If you’re an overthinker, worrier, or perfectionist, you probably love the idea of relaxation but hate that it doesn’t come naturally to you. Maybe the hardest part about self-care isn’t letting your body relax, but rather figuring out how to quiet your mind.
Ever since I was young, I’ve sought out ways to keep myself entertained. My mom used to say I couldn’t sit still for five minutes because I had to be doing something. Even now when I’m watching Netflix or going for a walk, I find myself tempted to scroll through my phone to keep my mind occupied.
Most of us seek out constant stimulation because we don’t want to feel bored, but that only makes it harder for us to relax. The need for stimulation means that your brain doesn’t know how to shut off, so it wanders from one thing to the other on random tangents. Before you know it, you’re worrying about something that wasn’t even an issue five minutes ago. All of this leaves you feeling mentally burned out and exhausted.
So when your mind is busy, how do you make it shut up? I could tell you to take a bath or go for a walk, but we all know that won’t exactly stop your mind from chattering at you. Instead, here are ten things to try when you want to quiet your busy mind.
10 Ways to Quiet Your Mind1. Exercise
Obviously there are physical benefits to exercise, but it can also do wonders for your mind. Any intense exercise that challenges you to keep moving can be a great distraction from what’s going on in your head. Interval sprints or walks, weight-lifting, kickboxing, and dance all force you to focus in different ways. Though I love yoga and pilates, I do find the slower nature of them can cause me to start thinking about my to-do list again.
You knew this one was coming, right? Meditation is so important for anyone who lives in their own head because it encourages you to sit still without reacting to your thoughts. Though meditation is difficult in the moment, your head will feel calmer after you’ve done it.
Write down every little thing that’s floating through your head. The to-dos, worries, calls to make, emails to respond to – write it all down so you can see it in front of you. Then use the Ivy Lee method and write down your six most important tasks in order of importance and work on each one until they’re all complete.
4. Make or Create Something
I find that making or creating something is an amazing way to quiet your mind. Though I love eating more than cooking, following a new recipe and trying to successfully make it can distract my mind and give it a break. There are times when I don’t want to spend a ton of time making a meal, but there are other times when it can come in handy when you need to focus on something else.
5. Declutter Your Space
Our physical environment can have a huge impact on our mental state. While it doesn’t affect some people, I’m someone who feels more stressed out when the space around me is messy. If you feel the same way, get rid of things you don’t need, organize those piles, and clean the parts of your home that you haven’t touched in who knows how long.
Nothing good comes from dwelling on your thoughts and keeping them locked up in your head. If you have something on your mind that you want to stop rehashing, get it out. Write it down in a journal, talk about it on Instagram stories for anyone who will listen, or talk out loud to yourself (we all do it, don’t pretend like you don’t ).
7. Read Fiction
When I read non-fiction books, my mind tends to go into overdrive with any new concepts I’m learning. Thoughts like, “How can I put what I’m learning to use?” or “I’ve been doing this all wrong and I need to makeover my life ASAP” can cause me to want to act right away, even though I already have a crazy to-do list. Fiction (especially those cheesy romance novels) allows your mind to escape from the real world for a little while.
8. Make an Action Plan
If you’re worried about how you’re going to get everything done in the next few weeks, make yourself a plan. Identify what needs to get done, how long it will take, and when you’re going to do it. Then set a start and finish date. Having a plan gives your mind a break from thinking about how you’re going to fit it all into your schedule.
There’s something so immersive about being in a movie theater because you have to focus your attention on one thing for a few hours. Since it’s frowned upon to text during a movie (don’t be that person), the movie theater can encourage you to be present and not get distracted with whatever’s going on in your head.
10. Force Yourself to Focus
Sometimes you need to focus, but your mind just won’t let you. When that happens, you have to force yourself to get into the zone. Here are some things to do when you need to focus:
Use the Pomodoro technique to focus on the task at hand for 25 minutes and then take a break
Put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb mode
Snooze notifications or emails on your phone and computer
OneTab – this Chrome extension consolidates the millions of open tabs you have into one
There seems to be an obsession these days with the concept of a positive mindset. Everyone wants to be happy, and everyone wants to be positive. Positivity is the answer to everything, right? Positivity alone will save the world.
Not exactly. Striving to be happy or positive 24/7 isn’t a realistic goal. You can’t be positive all the time, and it’s unrealistic to hold that as an expectation for yourself and others.
Everyone has their struggles, and even if you are a generally positive person, you can still experience moments of negativity. In fact, the fear of having a negative mindset can cause more negativity and make us think we’re failing at life because we’re not as positive as others are.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to obsess about having a positive mindset. Positivity is not the be-all-end-all, and there are other goals to strive toward. Today, I’m sharing what you should focus on instead to improve your mindset in a healthy way.
The Problem With The Positivity Focus
The trouble with focusing solely on having a positive mindset is this: when you’re faced with a situation that makes you feel less than positive, you feel bad about YOURSELF for not being able to stay positive. It’s an endless cycle that leads to further negativity.
The cycle ends up looking like this: Have negative thought → Feel bad about yourself for having negative thought → More negative thoughts
We can try and force ourselves to think in positives, but sometimes that can make us feel worse than if we just accepted our situation.
“bE gRatEfUl foR wHaT yOu Have!!1” <— that’s an exaggeration, but sometimes it feels like people are talking like this.
If you can’t find it in you to be positive in that moment, does that mean you’ve failed? Is the goal to eradicate all negativity?
My friend Sarah wrote a great post about why she no longer focuses on being positive. She explains that, “It’s really hard to run while holding your breath and it’s really hard to move through grief, adapt to change, and work through frustration if you try to sugarcoat it with striving to choose happiness over giving yourself permission to feel various emotions, thoughts, and feelings.”
There is power in letting yourself feel without trying to immediately find the light at the end of the tunnel. We are allowed to feel emotions other than happiness. There’s a reason the human spectrum of emotion is so vast.
I’m not saying there’s no point in practicing gratitude and affirmations. I don’t want to downplay the importance of reframing negative experiences into something productive and healthy.
But trying to force a positive out of a negative doesn’t always get to the root of the issue. Gratitude and affirmations shouldn’t have to feel forced. The ultimate goal is to be at one with your emotions, both the negative and positive.
What To Focus On Instead
Humor me for a second and forget everything you’ve heard about a positive mindset.
Instead, what if we strive for a ‘healthy’ mindset?
Of course, there are so many different meanings to the word healthy, especially when it comes to physical health. But to me, there are two things we can strive for to build a healthy mindset:
Awareness and growth encourage you to uplift your mindset without pushing away the heavy stuff. They help you understand what’s going on within you and identify ways that you can keep moving forward.
When you experience a thought you consider to be “negative”, it’s important not to beat yourself up for thinking that way. This can lead to resentment and feeling like you’re failing yourself.
Instead, bring awareness to what you’re thinking. Learn to be aware without judging yourself for what you’re thinking.
Pay close attention to the way you think about yourself and others. Accept the thoughts you have and continue moving on with your day without letting them derail you.
Whatever’s causing you to feel negative in your life, remember to give yourself grace. It’s not permanent. It’s only a feeling. You are not your thoughts, and your thoughts are not always the truth.
Awareness also helps us to realize when we are having good and positive thoughts. If you spend all of your time believing that you only think negative thoughts, you’ll miss the times when good thoughts do come your way. Meditation and journaling are great tools for improving your awareness.
The idea of a growth mindset comes from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. Dweck talks about how some people have a fixed mindset and others have a growth mindset.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that you’re born the way you are and things can’t really change. They also believe that situations are fixed and there are no better options. Those with a growth mindset believe that things can always be learned. They believe that anything can be achieved if you put in the time and effort.
When you have a growth mindset, you ask yourself how you can move on from negative experiences. Rather than trying to force it into a positive experience, you ask, “How can I grow from this?” or “What is this teaching me right now?”
We’re all human, and we all experience dark, deep, and intense thoughts. Don’t be afraid to dig into them and see what you can learn from them.
The Ultimate Mindset Shift
I hope this post has challenged you to think outside of the box and recognize that you don’t always need to strive for positivity. Think of a healthy mindset as the ultimate goal because it encourages positivity through growth and awareness. Try to bring awareness to your thoughts, and allow yourself to grow from them rather than pushing them aside.
We’ve all heard of and most likely experienced burnout in our professional and personal lives. We live in an age where the hustle mentality is strong, so it’s no surprise that we’re more stressed out than ever.
I’ve talked about burnout on the blog before and how to identify if you’re dealing with burnout. To take it a little deeper, I think there can be different types of burnout – mental, physical, and emotional. Today, I want to focus on the concept of mental burnout.
Mental burnout makes you feel like you don’t have the mental energy or bandwidth to focus on anything. Making decisions becomes impossible, you have trouble thinking clearly, and you get overwhelmed by the slightest inconvenience.
For those of us who are overthinkers, overanalyzers, and perfectionists, we cause a lot of issues to ourselves simply by thinking.
You might not even realize you’re causing yourself stress because you blame the stress on others or your current environment. Of course these things can contribute to stress, but there’s so much power in recognizing when you are the one stressing yourself out.
When you’re mentally exhausted, you might feel like the only thing you can do is lay on the couch and watch Netflix. Though this seems like a great form of relaxation, it doesn’t help your mind *actually* shut off. Your show might feel like an escape, but it’s only a temporary fix before you feel mentally exhausted again the next day.
Without addressing the causes of mental burnout and finding ways to give your mind an actual break, you risk driving yourself into the ground.
The Causes of Mental Burnout
If you feel like your mind can never truly relax, here are seven sneaky things that might be making you feel mentally drained:
Whenever I ask people what they want to change about their mindset, most of them say they want to feel more confident about themselves. They spend so much time doubting themselves and wishing they were more secure in their own skin. The thing is that constantly doubting yourself only adds to your stress levels. Your inner critic and the way you talk to yourself about yourself can make a huge impact on your mental state. To deal with self-doubt, check out this post.
Does life feel more complicated than it needs to be? There are so many options with clothing, food, recipes, diets, exercise plans, etc. How do you know what to pick? The truth is that it’s not your fault that you feel so indecisive. Our society has given us so many options which makes it incredibly difficult to make a decision. But indecision only causes us to waste time and overthink about what we should do. To combat this, I highly recommend reading Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, so you can figure out how to make decisions more easily.
3. Lack of Boundaries
When you’re a people-pleaser who can’t say no to others, you end up taking on other people’s work, errands, and even their emotional baggage. You’ve got enough on your own plate, and you most likely don’t have the time or energy to handle other people’s crap as well. Deal with this by getting clear on your priorities and practicing the art of saying no.
If you’re constantly striving for perfection, you’re only causing yourself unnecessary stress. When you spend all of your time and mental energy worrying about whether something you’ve done is good enough, you end up getting nowhere. Done is better than perfect. Reduce the pressure you put on yourself in order to protect your mental health.
5. Fear of Judgment
When you’re constantly worried about what others think about you, it only adds to the list of things you don’t really need to think about. You’ll never know what others really think about you, so why keep trying to figure it out? If they have a problem with you, they’ll tell you. And even if they do tell you, does their opinion really matter? Don’t let the fear of what other people think keep you from making your mark on the world.
6. Constant Distractions
Our lives have become increasingly influenced by distractions. You get distracted by the suggested videos on YouTube when you wanted to watch one video. You get constant notifications on your phone and computer that take you away from what you were originally doing. Letting yourself get distracted is ultimately a form of procrastination, and procrastination only leads to guilt and stress. Distractions also clutter our minds with things that we probably never needed to know (like this video where no one showed up to this raccoon’s birthday party – sorry, I’m distracting you. It’s just so easy). Check out this post on dealing with digital distractions.
7. Worrying About the Future
If you’re constantly thinking ahead to the future and wondering how your life is going to pan out, you’re only filling your head with thoughts of what could be. There’s no harm in a little daydreaming, but worrying about every little detail of the future only contributes to mental exhaustion. Trying to find all of the answers and figure everything out can make you feel more overwhelmed than when you started. As much as you can, focus on what’s happening in the current moment and do what you can today.
As much as we try to plan ahead, life always throws curveballs our way. I’m sure you’ve had those moments when literally nothing goes the way you thought it would. The detailed plans, the perfect scenarios – they just never seem to pan out.
I’m a planner in many aspects of my life. Planning gives me a sense of certainty and eases my mind from the ‘how the heck am I going to make this work’ type of thoughts. That being said, there have been so many times in my life when I’ve imagined things going a certain way but they end up going completely wrong.
When things don’t go to plan, it’s easy to start freaking out. You might spiral into a negative place when things don’t go your way. You feel frustrated that your emotions seem to be controlling you instead of the other way around.
Even though it might seem impossible, you can teach yourself to stay calm when setbacks come their way. You just need to know what to pay attention to when it happens. In this post, I’m sharing how you can stay calm when things don’t go as planned so that you can move on instead of feeling powerless.
When Things Keep Going Wrong
Coaching a competitive high school dance team this past year has taught me the true meaning of patience. First of all, it’s a lot of work. I plan out practices, I spend time making changes to routines, and I take time out of my weekends to make sure my team is prepared.
But we had two situations this past year that *truly* tested my ability to keep my cool.
The first situation happened on a Monday during the week of a competition. When I arrived at practice, one of the dancers came up to me and told me she’d hit her head and incurred a concussion over the weekend.
I thought to myself, “A concussion?! You’ve got to be kidding me.” But I could only laugh. Not at her, but because of the circumstances. Of course this would happen right before a competition.
As a coach, I didn’t want to lose my cool in front of the team. I try to be as human as possible with them and not project this fake “I’m your coach so I have everything figured out” vibe, but I need to act in a way that helps them to stay calm too. After all, it’s hard to keep calm yourself when an adult is freaking out in front of you.
So we did a little brainstorming as a team and figured out how we could rearrange the formations. Luckily it was a Monday, and we had the rest of the week to get everyone comfortable with the changes.
“You may not control all of the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
– Maya Angelou
A month later when everything was going smoothly, one of my dancers texted me saying she needed a break from the team. This was on a Tuesday, four days before a competition. When I received that text from her, I had a mini-breakdown in my apartment. After everything was going to plan, the unexpected threw itself into the mix again.
Luckily I had the night to think about it, and in the end, I knew that we just had to move on. There was no time to dwell on it anyway.
At practice, we switched around counts and formations for the millionth time in the span of a few days. It turns out that the unexpected sometimes works in your favor because the team received their highest score of the season during that competition.
I’ve never been more impressed by a group of teenagers than the ones I coach. They were determined to keep going even when life threw every curveball imaginable at them.
How To Stay Calm During Setbacks
So how do we train ourselves to stay calm in these types of situations? There are so many emotions that come up when something goes wrong: anger, frustration, heartbreak, fear, sadness.
All of these thoughts start to go through your mind like, “Should I just give up?” and “Was all of the hard work I put in for nothing?” It’s hard not to project blame on to someone else and dwell on how things “should” have been.
Instead of going into a downward spiral, here are a few things that can help when dealing with setbacks in your life:
Set Realistic Expectations
One of the ways you can prevent frustration to begin with is making sure you’re not expecting that everything will always go your way. Life has plans of its own, regardless of what your goals are. Though I’ll always be a planner by nature, I’ve learned that you have to prepare for the unexpected. Hope for the best, but recognize that you’ll never fully be in control of the process.
When you feel yourself start to freak out, it’s important to let yourself sit with your emotions in the moment. I don’t believe in pushing your emotions aside. Your emotions give you a better sense of what’s important to you and what you value. Give yourself a moment to gather yourself. Go outside. Tell whoever you’re with that you need a moment.
From there, let yourself accept the situation instead of dwelling on it. As humans, we tend to dwell on situations because we love the feeling of intense emotions whether we realize it or not. But when you dwell on things, it only intensifies the issue and gives power to the situation. Take back the power by creating awareness around your emotions and what’s happened rather than using your energy to blame others or yourself.
Sometimes it’s hard to think clearly when you’re dealing with a setback, but the quicker you can stop dwelling, the easier it becomes to see your next steps. Rather than resorting to giving up, think about what your options are. How can you move forward from this? Talk it out with others, whether it’s asking them for advice or simply asking if they’ll listen while you talk it out. Get it out of your system in some way. When it comes to making a decision, choose the option or route that will get you closer to your overall goal, even if it will take extra effort and time.
How do you stay calm when things don’t go to plan?
In the end, keeping your cool is about preparing for the unexpected, letting yourself sit with the situation, and making the decision to take the next step. I’d love to know if you have a story similar to mine when nothing went as planned. How did you handle the situation? What lessons did you learn? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jackson’s Honest. All opinions are 100% mine.
Do you ever keep working until the moment you go to bed? Or do you feel so drained after the workday that you binge on junk food and scroll through Instagram for hours? I think this the go-to route for many of us when dealing with stress.
The trouble is that getting into certain habits like this can affect your health and mindset. You might think you’re relaxing when in reality you’re avoiding the things you know are good for your health and well-being.
If you want to ensure that you’re relaxing and taking proper time for self-care, you have to consider what you’re doing before you go to bed. That’s why it’s so important to plan out an evening routine that helps you wind down and gives you something to look forward to.
An evening routine helps you set a clear boundary between work and rest which we all need in our lives. With the right evening routine, you can start the next day feeling prepared and refreshed instead of overwhelmed and sluggish.
In this post, I’m sharing how my evening routine plays an important role in my own self-care and relaxation. I hope my routine gives you some inspiration to create your own evening ritual and make healthy choices at the end of the day!
My Current Evening RoutineStop Working
I usually get done with work around 8:30, so I’ll finish up and try to get as far from my computer as possible. I like to put my phone in another room at this time so I’m not tempted to check emails or scroll through social media.
Watch a Show
I know it’s not exactly healthy to binge watch Netflix for an entire evening, but I do find it relaxing to watch an episode or two of a show that I’m enjoying. I recently watched a Korean drama called Memories of the Alhambra on Netflix, and I absolutely LOVED it. Highly recommend. Sometimes shows can feel like an escape, and I think it’s important to have something that takes your mind off work.
Eat a snack
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been an evening snack person. I think my family has always been the type to eat a snack in the evening while watching a show, and that’s clearly rubbed off on me.
Lately I’ve been trying to make healthy choices since I don’t want anything too heavy sitting in my stomach before bed. One of my recent favorite finds is Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips. They’re grain-free and gluten-free, and they have a huge variety of flavors like Sweet Potato, Apple Cider Vinegar (tastes like salt and vinegar but better!), and Tangy Barbeque.
These chips are cooked in coconut oil over low heat which means they are full of healthy fats. I found these at a local health food market in my area, but they’re also available at places like Whole Foods.
The Jackson’s Honest brand is all about the message, “Goodness. Pass It On.” Jackson’s Honest was was founded by a mother in her kitchen as a way to bring her son’s struggle with an extremely rare autoimmune disease to a wider audience. I think we can all use the “Goodness. Pass It On” message to share our stories, discoveries, and hope with those who might need it most.
After I’ve had my snack and relaxed on the couch (around 10pm), I’ll clean up the kitchen and living room before heading to bed. I do this so that when I get up the next morning, I’m not faced with mess and clutter.
Plan My Day
I’ll take a look at my calendar and to-do list for the next day and organize my list based on what needs to get done first. I’ll also put timestamps next to each to-do list item so I know exactly when to work on them.
I’ll change into pajamas and go through my skincare routine. I always take my makeup off before bed, and my typical skincare routine includes double cleansing with a balm and cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, and night face cream. I consider skincare to be a relaxing ritual, so I make sure to do this every night.
I pretty much have to red before I go to bed or I feel like my mind doesn’t get time to properly settle down. I stick to reading fiction books at night (rather than non-fiction) because I find that non-fiction books only make my brain go into overdrive.
Create Your Own Evening Routine
If you want to create your own relaxing evening routine, here are a few things to consider:
Think about what would make you feel relaxed at the end of the day. What activities help you unwind? Also consider what kind of environment helps you feel relaxed. Do you need to make your living room or bedroom more peaceful for your evening routine? Try to make the space around you as relaxing as possible.
Make Tomorrow Easier
Think about what you can do the night before to make tomorrow less stressful. Maybe that’s planning your day, making your lunch ahead of time, or choosing an outfit for work.
There’s only so much time in the evening after work, so don’t try to cram in too much. If you try to do everything with your evening routine, you’ll only feel stressed out if you don’t get to it all – and that’s the opposite of what we want. Instead, think about what three things you could do in the evening to help you relax and unwind.
What does your evening routine look like?
I hope this post has encouraged you to switch up your current evening habits and focus on cultivating a healthy evening routine. Let me know what your favorite healthy snacks are and what flavor of Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips you want to try!
We’ve all heard the saying that how we spend our days is essentially how we spend our lives. There’s a lot of truth in this statement, which is why it’s so important to spend your day in a way that moves you closer towards your goals. It’s also important to incorporate downtime and relaxation into your day so that you don’t get burned out.
I’ve found that planning my daily schedule ahead of time is the easiest way to be productive and still make time for the things I enjoy doing. There are so many ways to plan your day which can feel a little overwhelming, but I always get inspired when I learn about how others structure their daily schedules.
Throughout my blogging journey, I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with women who are doing incredible things yet somehow staying on top of their busy lives. One thing we all seem to have in common is that we love productivity hacks and finding ways to make our days a little less stressful.
I decided to ask a handful of my favorite people how they set their days up for success to get everything done on their to-do lists.
Despite having different jobs and responsibilities, they all recognize the importance of routines and planning. Keep scrolling to read about how these women plan their daily schedule to avoid procrastination and get things done efficiently!
10 Tips for Planning Your Daily Schedule
Sheila is a Business Strategist & Mentor, founder of Blog to Biz Academy, and blogger at In Search of Sheila.
I’m a firm believer in the power of habits, and success for me begins with my morning routine! My morning routine includes yoga, meditation, journaling, and reading. Since I have a 9-5, I get most of my work done for my biz on the weekends and weeknights. Planning things intentionally is essential to getting things done. I take time every Sunday to plan my week and individual days. I take out a piece of paper and write down everything I want to do that week. Then I review & pick out my non-negotiables (blog post, newsletter, students/clients, etc.) and project-related tasks that help me achieve my goals.
Once I refine my list I plug everything into Asana and Google Calendar. Asana is where I manage my projects and recurring tasks, and Google Calendar helps me allocate when and for how long I’m going to work on something. Time blocking and the Pomodoro Method have been major game-changers for my productivity. Also, I’m a major planning nerd so I also have a paper planner. I’m currently using the Clever Fox Planner which is similar to a Bullet Journal, except the spreads are already made for you!
Lastly, success isn’t all about the hustle. I prioritize self-care into my schedule, which for me means not scheduling things to do so I can relax and recharge. Having white space on my calendar allows me to focus on me, which is very important! Some of my favorite self-care activities include yoga, reading, journaling, meditation, going for a walk/adventure outside, and of course, Netflix!
Sarah is a Productivity Coach & Mindfulness Practitioner who helps people break down overwhelm and stress into manageable action tasks to boost daily energy and create more consistent self-care.
My daily planning starts by taking a week-at-a-glance look at my days. I take time every Sunday to plan out my week and figure out which days I’ll be working on certain projects. For example, Mondays and Tuesdays are client meetings and appointments and Thursdays are always podcast recording days. These to-do list tasks are also added to my weekly to-do list in my Mindful Productivity Planner and then I also break them down even further in ClickUp. My brain needs to both write things down and have a digital way of reminding me to do things.
While every day differs, there are a few key things I strive for that help me stay on track:
1) I spend a little time at the end of each work day reflecting on what went well and what needs more time. I then map out my priorities for the following day and check to see what time adjustments need to be made.
2) I set the intention for my morning by taking time to journal or free write. This gives my brain time to declutter and allows me to decide what I want to create for myself throughout the day.
3) I set reminders for breaks, walking, and getting out of the house. Since I work from home it can be easy to spiral in to a work mode and never come up for air.
4) In addition to my to-do list, I also keep a success list of everything I accomplish throughout the day. This makes me feel good especially on days when I feel like I didn’t get anything done.
Paola is the founder and writer of Pao’s Fit World. She is a Certified Personal Trainer who created her fitness blog to share fitness tips and exclusive workout plans with others.
My morning routine is my way to set my day up for success. I need quiet, slow-pace mornings that allow me to visualize my day just the way I want it. Also, following my morning routine makes sure that when deadlines are piling up and I really need to get things done, my productivity doesn’t get affected since I mentally am in the right place.
These are some of my philosophies when working:
1. Work smarter, not harder. Basically, this means that you must commit 100% to the task before you move to something else. It may take you 3 hours to complete a task with multiple tabs opened to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. When instead, the task could have been completed in 1 hour if you had no distractions. Quality of work is far more important than quantity of work.
2. Make priority lists, not to do lists. Instead of simply writing out what needs to be done in your day, put your day’s tasks in order of most important to least. This will ensure you’re on top of your work and allow you to manage your time effectively.
3. Schedule it in. Create deadlines in your calendar for everything that needs to be completed. Not only will this remind you of what and when things need to be done, it will also ensure you don’t over-commit or forget things.
Les is the creator and host of Balanced Black Girl, a weekly podcast, blog, and community dedicated to wellness for women of color.
I work full-time and manage my blog and podcast as a side-hustler, so managing my time well is really important to me! At the start of each week, I perform a brain dump of all the tasks I intend to get done throughout the week both at work, and for my business. Then each day I create a daily to-do list based off of my weekly brain dump.
The first hour of my day is dedicated to taking care of my mindset to set me up for a productive day. During this first hour, I spend no time on my phone, and spend my time journaling, meditating, writing affirmations, setting my intentions for the day, and doing a short workout. After this initial hour I get ready for work and head to my 9-5.
At some point each day during the work day, I try to get in at least a 10 minute walk for exercise and to give my mind and body a break. Before leaving work each day, I create my to-do list for the evening, and schedule out what tasks I need to complete for my business.
When I get home from work, I give myself another “free hour” for reading, or relaxing before diving into my second workday. Then I usually spend a few hours each evening completing the tasks for my business I set out to complete at the end of my formal workday. When it’s time to go to bed, I like to wind down with tea, completing my skincare routine, and spending some time reading.
Kayla Hollatz is a website copywriter and content creator for high-achieving creative entrepreneurs who want their words to connect and convert.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in nearly four years of running my online business full-time, it’s the importance of staying flexible and adapting your daily rhythm in each season. I try to set my days up for success by prioritizing the things I care about right away in the morning. Instead of reaching for my phone to scroll through my unread email messages or social media feeds, the first thing I do is read passages of scripture and take out my journal for a few minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing. It helps me reorient my soul and start the day with a fresh perspective. It’s too easy for me to prioritize everyone else’s to-do list before my own otherwise.
Throughout the day, I try to have little check-ins with myself. How am I feeling about the flow of my workday? How are those feelings translating into my productivity? I’m a big believer in assessing your energy levels because you can have all the time in the world, but without the energy to get things done, you won’t be able to use your time as wisely. Sometimes my mood and productivity can shift by making a small change to my environment. Something as simple as switching from my desk to a nearby couch, lighting a candle while I write copy for clients, or making a hot beverage can completely transform my day.
I like to look at my daily schedule as a loose outline. It has enough structure to help me stay disciplined but also has enough wiggle room so I don’t feel boxed in. I give myself one big goal to accomplish for the day and create a list of smaller tasks I want to get to throughout the week. How quickly I get done with those smaller tasks depends on my energy levels. This process changes and evolves over time, but that’s what I love about it.
Seppy is the creator of Elle is for Love, which focuses on helping women create their dream lives by setting and achieving inspired goals.
Every morning starts the same: a few light body stretches, journaling and meditation. This morning routine sets me up for success because it helps me stay mindful throughout the day. Whether in my personal or professional life, I love writing things down to avoid forgetting anything. It also helps me keep my thoughts and to-do lists organized.
On weekdays, I work at my 9-5 job where I use a weekly and a daily to-do list. At the end of every day, I usually prepare my to-do list for the following day so that in the morning, I already know what I need to focus on. When it comes to my personal life, I use a Bullet Journal and a Passion Planner to stay organized.
To make sure that I feel accomplished while not overworking myself, whether in my personal or professional life, I try to limit the number of tasks that I schedule in a day so that I can feel fulfilled when I’ve been able to cross off most of my list. I also try to batch work whenever possible, which means focusing on one task for a specific amount of time and getting it done. This includes things like meal prepping and household chores, as well as social media planning or writing content for my blog.
Sarah is a DIYer & designer of SISOO.com. She shares tutorials of her latest DIY projects and offers physical and digital products to inspire the most courageous, creative, organized, beautiful life of your dreams.
Every day is different because I wear so many hats. The most helpful tool I use to schedule my day is Trello. I create a separate board for each project I’m working on. I can add endless columns, to-dos, details, images. I can even share each board and tag others involved and set deadlines. I also have a daily “TO DO” board that is the first thing I check each day with my morning cup of coffee. I love that I can access Trello from my phone, computer or iPad!
I keep it simple, I have 5 columns on this “TO DO” board: 1) Mandatory Today 2) Important Today 3) Mandatory Tomorrow 4) Important Tomorrow and lastly 5) On-Deck. I’ve discovered the importance of distinguishing mandatory tasks (things that maintain my business) from important tasks (things that grow my business).
Trello lets me prioritize my important, strategic tasks I need to get done alongside my urgent, maintenance tasks. As a task is completed in the today column, I can archive the card and then drag and drop a new card from the “tomorrow” column. Everything keeps moving to the left as my to-dos get completed. The board’s flow of completion sort of simulates a board game. For me, it’s more challenging and fun to work this way (not to mention organized!). If the “today” and “tomorrow” columns become empty with tasks, I pull more mandatory and important items from the on-deck column.
Kelly Maia Agnew, CNP is a holistic nutritionist, self-care junkie, and the founder of Kelly Maia Nutrition where she empowers women on their journey to healthy living.
To me, success means managing all of the different things on my plate, but also respecting and nourishing my own needs. I work full-time in a corporate office, but also work part-time on my nutrition and wellness business. Most of my work involves being behind a screen, on social media, and working with people, so there are many elements to juggle and balance!
My mornings usually start at 6am with a sunlight alarm clock that wakes me up by mimicking the sun rising. This style of alarm clock has changed my mornings! Once I’m out of bed, I get ready for work and head down to the kitchen. I take my time making a delicious smoothie for breakfast, then I grab lunch and head out the door. If I’m feeling particularly stressed out, I will fit in a 10 minute meditation in the mornings.
In the corporate world, I have access to fancy tools and software to keep my to-do lists handy and manage projects; but in my own business, I love using the free Google apps, like Google Docs and Google Drive. For project management, I use Asana. It helps me keep track of things like blog posting and gives me deadlines when I work on larger nutrition programs.
In the evenings I schedule self-care time. I prioritize a nourishing homemade meal for me and my husband (yes this is self-care too!). We watch some Netflix together, but I end my day with some light reading or meditation. I’m usually in bed by 9:30 or 10pm so I can get my 8 hours of sleep and do it all over again!
Tell me if you can relate to this: When a new week approaches, you feel stressed out because you’re not prepared at all. By the end of the week, you feel frustrated because you didn’t use your time in the most productive way.
We’ve all had the Sunday scaries for the week ahead. We’ve all left things until the last minute and then complained at the end of the week about not having enough time. And yes, that’s me calling you and myself out.
This anxiety and dread usually happens when you go through the week without a plan. If you don’t know what you need to get done and when you’re going to work on it, the chances of it happening are pretty slim.
Planning your week gives you time and space to figure out how you’re going to fit everything in. If you’re trying to make progress at work and in your personal life, planning your week will help you get there. Plus you won’t feel like a chicken with your head cut off trying to do things at the last minute.
In this post, I’m sharing five steps that will help you plan your week in a more productive and efficient way!
Why you should plan your week
If I don’t have a hint of a plan for my week, I will stumble my way through my work trying to get everything done at once. Those are the kind of weeks where I feel totally unfocused and flustered, and naturally I want to avoid that as much as possible.
Planning is important because it helps you use your time in the most efficient way. You can realistically gauge how much you can get done and how much time you have to do it. That way, you can feel accomplished knowing that you did what you set out to do.
My routine these days is to sit down on a Sunday evening and review my goals and monthly plan. I’ll figure out what really needs to get done for the week ahead and what I’d like to get done. Once I have my weekly plan, I can go to bed with a little more peace of mind before the week begins.
“You have a choice in life. You can either live on-purpose, according to a plan you’ve set. Or you can live by accident, reacting to the demands of others.”
– Michael Hyatt
How to plan your week
When planning your week, you basically want to create an outline of what you’re going to do each day. This plan doesn’t have to be super detailed (that would be better for a daily schedule), but it should help you feel prepared for the entire week.
Tip: Before you begin planning your week, make sure you have all the tools you need to keep you on track. For example, I use a blank notebook for writing notes, Asana for setting deadlines, and a weekly calendar to keep track of appointments.
Make note of any appointments or events that you need to plan around.
Step 2: Make A Detailed List
Make a list of every little thing you need and want to get done this week. This list could range from big projects to tasks like grocery shopping.
Go through the list and see if there’s anything that could be moved to another week if it’s not urgent now.
Step 3: Set Your Priorities
Figure out what absolutely needs to get done this week based on your list. Label or highlight these tasks as your weekly priorities.
Keep your weekly priorities list to 3-7 items.
Step 4: Design Action Steps
Create a bulleted list of action steps for each priority on your to-do list.
Think about action steps that will help you get your priorities completed or even just started.
Step 5: Make Your Schedule
Figure out which of your priority tasks you’re going to work on for each day of the week. Assign each priority from your list to a designated day.
If it works for your schedule, group similar tasks together so your brain doesn’t have to switch between different types of activities.
For each day of the week, choose the ‘one big thing’ that must get done. This will help you to stay focused and accomplish the most important thing first.
Sidenote: Sometimes your priorities for each day will change even after you’ve planned them. That’s just life. As much as you possibly can, try to stick to the plan you’ve set for yourself. Just don’t be hard on yourself if other things suddenly have to become priorities.
What does your weekly planning process looking like?
I hope this post has given you some ideas for creating your own weekly planning process so you can set your schedule up for a super productive week. Share any weekly planning tips you recommend in a comment below!
Do you ever get to the end of the month and wonder if you’ve actually accomplished anything? It might seem like you’ve been working constantly, yet you can’t remember what you were even working on.
If you live by daily to-do lists, you might not be working in alignment with your bigger goals and priorities. It’s easy to get into autopilot mode and do the same things day in and day out without actually making progress on what matters.
That’s why I’m a huge fan of monthly planning. For the past year or so, I’ve gotten into the habit of planning my months ahead of time.
I’m someone who feels anxious and stressed if I’m not prepared, so this process has been a game changer for reducing my stress levels. It’s also helped me to stay on top of everything I need to get done and anticipate what’s to come.
I love seeing how other people plan their time, so I thought I’d share how I plan ahead and set my month up for success. I hope my monthly planning process inspires you to plan and organize your schedule ahead of time!
The Benefits of Monthly Planning
Maybe you’re wondering why you should plan your month ahead of time. Of course it’s not totally necessary, but here are a few reasons why you might want to try it:
You’ll feel like you have your life together
I’ve always been the type to plan ahead because it makes me feel prepared for what’s to come. I’m not a huge fan of winging it, and I try to avoid it when possible. Though things don’t always go to plan, creating a monthly outline can reduce unnecessary stress and make you feel like you’re on top of your game.
You won’t let things fall through the cracks
I find that planning my month ahead of time helps me stay on track with my goals. Instead of going through the month on autopilot, I can take into consideration my long term goals and vision for the future. That way, I’m more likely to make progress on them.
You won’t feel rushed to get things done
When you have a plan for the month, it gives you a sense of what you can realistically get done. By planning ahead of time, you can space out what needs to get done without feeling rushed. After all, if you try to work on too many projects in the same week, it’s only going to overwhelm you.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
– Alexander Graham Bell
Monthly Planning PreparationPlanning Tools
Before you start planning out your month, it’s helpful to get organized with a few different tools. Here’s what I use:
A notebook to dump out ideas and plans for the month.
A monthly calendar to keep track of appointments. I prefer Google Calendar because I can move things around with ease.
A tool for managing your projects, tasks, due dates, and recurring tasks. I recommend Asana or Trello, but you can also use a paper planner like the Erin Condren LifePlanner (pictured above).
When to Plan
I like to plan my month the week before it starts. This gives me time to get prepared so I’m not doing it all on the first of the month. That being said, you can still plan the rest of your month now no matter how much time you have left in the month.
Monthly Planning Process1. Review Goals
Before I start planning out my month, I review the yearly goals I’ve set for myself. You can read this post here about how I set and plan out my goals. Reviewing my goals helps me remember what I should be focused on so I’m planning tasks that align with my bigger priorities.
2. Calendar Overview
I’ll take a look at my Google Calendar for the month and see what I have going on. This reminds me of appointments, events, and dates I need to plan around that I’d probably forget otherwise. I’ll also use this time to look through emails and messages to see if I have any other appointments to plan for.
3. Content Planning
I usually plan my blog content out on a quarterly basis and then split my months into certain themes. When I’m planning my month, I’ll review what my monthly theme is and the content I have planned. I’ll then outline each blog post and rearrange my blog and newsletter topics into an order that makes sense.
4. Project Planning
I have a running list of projects that I want to work on, such as program creation, website updates, and promotions. I’ll take a look at the list and figure out which projects I want to work on this month or need to continue working on. Once I’ve decided that, I’ll break the projects down into smaller steps in Asana and set due dates for each task. That way, I know what to work on for each week of the month.
5. Weekly Outlines
If I want to get SUPER on top of my game (let’s be honest, I don’t always do this), I’ll make an outline in my notebook for each week. In my outline, I’ll include my top three priorities for each week so that I know exactly what to focus on. Of course these things can change, but you can never be too prepared, right?
Do you plan your months in advance?
I hope this post has encouraged you to try monthly planning and see how it can work for you. It’s been a game changer for increasing my productivity and reducing my stress levels, so I hope it helps you too. I’d love to know how you plan your months if you have your own method!
Do you love setting goals but never seem to follow through with them? I’m sure you’ve felt the excitement of setting goals…only to forget about them a few weeks later. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you.
If you’ve ever not achieved a goal you’ve set for yourself, I’m guessing your goal wasn’t specific or realistic enough. You probably felt overwhelmed by how much work it would take. Maybe you gave up because you weren’t making progress when you weren’t actually taking any action.
If you want to start achieving your goals, you have to break them down into steps that don’t completely stress you out. I recently mapped out my yearly goals into action steps, and I’m determined to make them happen this year.
I’ve set goals for my health (train for a 5k), finances (pay off debt), and business (more clients, products sales, and sponsors). From there, I’ve figured out what I need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to make them happen.
Goals don’t have to be daunting. You simply need an achievable action plan. Because I want to help you achieve your goals, I’m sharing a simple process you can use to break down your goals into action steps. Keep reading so you can create your own step-by-step goal plan!
Goal Action Planning 101
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
– Pablo Picasso
What is an action plan?
An action plan is a step-by-step method to get things done. I like to think of it as a plan of attack. It’s a way to break up huge, overwhelming tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of work your goal will take, an action plan will make it feel achievable.
Why do I need an action plan?
Creating action plans for my goals is something I’ve done since I was in college. Before that, I kept vague goal ideas floating around in my head until I forgot about them (surprise, surprise). Breaking my goals down into an action plan helped me get more done and generally feel more on top of my life. Also, it’s rewarding to feel like I’m making progress even if I haven’t achieved the end goal yet.
What if my goal isn’t actionable?
If you can’t find a way to break a larger goal into smaller steps, it’s most likely not the right goal for you. To figure out the right goals for you, I recommend reading through these posts first:
Download the free goal planner here or grab a blank piece of paper. Writing down your goals with pen and paper can make them feel more concrete.
Step 2 / Bigger Goals
Write down your top 3-5 goals for the year. For each goal, repeat steps 3-10.
Step 3 / Set Deadlines
Set a deadline for your goal. Be realistic with your time frame, but challenge yourself to get it done sooner rather than later.
Step 4 / The Why
Write your reason for pursuing this goal. The “why” is important for helping you identify the positive impact this goal will have on your life.
Step 5 / Habits
Identify a daily or weekly habit that will keep you on track with your goal. For example, keeping your phone in airplane mode while you work. Habits are the framework for success, so it’s important to align your habits with your goals.
Step 6 / Action Steps
List out every single step that needs to happen to achieve this goal. What it would take to get from A-Z? What about from A-B? Once you’ve done that, condense your list into 3-5 action steps.
Step 7 / Order
Review your list of action steps and order them in a way that makes sense based on what needs to happen first.
Step 8 / Smaller Tasks
For each action step you’ve identified, ask yourself what smaller tasks need to get done to make the larger action step easier for you.
Step 9 / Due Dates
Set a start date and end date for each action step and smaller task. Add them to your calendar or favorite to-do list tool (I love Asana).
Step 10 / Reminders
Set up reminders on your phone or computer so that you always know when to work on each action step or habit.
How To Stay Focused On Your Action Plan
“By thinking about your goals every morning, many times during the day, and every night, you begin moving toward it and bringing it toward you.”
– Bob Proctor
Be clear on what you’re trying to do by writing down exactly how you’re going to do it. Keep your goals in a visible place (download this goal planner) so you’re reminded of them often. Review your goals every morning or week as part of your routine.
Take responsibility for your own actions. You have an obligation to yourself, so commit to yourself and your future. Don’t blame others for holding you back or delaying your success. Work on being consistent with your actions and putting effort into your goals day in and day out.
If you get off track, pick up and keep going. There’s no point using up your energy by worrying about how far behind you are. You might have to adjust some deadlines here and there (or completely), and that’s okay. Keep your vision for your future top of mind, and you’ll find a way to get there.
I hope this post has encouraged you to break your own goals down into actionable steps. I’d love to know if this process works for you and what your top goals are right now. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
Get the Goal Planning Worksheet
A step-by-step guide to help you turn your goals into an action plan.