We live in a world where multiple things are constantly demanded of us to make ends meet. Facing a barrage of tasks – ranging from menial to extensive projects – from day to day can be quite stressful. When stress piles on stress, it leaves little room for creativity, relaxation, and above all, leading a healthful and positive lifestyle. How can you lose weight when an overbearing workload pushes you toward comfort foods? How can you feel accomplished when there’s a never-ending list of to-dos? The key to this all is proper time management.
Short Term vs. Long Term
The most crucial aspect of good time management is having a plain and user-friendly “Short Term vs. Long Term” organizational system. This way, you can keep track of your daily accomplishments while staying on-task for projects looming in the horizon.
First of all, find a way to have a “Monthly” and “Weekly” calendar. A lot of smart phones, computers, and even Google calendar have these useful and compact calendars that allow you to change to-and-fro short term (weekly) and long term (monthly). For the non-tech-savvy, a neat way to have this is to purchase a wall calendar to take care of your monthly planning and a notebook planner for weekly assignments. Of course, you don’t have to invest in those expensively, heavily decorated planners sold in most stores. A regular blank or inexpensive composition notebook can do the trick for weekly planning.
Having such an organizational system is a way for your mind to air out and de-clutter. When you force yourself to memorize everything, it can become mentally cumbersome. Imagine placing everything you own in a house into one room. First of all, it’ll get difficult retrieving and storing items. Then imagine when such a room stays cramped and crowded for a long period of time. It begins to get stuffy and musty to the point that it gets harder to breathe staying in the room.
So, it’s important to lay things out and have a look at both your long-term and short-term goals to: a.) Minimize stress, b.) Keep things neat, and c.) Give yourself room to breathe.
On top of the aforementioned calendars, you should also have a systematic “to-do” list for the day. Doing this is more important for the rewards and benefits of seeing what you accomplished than for its function.
A cute and easy DIY idea for your daily organization is to have a “Things I’ve Done!” jar. The concept is simple: write down what you have to do when, where, and why on a post-it note. When you’ve accomplished this goal, fold it up and put it in your jar. Of course, post-it notes aren’t necessary. You can use any kind of paper. I prefer post-it notes because I don’t always bring my jar around (those aren’t exactly portable). At least with post-it notes, I can stick them on my planner or in my work folder until I can get home. You're also free to decorate the jar according to your style, tastes, or preferences. (For mine, I took leftover birthday wrapping tissue paper and stuffed it in a jar. Then I tied a pink grosgrain ribbon around the rim to secure the wrapping paper).
If you’re dieting, writing down when you should have a big or small meal for the day is important. Put it on a post-it note and if you succeed in maintaining a balanced and well-timed 5-meal day, put it in the jar! The same goes for exercising. If you managed to increase your capacity – going from 2-mile jogs to 5-mile jogs, being able to do 10 more sit-ups than last week, etc. – write it down and put it in the jar. It’s a great way to remind yourself of the long-term success of your diet in case you begin to hit a plateau down the road.
Other things can go into this jar as well! If you managed to land a date with someone you’ve been interested in, it’s great to remember that. The jar is basically your time capsule for all things good in your life.
The best part about this task jar is that throughout the week, month, or even year (if you use a big enough jar) you can open it up, pick out any post-it note and read about your past accomplishments. Life is never perfect, and you’ll inevitably run into obstacles and failures. During those bad times, it’s easy to forget the simple joys you accumulated. The more you remind yourself of how successful you are, the more you’ll reinforce a positive self-image and overcome your trials.