Managing the way you spend your time each day implies more than just making a list and following it. There are hundreds of little time management activities you must do and problems you must solve, so you don’t fall into procrastination, so you make the best use of your time and energy.
To make things simpler, let us go through each part of your day and the problems you may encounter.
Mornings are probably the most important periods of each day because they determine the flow your activities will follow during that day. If as soon as you wake up, you decide to go back to sleep, then it’s likely you won’t achieve much that day. This is because each thought and activity you engage in after you wake up will lead to other thoughts and activities (according to your habits).
If you do passive activities like sleeping, watching television, or porn right after you wake up, you’ll tend to keep being passive throughout the day. Each new passive action and thought stacks on top of the other, making it increasingly difficult to change the pattern.
Therefore, the key to a successful morning and/or day is starting it with a bunch of active thoughts and/or activities.
The Right Way to Start your Morning
You may wake up one day full of energy and ready to take on the world. But that’s not most mornings, is it? If you, like myself and a million others, feel sluggish or tired when removing your head from your pillow, there are a few things you can do to start your day right. Here are my time management activities for the morning:
- Stretch and be silly. As soon as you wake up, throw your hands up in the air like you know the rest. Stretch, act silly, make yourself laugh. Do it before getting out of bed, and as soon as you’re conscious
- Drink. Your body usually wakes up dehydrated, so drinking something as soon as you wake up is always a good idea. Keep a glass or a bottle of water near you when going to sleep. As soon as you wake up, drink some, as much as you can.
This will take care of your dehydration and give you the urge to use the bathroom. On your way there, you’ll wake up a bit more. Keep being goofy and incorporate some sit-ups or other forms of exercise if you can, so you’ll get some energy flowing through your body.
- Put on some killer music. After drinking water / while going to the bathroom, grab your phone and put on some killer workout music (to each his own taste). Prepare this in advance. It must be fast tempo and get you moving, the kind of music you can’t help reacting to. It will wake you up.
- Drink lemon juice, no sugar. At first, I wanted to suggest you prepare it before going to sleep, but I don’t do that, and I don’t think you should do it either. My reasons are simple: it’s annoying and the juice might spoil until morning.
Instead, drink water as soon as you wake up, then squeeze and drink one lemon after going to the bathroom. It’s an easy activity, so it shouldn’t be much trouble. Note: don’t think of your day or of anything else while you do these time management activities. Keep your mind blank, so you don’t overwhelm it.
- Light workout. Finally, as the final nail in laziness’ coffin, do some light workout. Run on the spot and do a couple pushups. Anything you can do in 10-15 minutes that makes you sweat a bit, but not tire yourself out, will work. Remember not to go overboard. If you work out too hard, instead of waking yourself up, you’ll get tired and feel like sleeping.
- Eat. After the workout, you’ll probably be hungry, so grab something healthy. Do not eat things with sugar, or oil in it. No fried eggs or anything fried for that matter. It’s hard to digest. Your body will send more blood to your belly to compensate, leaving less for your brain and making you sleepy. If you can, eat a salad and some meat or cheese. Your energy will increase tenfold.
- Plan. While eating, plan your day (if possible, out loud and with conviction). Briefly remember your goals and why you want them, then plan out your day in accordance with those goals. Make sure they are firmly placed in your head and you feel the urge to accomplish them. After your meal, get started on the first one. Your morning and the rest of the day should go much better.
The above list is best done in order, but the great part is you don’t have to do all of it to get results. It will be hard, almost impossible to implement a 7 step plan every morning if your willpower isn’t great. If you can’t do it, just pick one of the steps above and do it. Just one of them will help you.
Also, feel free to adjust these time management activities to your own personal circumstances. You may not have the time to implement every step, you may not like to eat in the morning, or you may have to go to work as soon as you wake up. Adjust as necessary.
Until evening, all you basically need to do is implement the plan you made in the morning. Here, your list plays a major role.
However, as the day stretches on and you accomplish task after task, sooner or later, you’ll feel like taking a break. You’ll feel like all this activity wasn’t such a great idea. If you go into a passive mode at this point, your day is dead. You might as well grab the remote and some fries.
So, how do you combat this? Here are some ideas:
- Diversify your tasks. That plan of yours, was it made of just 1 item? If you do one task for a long period of time, you’ll naturally grow bored and tired of it. You’ll want to switch, and if you don’t have an alternative, you’ll switch to a bed. To counteract this, plan opposite activities back to back. After working on a desk, do some exercise. After a workout, do something easy. Basically, follow mentally challenging tasks with physically challenging tasks and the other way around.
- How to Relax. When both your mind and body are tired, grab some food or chat with your spouse. You need to occasionally take a break, but how you take it will make the difference between success and the snooze button.
The key is not to fall back into passivity. You must take active breaks, like playing with your kids or chatting with friends or a loved one. Eating at the table while planning your next task is also good. Going for a walk is better. If you’re going to watch or read something, make sure it’s related to your work. Taking a nap or sitting on the bed is out of the question. You will never leave it until evening.
- Don’t get tricked by your brain. The more used you are to an activity, the longer you can do it for. If you’re used to wasting time and being passive, all of a sudden going into work mode will trigger your brain’s laziness response. You will feel like taking a break long before you actually need one.
Don’t be tricked by this. Stay strong. You don’t have to push through 10 hours of work with no break, but if you know you can go on for 30 minutes, don’t let laziness stop you at the 10-minute mark. You should know your own mind and body. If you don’t, experiment and learn fast!
- Use in-between time to pump yourself up. Use your commute and shower time productively by remembering your goals and why you want them. You can also use this time to listen to a good audiobook on a subject you’re trying to learn. Finally, you can use these periods to actively meditate. Clear your head of all thoughts and focus solely on the task at hand. It will make it easier to handle work later on, and you’ll relax as well.
So, you’ve gone through a whole day of work. Congratulations! If you’ve done it right, you’re probably feeling great about yourself. You feel accomplished, capable, and you feel like doing more despite having worked all day.
Here lies the problem: You need to sleep. Many people, after a hard day’s work, find it very difficult to fall asleep. The brain is still in work mode. It thinks you’ll keep going, so you must learn to wind it down.
For evening time management activities, give yourself at least a couple hours. Spend that time relaxing in a non-addictive way.
Addictive activities: television, most things on YouTube, movies, porn, music, novels, alcohol, and drugs (obviously), video games, mass media, and probably more.
I will cover why these activities are addictive in later articles of the Health blog, but for now, simply ask yourself: do I feel the urge to do this activity daily? Is it a bit more than a habit? Can I stop if I’d like to?
If you find yourself addicted to something that doesn’t serve your needs or you could do without, drop it immediately. There is nothing to gain from it and it’s draining your time. More so, when you get the urge to do it, all your plans, goals, and dreams go out the window. Time management is impossible while you’re still addicted.
Returning to our subject, if you engage in such an activity in the evening, next morning you will feel the urge to do it again. You may go to sleep too late. You may forget about your water and your lemon and take a never-ending, break.
You must find new ways to unwind yourself, healthy time management activities that are conducive to your goals. I’ve mentioned some of those in the “how to relax” section. Other great ways to relax in the evening are meditating, sex, ASMR videos (though some might find them addictive), and reading a book that teaches you something useful (self-improvement books, books about your field of work, books on politics, psychology, law, or medicine).
Books are better for the brain, so I recommend those. Articles like this one are also great since they are shorter and you cannot get absorbed in them for too long a period.
Review these time management activities before going to sleep. Plan out the next day and visualize each step. If you can see in your mind what you’re going to do and see it in a positive manner, your mind will take it as a command, and you’ll be much more likely to do it.