I consider myself a wannabe planner. I love writing to-do lists, buying stationary, drawing up hundreds of post-it notes, planning and filling in my calendar….. but when it comes to the crunch, I struggle with the implementation part. Don’t get me wrong, I follow what I plan, just not to the letter….more like a zig-zag. However, I have come to appreciate the power of routine and habit and the impact a good plan can have on my business, my health and my success.
As a business owner, I struggle with finding time and energy to really focus on the ‘important’ stuff. We all have the same amount of hours and minutes in the day, but the true success lies in how we utilise them efficiently. Not only that, our energy is also limited meaning it’s important to generate enough consistent flow and also use it efficiently so that big tasks get priority. I have made so many mistakes with this and spent countless years wasting precious time and draining my battery on tiny tasks that had no effect on my bottom line.
There is absolutely a possibility that our environment can influence our success and progress which is why it’s so crucial to set it up to do just that. Just because the daily tasks are repetitive and don’t disappear, doesn’t mean you can’t control them to give more time/space for creativity, productivity and success.
The answer is simple and it starts with routine. When I make this routine becomes passive and turns into a habit, magic happens. And of course, it all starts with Sunday. I have come to really love Sundays and try to really focus on using this day for getting ahead of the week. Let me share some really simple steps which I take to try and systemize my medial tasks as best I can so that I have plenty of time to focus my energy on what’s important.
Ok so let’s dig in….
1. Pack Your Gym Bag
Let me pre-empt this by saying I love the gym, LIKE LOVE. But despite this, two other things are also true: 1) it takes an effort to get up and train first thing in the morning 2) it takes effort not to waste time in the gym.
So first thing is first, pack your gym bag. Monday is that magic day when you set yourself up for the week so skipping the gym equals you starting on a slight deficit. Even if you prioritise this, it’s only natural that things come up during the week and new appointments take over the calendar and so it is crucial to really emphasise training and getting to the gym on the first few days of the week.
Now, building on this point, you’ll first notice I mention going first thing in the morning. We could argue here over minor details but the truth is that successful people train in the morning. Yes, of course, it’s a broad statement but I see it all the time in the gym and I genuinely believe it. Exercise should be a priority not only for personal health & fitness but also for the serotonin hit, energy boost and mental clarity.
Finally, a point of making your training session matter. Going to the gym alone won’t get you results. It’s all about how effective (not long) you make the workout. If you don’t know what I mean right now, get a trainer. And if you have a programme or personal trainer or CrossFit membership, start doing it effectively. What I mean is actually using your body and muscles. What does getting on the treadmill for an hour do for you other than improving your fitness? During your strength piece, are you actually elevating your heart rate and using the muscle OR are you just moving the weight from A to B? Write out your plan for the week, keep the session to MAX 1 hour, incorporate HIIT/circuits and do the session. Your time in the gym is precious so don’t waste it on cardio machines/reading magazines/chatting. If you need an extra kick, join a class in the gym or join a small group coaching programme like Bootcamp or CrossFit where you are kept accountable.
2. Meal Prep for the Week (or at least Monday)
Exercise and diet go hand in hand when it comes to your health & wellness so setting these two up for the week is just huge not only for you BUT also for the success of your career. Why? Because we all have a set amount of energy in the day which we can only recharge through sleep. We use this precious energy daily in varying doses BUT we also abuse it with poor diet, stress and lack of movement. It’s your energy that drives your success so creating a foolproof plan to manage and leverage this factor is huge. HUGE.
In terms of diet, I cannot tell you how crucial this step has been in keeping you in check. Yes, it takes a few hours of effort but the reward is worth it especially if you have a family to consider. At the very least I want you to prep your meals for the day ahead so that you get Monday off to a great start. Just like point one, it’s only natural that our will power begins to dwindle and social situations arise as the week goes on so getting off to a good start and or being prepared is important.
Start by dedicating 2-4 hours on a Sunday and writing out a detailed food shopping list. Do your shopping and from there my top prep tips and tricks are the following:
- Nutribullet: You can use this for so many things including making smoothies, marinades, grinding spices, making nut butter, making nut milk, making dips…..
- Slow Cooker
- BPA free containers
Simple Prep Ideas:
– Boiling up a few eggs to have as a snack or breakfast on the go
– Chopping banana/berries and separating into zip bags for freezing
– Chopping up vegetables and storing large container in fridge
– Weighing out nuts into snack bags
– Batch cooking4-8 chicken breasts/turkey/salmon in the oven
– Slow cooker at the ready to either turn on first thing in the am for dinner OR to prep large cut of beef/chicken/pork/lamb to then cut up and ration
– Homemade bread (paleo/good whole grain) which I then slice and freeze to use as needed
– Beans – soak and prepare
– Rice – soak and prepare. Note, you CANT reheat rice so if you don’t like it cold just make as you go.
– Buy frozen: wild salmon, berries, vegetables.
3. Planning Ahead
Do you ever take time to first how last week went and then make new goals and plan your coming 7-day schedule?
If not, WHY??
A massive component of business success and personal development is constantly tracking and building on your progress. Therefore, be it fitness, health or business related, it’s important to take time on the weekend to review and process what you achieved so that you can aim higher and set relevant targets for next week.
One thing I learned recently is that to do lists don’t work. And I love making lists but it’s true! Simply writing out a big list of items is not enough. And successful people don’t do this either. Instead, they use their calendar and schedule their to-dos. So bearing that in mind, some ideas around the following:
– How do you feel last week went? Did you take on too much? Did you get everything done?
– Rate your stress levels for last week out of 10.
– What is your number 1 priority for next week
– Fill in your calendar with meetings you are aware of
– Jot down some items you want to get through and give them a date.
– Fill in your calendar with these to-dos
You spend all week training and working hard but on the weekend I love to play. As a human species, play is a massive element that helps us de-stress, socialise, enjoy ourselves and just get out more. Playtime is just a different way of engaging in our lives, of leverages our inherent desire for exploration, experimentation and general tinkering around our environment, all of which shapes our brain. Why should kids have all the fun!
So my ideas for play include:
– If you have children, spend time playing by their rules; build a fort, climb a tree, play frisbee, dress up, have a pillow fight.
– Go outside and explore off the beaten track
– Climb a tree
– Put on some loud music and just dance
– Practice your cartwheels & handstands in the garden
– Get outside. Throw a ball around with your friends.
5. Change your bedsheets
There is nothing like crisp, fresh sheets and given that we recharge our batteries through sleep, it’s important you make your Sunday bed as comfortable as possible so that you start Monday on a good note. Although the amount of sleep important (8 hours is your target), it’s the quality that matters most. And good quality sleep can be hard to find.
Top tips to wind down, get into the mood (the sleepy mood that is) :
– Take an Epsom salt bath
– Lower the lights, light some candles
– Stick a hot water bottle under the sheets to heat them up
– Grab a cup of camomile tea
– Read your favourite book for 30 mins.
– Buy a small notebook to keep at your bedside. Take five minutes to brain dump the following: three things you are glad you did today, three things to do tomorrow and something you are grateful for.
– Download the Sleep Pillow app and set the timer to run for 15 mins (up to 1 hour). Pick a sound and listen as you fall asleep.
– Make sure your room is dark. Black out blinds are a big plus.
– Remove technology. This means no phones. Your bedroom should be a sacred space.
– Buy an alarm clock with a natural light to help wake you up in the morning.
– Avoid sugar before bed
– Do add some good carbs to your dinner (not sugar but things like sweet potato/brown rice)
Lyda Borgsteijn 3rd Year Student