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The Simple Hack to Stress Less, Get More Done, and Stay on Track

Tell me if any of this resonates:

Are you way too busy?  Are there just not enough hours in the day?  Are you always taking care of so many other people and priorities that there is just nothing left for yourself?  Do you stay up at night stressing about your to do list, and then spend half the day trying to coffee yourself up enough to function?  Do you feel like you’re always running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off?  No matter how hard you try, is getting it all done a constant struggle?

You’re not alone.

One of the lasting effects of the pandemic has been that a lot of normal boundaries around work got completely eroded.  Work demands and life stress feel higher than ever.  Add the demands of kids.  Add a smartphone that is constantly telling you every bad thing happening in the world, and that you’re a bad person if you don’t care about all of it.  It’s all getting to be a bit much isn’t it?  We’re all more stressed and over-extended than ever.

I can relate because I’m a workaholic and tend to be wound a little tight.  A few months ago I tried something simple that made a DRASTIC difference to my day.  I stopped missing workouts.  I stopped missing meals.  My sleep got better.  My stress went down.  And to top it all off, I was able to get more done, get more important things done, and feel less overextended while doing it.

I started using a paper daily planner.  I bought one that was okay.  Then I designed my own and ordered enough to give one to every one of my clients as a gift.

Most of you reading will scoff and say you don’t need to do this.  Hear me out.  I didn’t need more time.  I needed more focus.

Here’s the routine: every evening, I take pencil to paper and write down my plan for the day in 30 minute increments.  I start by pulling my appointments for the day off my cloud based calendar.  Then I fill in when I will workout and when I will eat.  Then I look at my to do list of tasks, prioritize them, and write down when I will do them.

This is all done the night before.  Then I sleep like a baby because I no longer need to worry about all the things I need to get done and how I’m going to do it all.  I have a plan.

In the morning, I review the plan, write down 3 things I am grateful for, write down my top 3 priorities for the day, set a hydration goal, and then the MAGIC happens: I pretty much stop thinking about what to do.  I’ve got a plan, so it’s east to stay focused on one task at a time.  Because I don’t have to constantly think about all the things I have to do, and decide what is most urgent in the moment, my mind is calmer and quieter.  That makes me better at the stuff I’m doing.

Not every day goes exactly as planned, but every day goes better than if I didn’t have a plan.

The best part?  Most of the time at the end of the day, I get to actually feel DONE.  It beats the pants off of feeling like I’m quitting because there is still so much to do.

None of this is earth shattering.  I had heard about block tasking a long time ago, tried it, didn’t like it, and didn’t think I needed it.  Here’s my answer to some reservations I used to have:

Why can’t I just use the calendar on my phone?  Technology has it’s benefits.  Use your phone calendar to keep track of your appointments long term.  Once it’s the day of, switch to paper.  Why?  Every time you check your phone to see what’s next, you’ll also check a bunch of other stuff most likely and waste a ton of time in the process.  Now, I just glance at my planner for what to do next.  My planner never made me mindlessly scroll on social media but my phone sure has.

I can’t plan my whole day down to the minute.  Too many things come up.  I get it.  Anytime someone calls the business, I need to pick up the phone.  Anytime someone inquires, I need to stop what I’m doing and reach out.  Any small business spews out plenty of random fires the owner has to put out.  I literally just had to stop writing this article to deal with an exterminator showing up way out of their time window.  I’m familiar with things coming up.  That said, you will still stay on track more if you have a plan.  Write it in pencil so you can adjust when needed.  In combat, things come up.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t do a lot of planning when I was in the Marine Corps.

I can keep track of my stuff just fine without doing this.  Maybe.  If you never struggle to get everything done, you never skip a workout or a meal because you got busy, and you never lose any sleep because you’re stressed, then maybe you don’t need to worry about this.  For the rest of us mortals, I have a challenge: Try this for 5 days, Monday through Friday, and see if it helps.

Because I got sick of the planner I was using, I designed the PERFECT daily planner and every member of On Target Fitness gets to have one for FREE!  My thanks to you all for being rad!

 When you’re ready to talk with a personal trainer about your goals, fill out the form at the top or bottom of this page and I will take care of the rest : )

Serving Portsmouth, Kittery, and the broader Seacoast community, we help people finally get in shape, feel confident, and have all day energy, even if getting everything done is a constant struggle.

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