The world around us is constantly full of distractions. You have social media alerts, news updates, text messages, Facebook Messanger, Instagram messages, and maybe even Snaps. Information overload and people wanting your attention from every direction. Then add on your responsibilities at work, at home, managing a household, kids, and budgeting money. Whew! It’s a lot.
Now, you want to live a healthy lifestyle, perhaps you have a specific health goal you wish to achieve and within the world of Nutrition that is forever changing it is easy to get distracted or lead off course by something you saw or read which leaves you confused about what the best way to achieve your health goals are? Most often we get overwhelmed, distracted, and then discouraged and we give up.
Fortunately, there are simple time management techniques that can help you get to where you want to be. The most productive people practice a few key time management strategies every day that helps them stay focused and connected to their goals. Lucky for us these tactics are easy to replicate with a little practice that will keep you on top of your health game!
1. Defining Your Purpose:
Before you can dive into the tangible action steps, the “WHAT’ you are going to do to get there, you need to first connect to the “WHY”. I have worked with hundreds of women who show me their clearly laid out plan, they can list over a dozen programs they have signed up for, and they reluctantly tell me the total amount of money they have spent on gym memberships, diets, coaches, supplements, etc and still have not managed to reach their health goals leaving them to feel defeated and like a failure. They knew the end goal, they made their lists and checked the boxes but something was missing?
“I want to lose 20 lbs” is a common goal I hear. But that’s the What not the WHY. When I work with clients to dig deeper I want them to talk about the feelings behind the goal. What drives you? What do you hope to feel when you accomplish this goal? The first step in effective time management is connecting deeply to why this goal is important to you. The clearer you are about what it is you want to achieve the easier it will be to ignore the distractions that don’t contribute to the accomplishment of your goals. “I want to unconditionally love myself”, “I want to have the energy at the end of my day to play with my kids”, “I want to feel confident in my own skin”.
These are examples of the WHY behind the goal. To implement this time management technique start by sitting down and giving a bit of deep thought about what drives you. What is the root desire of this goal? Why does it matter to you? Once you answer those questions, we can begin to break the resulting goal into smaller tasks. This is your roadmap to success and your first step in effective time management.
2. Create an Accomplish List
Notice I did not say “To-Do List”? When asked to write a To-Do List, most of us can write 1-3 pages of items at any given time we need to get accomplished for work, for our kids, with our finances, and in our house. And! it’s never-ending… as you check off 5 items suddenly 5 more arise. This is why most research shows that the majority of people don’t complete everything on their to-do list. Often we pick the things we want to do and then the items that are harder, we consider boring, or take time and real behavioral changes we don’t get to those or we roll them over from list to list.
An Accomplish List requires being more organized, figure out how you can make that happen. Don’t overload yourself with things that you know you can’t accomplish. When we have a sense of accomplishment it naturally makes us feel a lot more peaceful. This sense of peace creates a sense of feeling healthy and stress-free. The items on your accomplish list are DIRECTLY related to your health goal. Don’t have, “drink more water daily” then “do the laundry, pay bills, send that email” all on the same list! The Accomplish list is goal orientated and directly connected to your why and not lumped in with the never-ending to-do list in our life. Use a special notebook or journal that is dedicated to your health goal or create an Accomplish List in a separate folder in the notes app on your phone.
3. Break it down into Small SMART Goals
So you are connected to your goal and the Why it’s important to you. You have created an “Accomplish List” as it relates to achieving the things that are important to you. Now its time to break that list down into smaller SMART Goals so that we prioritize them, break them down into small baby steps that are easier to achieve to keep motivated, and set timeframes in which we will achieve them.
To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time-bound (time-based, time-limited/time-sensitive).
So for example, if your goal was to lose 20lbs, and an item on your accomplish list was to reduce your pop intake. You would break that one item into SMART goals. Week One in your daytimer you will only have 1 pop a day, in week 2 you will have one pop every second day, in week 3 you will have pop 2 times a week, and in week 4 of the month you will consume one pop a week. Very specific, easy to measure and track, relevant to your goal, and with timelines. An achievement goal might be “eating healthier”. You can apply the same strategy to this goal by week one add 1 cup of steamed veggies to your dinner plate, week 2 add in 1/2 cup of greens to your morning smoothie, week 3 have a leafy salad for lunch, week add in veggie sticks to a snack and viola! in one month you increased your vegetable intake to meet your daily requirements. Small specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals. Working through your Achievement list this way cuts out the distractions, makes it easy to stay motivated and on-track.
4. Be Kind to Yourself during Behavioral Change
In what now seems like another life, I used to work for the provincial government in human services and write and consult other organizations in the development of Behavioral Programs. In University, we were graded on writing programs that were intended to change what was considered “undesirable behaviors” into Functional life skills. Much of the philosophies surrounding behavioral programming have changed yet the understanding of brian mapping and how we learn and relearn new skills as adult learners remain true today.
When you set out health goals for yourself you are changing your mindset, changing old habits/ behaviors, and relearning new skills to help you achieve your goals. It is essential to be kind to yourself on your health journey. Change does not happen overnight! We need to practice small, tangible new skills every day before they become a new habit. Breaking down the bigger goal into smaller goals that can be achieved daily or weekly keeps us motivated and at the end more likely to stay true to the coarse.
If you “fall off” or make a mistake during this process towards achieving your health goals you must not throw your hands up and say “oh well I failed, there is no point in continuing”. Recognize that health is a journey, tuning into what your body needs take time, what works for you and what does not is apart of this process. Creating a “Cushion” within your week for reflection and to slow-down and tune in to acknowledge how you are feeling during the day/week can be an excellent time-management technique when you are looking at achieving a goal. When booking your day remember you are in charge of more than you think you are. Do not book yourself back-back in your day, this is a common mistake where we book our days so tightly that we often only allow for driving time or sleep! When organizing your day build in a 15-30 minute Cushion Window. This means that you have built-in a nugget of time to slow-down, check-in with where you are at with your goal that day, recognize what is going well and make adjustments where you need to that day to stay on track. It may sound like that is a lot but actually is a simple practice you begin today. Block in your “cushions” in your calendar.
5. Rome was not built in a day… it also was not built alone. Ask for HELP
“Help”, that dreaded word we often seem to struggle within our modern world. For some reason we feel if we can’t do it all and be everything in our work, to our kids, in our life that we are somehow “failing” which is far from true. Maybe this is the first time you are putting your health as a priority or maybe you are a health professional, either way, having the right tools that can help you is critical l to you achieving your goals and mastering time management with your health in mind.
I have worked with many nurses. I have also had many fellow nutrition professionals register for my programs. Both groups of health professionals have an abundance of health education and information but guess what? even they know the power of enrolling help when we need it. Utilizing the right resources is one of the best ways to manage your time around achieving your health goals.
Delegate tasks you don’t have time for. As an example I have used my kids to help with meal prep, even at 3 years old they can put grapes in snack baggies for the week, and as they grew other their meal prep tasks evolved. Delegate grocery shopping! Yup let go of control little guys for the bigger goal and use the ‘click and save’ programs at most grocery stores now. You can order your groceries from the computer and have them delivered or ready for you to pick-up. This can save you a ton of time.
Delegate the cooking schedule with your roommate or a partner. Apps! there are so many health apps that can keep you on track with your health goals from counting steps, to how many glasses of water you consume to counting nutrients. Book in a fitness class with a friend so you have help to stay accountable to go. Help can look a lot of different ways but can be an excellent way to support your time management as it relates to health.
I would love to learn what time management tools you use in your toolbox to support your health goals? Connect with me on Facebook or Instagram. I am also always sharing wellness tips, easy healthy recipes, and health info on the Rejoice social media channels to seamlessly fit healthy living into even the busiest of lifestyles. I look forward to connecting with you there!
In great health,