Racing Against The Clock: 5 Ways To Make The Most Of The Little Time You Have

by Jessica Barraco

I am 27 and I live a double life in NYC.

I am not a secret agent by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes, I feel like one (without the lethal weapons).

Having a passion separate from your daily nine-to-five is not an easy feat to juggle. Any artist or athlete can attest to feeling pulled in two different directions at all times. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Some liken the comparison of a passion to having a baby; you prep and juggle things for months -- or years, in the case of myself.

This coming August is my theoretical baby's due date. My book, "The Butterfly Groove," will be published and out in the world. It has taken four years. Four years ago, I wrote a book about my mother, who passed away when I was 12 years old.

Her life, before having my sister and me, always fascinated me, and after watching her suffer for so long, I wanted to see what she lived for when she was healthy, instead of struggling on a daily basis just to live. I had already given up one major thing in my life; I refused to allow the grief to steal my ambition to write, too.

But, like almost everyone out there, I have a day job. It's a job I really love, too! I am a marketing director at a content marketing agency that is booming with business.

If there were 40 hours in the day, maybe the juggling would be easier. But, since there aren’t, I have a few tips that might help all you wannabe secret agents out there:

1. Get A Planner

Have both a physical version and one for your digital device. The physical act of crossing things off of a list and meeting deadlines is more mentally powerful than one might think.

My Choice: Sugar Paper for Target 2015 calendars

I like something pretty to look at when I write stressful notes, plans and to-dos. If I must be stressed, by God, let the stressor be pink.

2. Get Plenty Of Exercise

My favorite "Legally Blonde" quote is true: “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” It’s true! Go do yoga, cardio or walk home from your day job instead of commuting by car or train.

My Choice: Soul Cycle and Gentle Yoga (studio of your choice)

Spinning is less stressful on my body than running, but still gives me plenty of opportunities to gather my endorphins for the day. Also, the music and energy high just makes me happy.

An important part of exercising that people often forget is stretching, which is focused on highly during a gentle yoga class. It’s key because it allows your muscles to breathe, which can be a form of meditation.

So, if you aren’t the type to take a meditation class, definitely take the time to do yoga and stretch out. I tend to work out in the morning and on weekends, due to my work schedule.

3. Sleep

Don’t compromise your sleep schedule. It’s the time when your body restores itself for the next day, and due to recent scientific studies, sleeping while you’re somewhat cold has anti-aging benefits.

I know so many people who stay up all night to get things done and then rise early. Try to leave work when you’re done with your work. Common sense, right? This gives you the opportunity to switch gears and focus on your product, passion or project.

My Choice: my BED -- it’s a TempurPedic

4. Be Grateful

Be happy you have something extra than everybody else you know. Even if you only surround yourself with creative people, I guarantee you, no one will do exactly what you’re trying to do. Therefore, you are still unique.

Do something that welcomes gratitude in your life -- a massage, more yoga, a blowout, your favorite movie, the beach, mountains, journal or old photos can all do the job.

My Choices: yoga class, reminiscing over old photos and writing in my diary

5. Just Breathe

There's no real how-to explanation here. Just inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s the best way to cleanse yourself of any negative emotion. Just be careful not to breathe the negative energy AT someone else. It’s not cool. Keep your bad energy to yourself.

My Choice: laying down, putting one hand over my heart and one on my low tummy (two very important Chakras), and breathing with my eyes closed for a few breaths

The reality is, just getting through your day can be an accomplishment. Much less, getting home and completing a whole other course of action. I like to think that once your project is complete, you will feel so accomplished and rewarded, and it will all be because you can cope because you are strong.

Not everybody can do this, but you can choose to do it.