Y’all, the fall gets busy. It seems like everything kicks back up this time of year. We may not be headed back to school, but there’s still this feeling of, “okay, it’s time to buckle down on everything I’ve let slide over a lazy summer.
And between work priorities, weekend trips, football games, and events several nights a week, it’s almost impossible to find time for ourselves – and our side hustles – in this season.
BUSY DAYS AND BUSY EVENINGS
Because of this ramp up in all aspects of life during the fall, it makes for busy days and busy evenings. It sometimes seems like’s no break from the madness. But, this season is temporary, and we have to learn to manage our time in an effective manner that allows us to stay on top of our careers, our side hustles, and out social lives. It comes down to a combination of saying yes, saying no, prioritizing, batching our to-do lists, and, yes, even taking time for ourselves.
LEARN TO SAY YES
My first piece of advice is to learn to say yes to the things you want to do. Sometimes you just have to buck up, realize that things may be a bit crazy for a while, and charge forward headfirst. Make sure you’re making time to take care of yourself with self-care and meditation so you don’t get overwhelmed, but do your best to look at that jam packed calendar with excitement rather than intimidation.
Don’t miss out on an event that could leave you inspired just because you don’t want to miss your daily workout. Switch that workout from 6 PM to 6 AM and make it work. I’ll write more on this in a minute, but so much of saying yes comes down to scheduling your time in a way that makes sense.
LEARN TO SAY NO
Of course with saying yes comes saying no. Learn to say no to those things that aren’t priorities for you. Don’t want to go to the fall happy hour for a networking group that routinely leaves you feeling less than inspired? Just say no. If you didn’t have any productive conversations the last 2 times you went, you probably won’t this time.
Too often I’ve gone to something thinking, “maybe this is the time I’ll make an introduction that changes my course in an impactful way.” And guess what? It never happens. So going forward, I’m not wasting my time on events and projects that I’m not genuinely excited about – or at least that I believe will have some positive effect on my professional or personal life.
BATCH WORK THROUGHOUT THE WEEK
When it comes to those things you’re saying yes to, learn how to batch them into groups throughout the week. This goes for everything from answering emails to editing photos to writing to catching up with friends. I’ll set aside one evening a week to edit all my photos for blog posts for the next week. I’ll pick one weekend day to schedule back to back brunch, coffee, happy hour dates. I’ll wake up early one morning to knock out writing several posts before my workday starts. To the extent that I can, I truly try to work in a mindset of getting into a flow and pushing through.
Of course, there will always be to-do lists items and obligations and appointments that have to fall on a certain day at a certain time, but if you batch the items you do have control over, it’ll help immensely.
STICK TO THE SCHEDULE YOU’VE SET
This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about how saying yes just comes down to sticking to a schedule. You can say yes to everything (or most everything) that you want to do, if you set a schedule. Look at your day or week realistically. Maybe you have both a happy hour and a girls’ dinner you want to attend on the same night. Don’t assume you have to forgo one for the other or get overwhelmed and think you can’t make it to both. Write it in your calendar – you’ll go to the HH from 6 to 6:45 PM and be at the dinner by 7 PM. And stick to it!
Don’t let one obligation bleed into the next. Keep them in their pre-determined lane (unless there are absolutely extenuating circumstances!) and hold yourself accountable to the schedule you’ve set. Go to that barre class at 5:30 PM and you can still make it to that panel discussion at 7 PM. Work on that freelance project from 6:30 AM to 8:00 AM and wrap up that blog post from 8:00 AM to 8:45 AM, and you’ll be ready to start your day at 9 AM. It’s all about setting a schedule that prioritizes your priorities and sticking to it.
And, remember, if it’s really just not fitting into your calendar, it’s probably not important to you, so just say no and don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
FOCUS ON SELF CARE
And, what kind of millennial would I be if I didn’t include a shout out to self care in this post? Of course all this crossing off to-do list items and saying yes to inspiring obligations is great, but you also need to make time to recharge and take care of yourself. So, carve out an hour for yourself on a slow Wednesday night and go to that restorative yoga class, meditate, or pamper yourself with a face mask. Maybe wake up an hour earlier to have some quiet time for a cup of tea and journaling. Perhaps you want to plan a truly relaxing, unplugged trip when things slow down.
Whatever it is that lets you recharge, make sure that has just as prominent a spot in your calendar.
Photos taken at a happy hour last week at the newly renovated St. Gregory Hotel in Dupont Circle.