What I Learned From Logging My Time For A Week

I’ve talked about Laura Vanderkam many times on the blog - she is a time management author, who interviews and gathers time log data from a variety of people.

Her message is to essentially prove to us that we have more time than we think.

I agree with her concept, but when my brain starts to feel overwhelmed, I’m always pretty adamant I’m too tight on time and can spin out over that.

After recently reading her book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, I decided to follow her suggestion and keep a time log for a week. You can download her time log spreadsheet through her subscription form here.

I actually tracked my time almost 4 years ago to the day (you can time travel back and read that post here if you like).

And … yeah, I was worried about spending 2 ½ hours a day on the internet back in 2014 … let’s just say we’re closer to 5 hours now.

I’m going to blame maternity leave and will be working to reduce that for sure. Especially now the new iOS tells you how many times a day you pick up your phone (go and look in your settings - I was shocked!)

So, I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a week (she also offers a 15 minute increment option but that was a little too intense for me), and here’s what I learned:

Tasks don’t take as long as I think they do

I noticed how little time things take in a number of ares of my life.

I am kinda hamstrung by baby nap times at the moment so once she goes to sleep, I’ll relax for ten minutes or so, then shower, put laundry on, etc.

What I noticed when I was logging my 30 minutes was… I was doing a lot in that 30 minutes.

Like all of those things! I thought I needed loads of time to get them done but in fact, I could relax, shower and put the laundry on and be back to a cup of coffee within half an hour.

Something I lament over is how long it takes to cook dinner - again, not that long… usually less than half an hour for most of my recipes.

And one more hilarious observation for the road…

I kind of loathe straightening my hair. Well guess what? It takes me 6 minutes to straighten my hair. I probably whinge in my mind for longer than 6 minutes about doing it! No longer…

I get enough sleep

Sadly I don’t get the 10+ hours I probably used to get on weekends pre-baby, but after filling up all those 30 minute cells with sleep overnight and into the morning, I am actually getting enough sleep. I get at least 6 hours and mostly 7.5 hours. So although

I feel within my rights to feel a bit tired day to day, it’s nothing to stress over.

I read a lot

I love having the Kindle app on my iPad (go and download some free Amazon sample chapters now!) but I never felt like I was reading enough.

Not only did I realise I read quite a lot (...like sometimes up to 2 hours a day) but tracking my time encouraged me to read more.

Writing ‘reading my phone’ in the 30 minute block wasn’t quite as inspiring as actually reading a book and logging that.

I exercise more than I think I do

I haven’t tracked my exercise in a long time so usually just decide day to day what I feel like doing.

Once I tracked my week as part of the challenge, I realised I was working out more than I thought and the variety was broader than I expected.

Baby and I go walking a lot but I also do a mix of weights, pilates, yoga and barre at home.

And again, my brain often spins out about exercise - telling me I don’t have the time. But once I realise it only takes one 30 minute slot in the spreadsheet (or maximum two) in the scheme of my day I can usually fit it in.

I unwind with TV and movies (when I say I don’t)

In this era of binge watching shows on Netflix/whatever streaming service you’re into, I am often left quiet in conversations as friends and coworkers discuss the latest trending series and how many episodes they powered through on the weekend.

I have a bit of a complex about spending too many hours watching TV so often don’t watch many shows.

When I tracked my time, I found I was watching something each day, usually in the evening, but again kinda decided on the spot.

I started a new series (Younger - 6 years late to the party), am still working through the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale and watched an Amy Winehouse documentary.

So the story I was telling myself wasn’t so accurate - I am watching things that interest me each week.

Conclusion: (as Laura predicted) I have more time than I think!

Have you ever tracked your time? Is it something you would try?

How I Finally Got Control Of My Inbox

If you readers are anything like me, you love to follow bloggers, vloggers, authors, all sorts of content creators and let’s not forget your favourite clothing and homewares stores.

With that following comes email subscriptions in the form of daily posts, weekly newsletters, sales emails, ecourses, free downloads and, subsequently, an overflowing inbox.

At the end of 2016, I was getting all sorts of ‘goal-setting for the new year’ emails, as well as reminders for all the online holiday sales and, with a busy work life and planning for my own holiday season, I was feeling quite ill every time I opened my inbox.

I had heard about unroll.me a few times but after chatting about it with Paige at Healthy Hits the Spot (who also uses it) she tipped me over the edge… and I haven’t looked back.

Step 1. Let them count how many subscriptions you have…

You sign up to the unroll.me service and they count how many subscriptions you have sent to your email address. I came in at a whopping 70 subscriptions. No wonder I was feeling ill.

Step 2. Unsubscribe

I then went through and ditched all the ones I either never read or never even knew I was subscribed to. Bye bye 32 subscriptions - and the sick feeling was starting to fade.

Step 3. Roll up!

This is the best part. You can roll your email subscriptions into a daily digest (or ‘rollup’) that you receive at a specific time of day (I get mine around 7am each morning).

You can then read all your emails in the same place at the same time. And more importantly you don’t have to open and read the ones you don’t have interest in that particularly day.

Step 4. Keep your favourites in your inbox

I do have some subscriptions I like to still receive as regular emails, either so I never miss them or because I like the format they come in, so you can opt to do that too.

Step 5. And breathe...

Let me know if you’ve found a way to manage your email subscriptions or if you try unroll.me, let me know what you think!

 

Breaking The Procrastination Cycle

Oh the irony - I was procrastinating on writing a blog post this week and then decided to write about procrastination!

This morning I sat down to my computer to write and found myself scrolling through Instagram, reading other blogs, looking at holiday photos of people I’ve never met on Facebook... you know the drill.

I always feel brilliant after I write to you readers, so what was holding me back?

The task seemed too big

Even though I write here every week, today the idea of it just seemed insurmountable.

Writing and editing the post, finding photos to go with it, sending it to my subscribers (BTW - have you signed up above to receive my blog posts and my 5 best tools for everyday ease yet?) - it all seemed like too much ahead of me today.

However, I mentally broke it down into smaller tasks - I would just try and write the post, then see what happens. Of course momentum took over and once one task was done, the next seemed possible - and so on from there.

I couldn’t visualise the benefits

‘No one’s going to mind if I don’t post this week’, I thought.

But then I remembered I promised myself back in October that I would post every week and that I would be bringing value to my readers if I did so.

I’ve made a commitment to write here on the blog and I know mentally that if I don’t achieve that it would eventually make me feel negatively towards myself.

I hadn’t told others

The accountability of someone else should definitely not be underestimated.

I spoke to my friend Abby and told her I was struggling to get a post out this week. She talked through the perils of procrastination with me, we had a laugh about our similar mindsets and I knew now that she’d be expecting me to get the post done.

If you’re feeling in a slump and not motivated to get something done, talking through it with someone really does work wonders for propelling you forward.

There was no reward in sight

Celebrating and rewarding yourself are not negative things.

My reward wasn’t even that big - I told myself if I wrote this blog post I could make myself a latte and sit on the couch catching up on Snapchat.

Yup, that sounded pretty amazing to me so I pushed through and knew the reward was coming.

I could have easily procrastinated with that activity first, but it felt so much better to sit down with an accomplishment already under my belt.

--

Whatever you’re procrastinating on, try these tips to propel you forward.

I’m happy to be your accountability partner if you let me know what your task is in the comments below!

June Recap and July Intentions

Well June has come and gone and it felt like a swift one! We had a long weekend here in Australia which involved an annual winery jaunt, but after that I decided to hit the health and fitness trail, only to be struck down by a stomach bug in the last week of the month.

So a tumultuous month, that’s for sure! But how did I go with last month’s intentions?

June Recap

Keep the juggle calm

A stomach bug will keep you very calm. I’m not the greatest patient so relinquishing control and spending a few days in bed was tough but needed.

It’s good to remind ourselves that it’s ok to lose momentum and ditch routine, and you will often feel more grateful for your day-to-day when you return.

I have a lot of catch ups planned in the next month so although I’m trying to space them out to avoid any franticness, I’m also grateful I have lots of people to spend time with.

Do a financial review

Ok, so there was one Asos haul…Although I enjoyed my life changing magic of tidying up clean out, it has left me with only a couple of winter jacket options so I needed to top up a little. Needed being the operative word!

Other than that, I’m staying calm around money, paying down debt at a steady rate, and trying not to splurge on weekends. It’s working so far!

July intentions

Seek out winter warmers

The number of winters we get to experience won’t be endless so July will be about embracing the chill and the activities that come with that.

With our Healesville weekend coming up, there will be roast dinners, red wine and fireplaces in my future.

I’m also spending my weekday mornings enjoying coffee while looking over grey skies, and that’s helping ground me in winter too.

Put first things first

If you’ve read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you’ll be familiar with this principle. Prioritising important things to me like study and blogging will be a focus in July.

If I don’t break things down into smaller to-do lists I can feel overwhelmed and end up doing absolutely nothing towards my goals, so I’m going back to basics and will plan out what I want to do each week in July.

How’s your June been? Any fun plans coming up for July? Let me know below!

 

The Happiness of Doing Less

In discussions of late with girlfriends, the idea of doing less has been coming up more and more.

We used to pride ourselves on hitting the 6am spin class, grabbing dinner and wine after work and stuffing our weekends full of catch ups with every ex-coworker and high school friend we could find.

It may be (read: probably is) age but this routine doesn't seem to have the same appeal as it used to. Slowing down, breathing and being more discerning about what we say 'yes' to is now at the forefront of our minds.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by commitment and don't know how to slow down, try some of these tips:

Form routines

A morning and evening routine crafted just for you will really frame your days and encourage self-care and pleasure.

Write out the activities you want to help wake you up in the morning and those that will end your evening on a relaxing note (a long walk? cooking a delicious breakfast? yoga before bed?) and start to implement them week by week.

Pick your appointments

Finding time to catch up with those important to us seems to be getting more and more challenging.

Diarise monthly or bi-monthly catch ups with friends, make sure the appointments are scheduled at relaxed times that suit both of you and feel free to say no to those relationships that you don't value as highly as others. Yes, really.

Avoid the highlight reels

Gazing on social media with a severe sense of FOMO can undo all the joy of doing less.

But remember - social media is everyone's highlight reel - we usually don't see them trimming their toenails, running late for appointments or dreading the next appointment they have to go to.

So if it makes you feel worse, stay off social media or remove those that bring any feelings of anxiety.

How can you do less in the next week? What can you say no to? 

May Recap and June Intentions

Ah, perspective. I went back and re-read a few of my recaps and intention setting posts and had to scoff at myself for this one. Cold and short days in February? I don’t think so Georgie.

Here we are in winter in Australia - chilly mornings, followed by crisp sunny days (on my ideal days anyway, rain and cloud otherwise). I’ve moved out of holiday mode and am back into the swing of everyday life. Here’s a look back at May and a view as to what’s up next for me.

Morning yoga views in Thailand

Morning yoga views in Thailand

May Recap

I didn’t set any specific intentions here on the blog for May but considering the first week of the month was spent in Krabi, Thailand, I kicked it off nicely.

It was a great chance to unwind and relax, but it also made me realise I really missed our home in Melbourne and of course, Pickles, cat extraordinaire.

It’s a good feeling to come back home and see everything with fresh, appreciative eyes.

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Upon returning to Melbourne, I’ve spent some amazing time with close friends.

My friendship group is all busy with our own careers, relationships and families, but when we come together for quality time, nothing really beats it.

I 100% remember why we’ve been friends so long, why we still push to stay in touch and how important friends are to lean on.

June Intentions

Keep the juggle calm

I am juggling quite a few things at the moment - work, study, social occasions, regular life admin. But post-holiday, I’ve found myself doing it in a calmer way than usual.

I’m not cramming my days full of appointments and I’m also not rushing from one task to the next - instead I’m trying to be present and give full attention to what I’m doing, whether it be laundry or coffee with a friend.

I’m hoping to keep this slower pace through June.

Do a financial review

After a few big purchases and a great holiday (worth every $), I’m ready to settle back into a more measured budget and get the savings up again. In particular I’m focusing on getting the rush from the ‘new purchase’ (aka online shopping) in other ways, namely free ways.

I will also keep in mind the future goal of savings and how good that will feel long term compared to the short term happiness of a new winter coat or a new mascara.

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What are your plans for June? Any intentions you’re planning on working on?

 

How I Manage My Email Inbox

I’ve had lots of requests to write time management posts here on the blog, and one of the biggest ways I manage my time is by managing my email.

I’m not perfect.

I’ve suffered that sinking feeling when you leave a meeting, only to see you have 32 new emails that weren’t there an hour ago.

I’ve woken at 5am and thought ‘I’ll just take a quick peek at what happened overnight’ then lay awake anxious about the day ahead.

But it’s all a mind game. You are in control of your reaction to email and you are in control of how you manage it.

These tips may not be ground-breaking but they’ve served me well as I’ve navigated through what we all have to navigate - a busy work and personal life.

Compartmentalise your day

The quickest way for me to leave work without having achieved anything is to sit on my email all day. As soon as I reply to one, the next comes in and I’m jumping all over the place, all day long.

I don’t have strict rules as to when I check email but I do make sure once I’m working on a task that I don’t flick back to my email client out of habit and lose focus.

Lately I’ve been trying to work on projects in time blocks or Pomodoros (a la the Productivity Planner). I work on the tasks, but I may also review and reply to emails related to that project specifically. This saves me feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails awaiting my response.

Acknowledge receipt

I work mostly with clients but I think this tip applies to coworkers and family and friends too.

A quick email to say you’ve received their note and will get back to them soon / tomorrow / next week will:

  1. Make them feel heard and let them know you’re onto it.
  2. Make you feel better as you’re not staring at a stack of unanswered emails feeling guilty.

File file file

Get emails out of your inbox. It’s so satisfying to file emails as they are dealt with and to watch that inbox number shrink.

I used to try and keep my email inbox to around 20 emails but unfortunately these days it’s more like 50.

Either way, pick a number to work towards to avoid your inbox spiraling out of your control.

Unsubscribe

Ah, the sweet pleasure of unsubscribe.

As we all go down the rabbit hole of news sites, blogs, digital product offerings and so on, it’s easy to hand over your email address in order to receive a freebie, a newsletter or regular updates from a site.

But sure enough within a month you’re deleting those emails without reading them or wondering how the hell you’re receiving them in the first place.

I have a few that I love to receive (I'm looking at you Jess Lively, Laura Vanderkam and Paige Schmidt) but most of the others just end up annoying me or adding to the feeling of overwhelm.

For me, every time I take a holiday I go through my emails and unsubscribe from all the stuff I’m not reading. Try it now!

How do you manage email? What’s your favourite tip I’ve given?

 

The Importance of Single Tasking

Do you ever feel paralysed by the list of errands awaiting you every Saturday morning?

Do you ever look up from your computer at lunchtime and realise, not only have you got nothing done, but you’ve added ten more items to your list?

One technique I’ve become pretty disciplined about over the past year is single tasking.

Fun fact: the word 'priority' is derived from French and Latin terms and the term was ALWAYS used as and intended to be singular.
As in, the plural ‘priorities’ doesn’t actually exist. We’ve just adopted it because apparently you can have more than one 'number-one important must-do thing to do' at once.
Crazy right?

We’ve certainly glorified the idea of multi tasking over past decades and then wonder why we feel frazzled and overwhelmed. We think we’ll get more done by doing three things at a time, but we are mistaken.

So what do can you do?

Pick ONE priority.

It’s singular remember? Pick one task or errand to focus on until it's done.

Leave buffer.

As you’re planning your day and which priority to work on next, try and leave buffer in your schedule.

If you finish early and can have a break, even better.

Hands off technology.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Trying to regain concentration after reading a SMS or checking Facebook is a challenge you don’t need.

Don’t believe me? Read this to understand your brain on technology and also try playing the game to see how multi tasking is hurting you... 

Reminding yourself throughout the day that priority is a singular term can help keep you grounded. And I’m sure your productivity will increase because of it.

Does single tasking scare you? What’s your number one priority today?

Have We Stopped Having Fun?

Do either of these weekdays sound familiar?

Work all day, gym, get home, do chores, cook dinner, prep for the next day, check work email, sleep.

OR

Wake up to screaming children, get them breakfast, get them ready, drive them places, return home, clean, slurp from a cold cup of tea, prep dinner, pick children up, give children dinner, get them to bed, check social media, sleep.

Do either of these weekends sound familiar?

Wake up, exercise, groceries, lunch, cleaning, gardening, catching up with family, sleep.

OR

Wake up from large night on the tiles, lament the world, regret behaviour from the night before, mope around all day, eat fried food, sleep.

If any of these routines sound like your life - firstly, you’re not alone. Our to do lists are a part of our reality.

We’ve made career, family and lifestyle decisions that have led us to these day to day movements. But a couple of elements shine through with these routines:

  1. We are determined to keep control of our lives.
  2. We neglect to include any fun in our days (or we save it all up for Friday night when we can finally relinquish the tight grip we’ve held on our lives all week).

Back in this post, I mentioned that over the last year fun has become a huge priority for me.

I was finding myself caught up in the minutiae of keeping every aspect of work, home and health together and never really taking time to enjoy my day (other than when it resulted in an enormous hangover).

So what can we do to bring fun and joy back into our lives?

Create a fun list

Start a running list of everything that you enjoy doing. From taking a bath to visiting a museum to going for a walk while listening to a podcast, this list is going to serve as your idea catalogue.

Some category ideas to help you get started could include - friendship, romance, adventure and relaxation - and let me know if you’d like a peek at my list.

Schedule something that brings you joy EVERY SINGLE DAY

Yes, every day!

Why do we hate Mondays? Why is Wednesday called hump day? Why do we have Sunday night blues?

It’s because we have nothing to look forward to on those days.

The night before each day (while you’re doing some of that humdrum prep we already talked about) look ahead to your calendar and see if there’s anything you are looking forward to the following day.

If the answer is no, go to your list and choose something you’d like to do, no matter what time of day you can fit it in.

Focus on your most dreaded or boring days

As I experimented with this idea, I noticed that Mondays and Tuesdays were the days where I was lacking the most fun.

I’d had my fun and prepped for the week on Sunday but Mondays and Tuesdays were about getting serious and churning through work and a couple of gym sessions.

Now I have regular fun booked on these days.

On Mondays I always take myself out for lunch (with or without friends) to a new cafe in my work area. Previously I would have brought whatever food I’d prepped on Sunday and raced back to my desk to keep working. Now Mondays feel special because of having this scheduled in the middle of the day.

And now every Tuesday night my husband and I go out for dinner to try a new restaurant near home. We share the responsibility of choosing a place and always have a great time - chatting about our week and mixing up a somewhat boring weeknight. It doesn’t have to be expensive ($10 pho and ramen anyone?) and I highly recommend it.

If you’re already having a blast every day then more power to you, but if you’re feeling like something is missing in your daily routine, adding fun could turn things around.

And I’m more than certain our best memories are not created while cleaning or working late at night - they’re created in moments of joy and happiness.

How do you include fun in your day to day life? Let me know in the comments below.

The Housework Struggle Is Real

I have a lovely visitor coming to stay with me this coming weekend and was thinking about when to tidy the house. I looked around and saw at least a dozen things that needed doing and I started to fill with dread.

Would I do it the night before she arrived so everything was fresh? Should I do it now so I don’t have to look at it all week and feel stressed? But if I do it now, will it need cleaning again by Friday night? Fun thoughts, right?

Luckily over the years I’ve learned how to quash these destructive musings and I wanted to share my strategies with you.

The pursuit of perfection

Many of us are Inadvertently aiming for ultimate control and perfection in our lives. Before we had magazines and TV to live up to, now it’s every social media channel and lifestyle blog we follow. Sparse white tabletops with fresh flowers fill our feeds, while we wonder where to store empty boxes and stacks of random papers we know we have to keep somewhere, for someday.

Are we too focused on keeping everything in order? Is life meant to be messy? Are we cleaning up to avoid spending time on more important hobbies that we might be afraid to pursue? Ask yourself these questions as you step slowly away from the vacuum cleaner.

Maternal gatekeeping

This is a concept I’m fascinated with. Maternal gatekeeping, as the name suggests, usually relates to parenting but it also includes the concept that women will limit their partner’s involvement in housework. Why you ask? Because our partners can’t do it as perfectly as us. And when they do the housework, we often criticise and question how they’ve done it. Sound familiar?

Recognising this has been a huge shift in my relationship. A while back I gave up ‘being in charge’ of the house and directly asked for help. After some negotiation we now share the housework 50/50. We are in charge of our own jobs and we rarely let each other down in this department.

Does handing over control like this make you nervous? If so, another tip is to let go of the jobs that you don’t really care that much about. For example, I like washing and hanging the laundry, but I couldn’t care less how the dishwasher is stacked as long as it gets done. Ask yourself - do you want it to be done perfectly or do you just want it to be done?

Write down all the jobs that need completing around the house (yes, all of them) and how long they each take. Then divide them up fairly. And if you don’t have a partner…

Batch household tasks

Another major shift for me. Doing a little bit here and there only made me feel like I was constantly doing chores, and also consistently on the look out for the next chore that needed doing. Now I devote around an hour or two on a Saturday and then I’m done.

I usually plug in some music or a podcast and reward myself once the time is over with a hot coffee, a cooking show (my guilty pleasure) and a cuddle with the kitten.

Try doing all your housework at once and let me know if it makes a difference to the rest of your week.

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Will anyone really care?

Back to the catalyst for this post - keeping your house ‘perfect’: either to impress people, or because you care what others think of you. In all honesty when was the last time you walked into a good friend or family member’s house and really cared what state their home was in? When they apologise to you for having a messy house, did you ever even notice? Seeing them and enjoying great company and conversation, so outweighs the dust we all have hiding under our couches.

If you truly dig deep, could you be happy with a tidy house over a sparkling clean one? Can you shift your focus to the fulfilling time you’ll share when that person arrives at your house, over what they’ll think of your cleaning skills?

What’s your housework mentality? Will you be trying out any of these tips? Even if you’re too scared to tell me, I truly hope this helps you loosen the reins dear readers. And if you have a cleaner, even better!