How do I manage a more efficient work life? How do I navigate through competing priorities? How do I maintain my sleep while also accomplishing my goals? These are some of the many questions I am often asked.
Personally, I am proud to sleep a minimum of 7 hours a day. I am less proud of watching a lot of TV every day. I am able to participate in these activities while managing a professional, community-driven, and social life. In this blog post, I share some of my thoughts, exercises, and strategies for creating and maintaining a more efficient life.
Exercise 1: Map-a-Week
The objective of this activity is to review where and how you allocate your time in hours to routine activities for an average week.
Let’s start with an average week of 168 hours:
- Sleep: 168 hours – 49 hours per week (7 hours per day) = 119 hours remaining
- Work: 119 hours – 40 hours per week = 79 hours remaining
- Eat: 79 hours – 17.5 hours per week (2.5 hours per day) = 61.5 hours remaining
- Washroom Activities (e.g., showering): 61.5 hours – 10.5 hours per week (1.5 hours a day) = 51 hours remaining
- Commuting: 51 hours – 5 hours per week (1 hour per day) = 46 hours remaining
- Social/Family Life: 46 hours – 18 hours per week (2 hours per day; 8 hours in total on weekends) = 28 hours remaining
There are some more considerations:
- Sleep: 28 hours – Extra 10 hours per week = 18 hours remaining
- Overlap 1: Social/family life and eating can occur together – it is generally healthy and culturally appropriate to eat with family or friends. Personally, I prefer eating with family or friends, saving 10 or more hours per week = 28 hours remaining
- Overlap 2: Working and commuting – I reserve some tedious work (e.g., emailing and data transfer) for my commute on the bus. This may not be possible for everyone but it is appropriate for my life = 33 hours remaining
- Efficiency: If someone is very efficient, they may be able to free up another 10 hours per week by overlapping other activities.
This analysis means that there are 33 hours remaining. Where does this time go?
- Continuing education
- Community project
- Self-care activities
- Businesses or independent projects
Personally, I decide to dedicate 15-20 hours to a Master’s program, and the remainder to a personal business or community project. The purpose of this activity is to encourage you all to take a moment and a blank piece of paper to complete this exercise. You may discover some interesting things about your weekly life, and areas where you can optimize your life.
Exercise 2: Life Management Tools
I find it very helpful to use productivity software and applications to organize my personal and professional commitments. There are several benefits of using apps to manage your life:
(1) Fewer scheduling mistakes
(2) Managing priorities becomes easier
(3) Communication with collaborators becomes easier
(4) Less stress in managing conflicting priorities
I suggest for you to explore to-do list managers and calendar applications, and find apps that you are comfortable with using. Here are some links for you to explore applications:
Apps that will make your life so much easier by Buzzfeed:
25 apps to make your everyday life easier by TED Blog:
Apps to make life easier by Mashable:
9 free apps that immediately make life easier for the Entrepreneur:
I recommend Todoist to manage tasks and projects, and Outlook Calendar to remind you of important meetings, dinners, and events.
Exercise 3: Gratitude intervention
Being grateful for our lives is an important personality trait. It is also an activity that you can perform a set of simple instructions. Personally, I have had the first-hand experience of the effects of increased gratitude on my wellness. There are many activities that may increase gratitude. The simplest one requires you to write on a blank piece of paper 10 things about your life that make you feel grateful. I encourage you to complete this activity.
Exercise 4: Routinization
I believe that some daily activities should be routinized. These activities can be programmed to be performed at the same time and in the same way every day. By performing these activities consistently, our body and mind may function more efficiently.
- Consistent Sleep: Sleep and wake up at the same time every day. In the beginning, it may be difficult to adjust to a consistent sleep-wake schedule but in the long-term, your mind and body will definitely feel better.
- Sleep Early: A lot of research has documented the benefits of sleeping and waking up early. Personally, I sleep between 10 and 11 pm and wake up between 5 and 6 am.
- Quality of Sleep: I recommend downloading and using an application called Sleep Cycle (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/sleep-cycle-alarm-clock/id320606217?mt=8) that records your movements during sleep. This application may provide you with helpful information to improve your sleeping quality
Do you have any strategies you use to make your life more efficient? Comment below!