It’s National Time Management Month, and we have tips and tricks to help you improve your time management skills.
Prioritize and learn to say no. Each day, prioritize what needs to happen in your private and professional life. When you don’t have time for things outside those priorities, politely refuse to add more to those.
Schedule your time and set deadlines. Use a planner or digital calendar to keep track of your obligations. Use it to schedule blocks of time for things you need to get done, like grocery shopping, and stick to it like you would a deadline.
Delegate tasks. Let co-workers help with work, and if you need help picking up the dry-cleaning or getting the kids to practice, ask friends and family for help.
Make to-do lists. Whether they’re online, on an app, or written down, a to-do list for the day can help make managing your work or personal life easier. And they give you a sense of accomplishment as you finish things.
Avoid multi-tasking whenever possible. Even people who are great at multi-tasking can get big projects done faster and more efficiently when they’re allowed to focus. Give yourself the time to focus on the big stuff.
Start early, and avoid procrastination. Starting the day early helps you make a plan for the day. And by starting with your toughest work first, the rest of the day will feel easier in comparison.
Take breaks and rest. Too much stress can take a toll on your productivity, so go for a walk or stop and get some hot tea whenever you feel tired or stressed. And rest to avoid exhaustion, which hurts your productivity in the long run.
The end of April and beginning of May might be the craziest month-long stretch I’ve ever planned for myself. I will be battling traveling stress each week with almost no downtime in between.
First, I spent a weekend with loved ones around Indy, going to the zoo and shopping. Then, my mom, sister-in-law, and I went on a big weekend trip to New York City to see a Broadway show. The next weekend, I’m headed to Chicago to visit some old friends. The 2 weekends after that, I’m driving home for events, and then the weekend after that, I’m off to Seattle.
No matter what, traveling is stressful, so to get through it, I’m trying to plan ahead, stay on top of things, make the healthiest decisions I can on the go, and enjoy the moments of fun that are the whole point of traveling in the first place.
Planning Ahead to Avoid Traveling Stress
While tickets and such have been booked ahead of time, the planning never ends there.
First, I spring-cleaned my apartment like crazy so that it could survive the coming month without looking like a wasteland.
I pulled tons of great tips to make this list from the helpful resources we shared in our Spring Cleaning for National Cleaning Week post, like using rubber gloves to wipe dog hair off my furniture, freshening up my garbage disposal, and more.
Organize, Organize, Organize
I’ve been making a list of all the things I need to do before each trip, so I don’t do something silly and forgetful, like making myself late by forgetting to put gas in my car before driving to the airport.
And this list doesn’t just include the things I need to pack but also the things I need to do around the house and the errands I need to run first.
This helps me stay on track and not forget all the little things that have to be pulled together at the last minute.
I try to pack as much as I can ahead. The key to-do’s I can mark off in advance:
Buy or organize travel liquids if I’m flying.
Check the weather forecast.
Plan versatile outfits, like things that can mix and match and fit the weather and planned activities, including shoes because I get blisters easily.
Organize or switch to a purse better for travel.
Never forget essentials, like headphones, a book, sunscreen, bandaids, gas in the car, and meds.
Plan driving times and routes.
Then, at the last minute, I can just add in the things I’m still using, like my makeup bag, toothbrush, and phone charger, and avoid all that last-minute packing stress.
Planning for Work
Another important key to planning ahead is making sure work is ready for me to be completely unavailable.
Usually that just means talking to my co-workers in advance and making sure anything that takes place on the weekends, like social media for the next week, is done early.
One of the easiest ways to ruin your vacation is to have to drop everything for work, so make sure you’ve talked to your co-workers and set boundaries for when you’ll be available.
Then, stick to those boundaries because vacations are an important part of avoiding burnout. If you’re only going to check email once a day, stick to that and do it at a time when it won’t ruin your day.
Staying on Top of Things to Avoid Traveling Stress
No matter how much planning you do, it can all fall apart while you’re there if you focused on the wrong thing.
I like to make plans for each day with loose free time around them. You never want to have to be too many places in one day, so one meal with reservations and one event or activity that requires tickets in advance per day is probably plenty. You can munch or discover something new when you’re actually hungry the rest of the time, which can help you avoid overeating on a trip. And you’ll have more time to focus on something you love instead of rushing off to your next activity.
I also like to have extra time planned in so that if I’m exhausted, I can take a nap, shower after a hot outdoor activity, or simply enjoy downtime by watching a movie or grabbing an appetizer with my loved ones.
Get Your Bearings
Another key can be knowing your location and how to get around. I’ve lived in New York and Chicago, so I know my way around the neighborhoods and how the subways work, and pulling up a location on my phone is more than enough for me to find my way in either place.
However, I’ve never been to Seattle, so looking at maps and familiarizing myself with what’s where will be a much more important part of planning that trip so I don’t end up lost when I get there.
Identify what you need to focus on in preparation for each trip for a smooth journey to avoid hiccups in the moment.
Start the Day Off Right
Each morning of your trip, it’s a good idea to review your plans with everyone. Not only will it put you all on the same page, but it will help you remember which important tickets, confirmation numbers, or reservation details you need to bring along that day for your planned activities.
Making Healthy Choices to Avoid Traveling Stress
Traveling stress skyrockets for me when I feel guilty about it, so I’m trying to make healthy choices wherever I go.
A few weeks ago, I bought a Ringly ring. Ringly is a fitness tracker that syncs to your phone but looks like jewelry. I’d been wanting a tracker for a while, and the design of these adorable pieces made me finally get on board.
You charge it in a ring box and manage it from an app on your phone, and no one would ever know from looking at it that it’s a tracker.
Because of this new tracker, I can see how much walking I’m doing each weekend. The weekend in Indy, I walked 9.2 miles. And in NYC, we planned in time to walk the High Line and the bottom half of Central Park. We ended up walking 25.5 miles total!
I also try to choose healthier food choices most of the time without sacrificing the experience.
Enjoying the Moment to Avoid Traveling Stress
Finally, the stress-busting key for me is enjoying the fun parts of traveling. Those moments have to outweigh the stress, or it’s not worth it!
In NYC, we:
Ate at Bobby Flay’s Gato
Saw the new show Amélie
Spent a day at Chelsea Market
Walked the High Line
Had a ball at Waitress, including the perfect-serving-size, tiny Key Lime and Marshmallow Pies at intermission (And they raised $20,000 dollars in a little auction at the end of the show for charity!)
Indulged in the special Easter brunch menu at Tom Colicchio’s Craft
Explored Central Park
With more crazy weekends ahead of me, I hope my planning helps me stay sane!
Tips for Your Travels
If you need more tips to make it through your next trip and traveling stress, these can help:
Focusing on a balanced diet is one of the best ways to make healthy eating a part of your life.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The USDA sets Dietary Guidelines for Americans regularly to help guide balanced diet choices. While these guidelines can seem complicated, there are key takeaways from them you should know.
The Importance of Healthy Eating
Healthy eating helps prevent and slow the onset of diseases, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Include in a Balanced Diet
A healthy and balanced diet, which for most people is around 2,000 calories a day, includes a variety of:
Vegetables, including a variety of dark green, red, and orange veggies, legumes, which include beans and peas, and starchy veggies, like corn and potatoes.
Fruits, especially whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which are the perfect serving size.
Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) or appropriate substitutes.
A variety of foods high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, soy-based products (like tofu), nuts and seeds.
Oils (like canola, olive, peanut, and soybean) or naturally occurring oils in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.
Limit in a Balanced Diet
Added sugars should make up less than 10% of your daily calories, which can be hidden in processed and prepared foods, like soda, cereal, cookies, and more.
Limit saturated and trans fats, which should make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Foods high in these include butter, whole milk, and palm oil. Replace with unsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil whenever you can.
Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Processed foods, like pizza, and canned soup and sauces can be high in this salt.
A Balanced Diet with MyPlate
MyPlate replaced the food pyramid as the guide to making sense of servings. It helps you look at your plate and strike a balance with each meal.
This chart can help you divide your own plates appropriately:
Fruits and veggies should make up about half of your plate, with just over a quarter filled with whole grains, and protein should be under a quarter. (A few ounces of meat, a piece about the size of the palm of your hand, is a good serving size for most people.) Also work in a small serving of dairy through milk, cheese, or yogurt to round out your meal.
Making Smart Choices
Combine these guidelines with smart choices, and you’ll be well on your way to eating a balanced diet. And making these smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of tips and tricks that can help you make a balanced diet a part of your daily life.
This can help you understand how balanced your diet and food servings are and set and reach food goals.
Making and Meeting Food Goals
Making small changes in your eating habits can have long-term effects:
Switch to high fiber, low-sugar cereals.
Give up soda with flavored sparkling waters.
When you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat something.
Plan for all of the places you go in life:
Instead of eating out for lunch at work, start planning and meal-prepping ahead of time, and avoid the vending machines.
If you know your kids aren’t making great food choices at school, get them involved in packing lunches they’ll love ahead of time.
When you know you’ll spend the day at the mall, carry snacks and a water bottle, eat a healthy breakfast or snack before you head out, and skip the food court. If you just can’t avoid a meal or a snack while you’re out, find the healthiest option. Load up a sandwich with veggies, get frozen yogurt without all kinds of extra sweet toppings instead of ice cream, and choose hot tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of a frappachino.
Check menus for calorie counts when you’re eating out. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side, avoid fried foods, and keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can be full of calories.
Many communities have community gardens. Join in and help out to get moving and to grow things your whole family can enjoy in meals.
Results and Rewards
Don’t beat yourself up when you have missteps.
Everyone struggles with giving up the foods full of sugar and salt that they love, so it’s important to stay positive and get back on track.
Plan your cheat day.
Many people have found that planning a weekly cheat day can help them stay on course knowing they can treat themselves later. And once you get used to a balanced diet, you’ll find that you’ll cheat in smaller and smaller ways, even on the day you’re allowed to.
Find healthy ways to treat yourself.
For example, do you love watermelon or raspberries? Splurge on the healthy treats you love. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate each day or a glass of red wine each week. Another option, reward meeting your goals with a treat that isn’t food-related, like a new outfit, book, or manicure.