Making Free Time your Friend


Learning to become friends with the clock instead of enemies, constantly racing against time or running out of it!

Relaxation. Ever heard of it? Maybe it is just the area that I live in, but I don’t really know many people who truly relax on a regular basis. If you’re like me, staying busy and keeping structure in my day is the only way to ensure that I am effective. When I do have “free time”, I usually feel a sense of guilt or stress if I am not doing something; chipping away at my long-term to-do items that I could not possibly ever get done during a normal week. As a result, I do not rest and I certainly do not relax.

Busy is my jam. I love being busy; I get antsy when I am not busy. However, when I have a lot of unstructured free time, I find myself extremely inefficient and unproductive instead of the opposite. This is something that I have really been working on in the past few years and have found a few ways to make my “free time” productive AND relaxing. Yes, you can accomplish both.

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Productive Free Time
Free time. Do you have any? I found that I either had large chunks of free time (difficult for me to get motivated in these longer stretches) or little bursts of 20 minute pockets where I felt nothing could be accomplished. However, when I took a step back and started evaluating my schedule more closely, I realized how much time I was wasting per day just being unproductive or worrying about my mound of responsibilities.

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I broke up my responsibilities into weekly and long-term. The weekly tasks such as work for my business, cleaning the house, getting to the gym, staying in touch with friends etc…was best accomplished by setting small goals. If I knew that I had a 20 minute window, I would identify what I could reasonably accomplish in those 20 minutes. While, I might not be able to clean my house from top to bottom in 20 minutes, I could fold a load of laundry and straighten up the living room.

Working in smaller chunks of time and accomplishing things bit by bit is not only more effective but it also increases motivation. When you are just flailing around doing a hundred things at once, starting many tasks but never completing one, it is hard to feel very accomplished or successful. The negative feelings feed the cycle of being unmotivated and unproductive. Instead, completing small tasks bit by bit, accomplishing goals and checking things off your list, is a wonderful way to keep on top of the many things piling up on your plate (short and long-term). **writing notes to friends; sample calendar***

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Relaxing Free Time
Now, this is a concept. One thing that I have found is that the more I accomplish during my productive free time, the more realistic it is for me to have relaxing free time. It is also important to note that if you are not building regular relaxation and self-care into your routine, then in the long run you will not be able to sustain the pace you are keeping and you will begin to start dropping balls here and there or eventually crash altogether. For some this might happen quickly, others will find that the stress takes a longer slower toll ultimately getting them to a place filled with low energy, health issues, and an inability to keep up.

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A Challenge for You:
I will share a full blog post in the coming months to talk in more detail about scheduling tools and tracking your time. At the end of the day, my belief is that everyone needs to find what works for them. When I am meeting with clients, I never try to push one type of organization or planning structure on them because ultimately it will not be successful if it doesn’t fit their individual needs. For me, I use Google Calendar (on my computer and on my iPhone) to track my appointments and I use an app called 30/30 to track and prioritize my daily to-do list. I also bring a physical planner with me that has printouts of my weekly schedule and allows me to take notes on the go. For some, this set-up would be too much or more than is needed, others might find it very helpful like I do. Whatever place you’re in right now, whether you have a great system or no system at all, I challenge you to evaluate your current set-up and seeing where you might do better to track and manage your time.


In the same way that someone trying to stick to a healthy eating plan preps their meals and schedules gym time at the beginning of the week, a successful manager of their time plans ahead. Take some time at the beginning of the week to think through what you need to accomplish and what is on your calendar. The most of a game plan you are, ironically, the more spontaneous you can be. If you have a good handle on your responsibilities and how you are using your time, you will free up some space to be flexible when those inevitable curve balls (flat tire, distressed friend) come at you midweek. Also, you can have more freedom to go accept an unexpected invitation to do something fun (what a concept) during the week. Even with that game plan before the week, you might still have things added on your plate as the week goes on. To manage this, I recommend spending 15 minutes each morning to assess your day. This is one of my favorite parts of my day, I sit with my tea, relax, take a deep breath, and come up with my must-do list and things I would like to do. I determine what is realistic and prioritize how much time I might need for certain tasks. This simple, and short, activity will set you up for a much more efficient day of accomplishing the thing before you.

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My Starbucks-Free, Exercise- Filled Month

                                   Green Juice makes my heart, my skin, and my whole body very happy :) 

                                   Green Juice makes my heart, my skin, and my whole body very happy :) 

 

Well it took me a few weeks to get this blog written and posted, but for good reason! I have been on vacation and continuing to focus on my health and wellness before gearing up for a very busy fall filled with new clients and managing my business full-time.

The challenge! It was a success for me and many others. I was so excited to see how many people joined with me and all of the creative habits they chose to make and break.

Make a Habit: There were so many good habits being made by the 20+ people who joined me in this challenge. Some, like me, chose exercise and more consistent activity, others chose to add healthier foods into their diets. Other habits made were getting up earlier (not hitting the snooze button), spending quiet time in prayer each morning, having hot water with lemon each morning, and many others!

Break a Habit: Many habits were broken during this challenge. For me, it was my need to constantly have a Starbucks in my hand! Others gave up junk food, staying up too late, not sitting down to eat meals, and saying "yes" to every request made of them to name a few.

For me, this challenge was a great learning experience in many ways. My goal was not to just make a habit and break a habit for 28 days and then go back to normal. I wanted to create true change. Post challenge, I am continuing with my daily exercise (more on that below) and really trying to keep the Starbucks intake to a minimum. In fact, I am planning to cut it out again for a few weeks as I felt so good when I wasn't having my drink every day and I think I need to either cut it out completely or not at all (there is apparently no in between for me). I hope to get to a point one day where I can enjoy it  in moderation, but for now, I might need to completely avoid.

In order to find success in this challenge, I had to get creative. For the exercise, I found all sorts of new ways to get my body moving each day. I tried new classes, worked out with friends, and really pushed myself in a lot of ways. By the last week, I was doing way more than 45 minutes a day (some days even 2 hours because I was having so much fun!) This is something I know I will continue for a few reasons. First of all, I feel amazing! I have so much energy, I am excited to exercise and I have loved all of these new experiences. Second, I truly created a habit. My body expects some form of movement every day or else I really notice a different in my energy and overall feeling of my body. Finally, it's been VERY fun. 

I also got creative with my beverages. I missed my morning drink so I tried to mix it up with healthier (mostly) options. Green juice, smoothies, lemon water, all were in the mix (and at least on one occasion, a milkshake...)

Thanks for reading!

Lauren

I loved trying out the Barre Classes at my Gym

I loved trying out the Barre Classes at my Gym

This S'mores Milkshake was INSANE. Enjoyed it with my husband on our 4th Anniversary! 

This S'mores Milkshake was INSANE. Enjoyed it with my husband on our 4th Anniversary! 

Cycling is one of my new favorite classes at the gym! 

Cycling is one of my new favorite classes at the gym! 

Homemade Chai Tea Latte's eased the pain a bit. I only did this a few times but it was a much healthier, organic option. 

Homemade Chai Tea Latte's eased the pain a bit. I only did this a few times but it was a much healthier, organic option. 

Swimming at the beach pool was another favorite way to get those calories burned! 

Swimming at the beach pool was another favorite way to get those calories burned! 

Make a Habit, Break a Habit

28 Day Habit Challenge

They say it takes 21 days to create a habit. Well, I think an extra week to make sure it sticks is a good idea. So, 28 days it is!

July 5th through August 1st. 

Making a Habit. Adding something positive into your life. This could be related to health and fitness, your personal relationships, your faith, your need to relax and unwind, or anything else you feel might enhance your day to day experiences. For me...It is exercise. 

My New Habit: Exercising in some form, every day, for 28 days. I plan to do something active for 45 minutes every day for the next four weeks. While I do get in a good amount of exercise every week, I am often inconsistent. By creating more routine in my exercise habits, I hope for this to continue past these 28 days. I know that exercise makes me feel so much better in all aspects so I am certain that it will be an easy habit to maintain. As soon as I remember how good it feels to sweat it out, I am sure this will be a breeze. Another way I hope to push through these 28 days is to mix it up. Different exercises and classes, workout partners, and changes of scenery will be helpful so I do not get bored and fall off the wagon.

Breaking a Habit. This is harder for me. It is not always easy to step back and evaluate choices we make. Why is it so hard to create good habits but the bad ones come naturally and are seemingly impossible to break? Well, I decided to focus on something that I really did not think I could do without for 28 days. I do not want to have anything in my life that I feel has that much control over me or that I can't say no to for just four weeks. Enter...Starbucks.

My Old Habit: Bye, Starbucks (for now!) Let's be clear, I am not banishing Starbucks from my life forever. It pains me to even type that. However, I want to break the habit of going their daily (sometimes twice daily...eek). It's expensive, it's not healthy, and I want to be able to enjoy it on occasion without needing it every day. I know I will struggle with this and I hope to find a healthier alternative to get my caffeine in the morning, but I am excited to challenge myself and do this! 

 

YOU: Are you up for the challenge? I would love for you to join me. Make a habit, break a habit, do both, whatever you choose, I would love to have you along for the ride. This is not about being strict and rigid, it is about making changes and continuing to grow as a person. If you are interested in joining, please e-mail (or comment below) what you are making, breaking and a picture  that represents this for you! leckert@laureneckert.com

 

Let's go!

xoxo, Lauren