Time Management Tips Practical Strategies From Fitness Blender Trainers
- Category Mental Health
In this article, we defined time management, reviewed the literature on how helpful time management strategies are for our lives, and discussed the significant importance of priorities and balance in this process.
Though research shows that time management skills generally improve our lives, there is no prescribed strategy or tool that has been shown to be more effective than others. This is because we are all different, and accommodating time management strategies is highly personal. I wanted to provide examples of what you can do to manage your time; therefore, I asked the content creators here at Fitness Blender to share their own perspectives on time management in order to give some ideas of what you can do. So, here are some of their strategies and tips!
Strategies and personal philosophies
The content creators have short, one-liner strategies and philosophies that help them in their time management journeys. While these may or may not work for you, it seems that it is helpful to have a general or broad goal for your time management that will allow you to be intentional about what is important.
- (Nicole) “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin
- (Tasha) Be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods.
- (Kayla) “No” is a complete sentence.
- (Marina) Take things day by day. Set loose structure by prioritizing 1-3 items per day as a single point of focus.
- (Marina) Know the time of day you work best on what tasks.
- (Marina) Schedule time in between tasks to not overwhelm.
Tools and systems
Most (though not all) FB content creators use multiple systems or tools at one time. They seem to have worked through trial and error to try out different tools or systems for different purposes until they eventually found what worked best for them. Generally, they tend to use different methods for monthly, weekly, and daily tasks to help them keep track of both short- and long-term tasks and goals. Here are some of the tools they report using with descriptions of the lesser known systems.
- Google Calendar (Tasha, Marina, Nicole)
- Notes application on phone (Marina)
- Word documents/spreadsheets (Tasha)
- Notebooks/paper planners (Tasha, Amanda)
- Sticky notes (Nicole)
- Set reminders in phone (Nicole)
- “Focus” app on iPhone: This is an iPhone feature that helps you concentrate by minimizing other distractions. When you need to focus, the phone will temporarily silence all notifications (or only allow certain notifications) and let other people and apps know you are busy. There are other similar systems available for Android and desktops (Kayla).
- Asana Task Management System: A time management platform that helps you manage projects for individual or team use. You can easily organize, prioritize, collaborate, and track progress all in one location (Nicole).
- Time blocking: Divide your day into blocks of time to accomplish a specific task or work on a larger project with multiple smaller tasks (Tasha).
- Brain dump: Using some sort of system (pen and paper, word document, bulleted list, etc.) to empty all the contents of your mind into one single space. This helps you to declutter your mind and gain clarity on what is important to you at a single point in time (Marina).
- Pomodoro technique: Time management system that breaks your workday into 25 minute working chunks separated by 5 minute breaks. Each of these intervals is considered one pomodoro. After four consecutive pomodoros, you will take a longer break. This helps you to prioritize and work on a single task at a time and also ensure you get rest and cognitive breaks throughout your day (Kayla).
- Separate desktops for different purposes: On a mac, you can set up different desktops and/or different profiles for different purposes (work, personal tasks and work, leisure, etc.). This ensures you can focus on one purpose/role at a time and get only notifications and software that pertain to that role (Kayla).
As discussed in part one, an important part of time management is prioritizing what is most/least important for all your personal goals. What does this look like? Here are some strategies used by our content creators:
- (Tasha) Categorized, monthly master to-do list that is prioritized within each category. Visit on a weekly basis to select foci for the week. Review this weekly list to select daily tasks. Revise as needed.
- (Kayla) Prioritize tasks with deadlines (school, work, research, etc.) over things with floating deadlines.
- (Nicole) Prioritize things that “move the needle” over busywork. Ask yourself “are these things actually important?” and focus on the most important things first. Schedule reminders for the others.
- (Marina) Prioritizing is hard because everything I have going on in my life is something I want to do. There are no "should's" or "have to's" in my life. If tasks have a time constraint, I prioritize those in terms of what is coming up first. If the task is physical, I tend to schedule those in the morning because that's when I know I have the most energy; if it's something that I have resistance toward, I will schedule that first and the things I feel more excited about or have less resistance to I will schedule for later.
- (Amanda) Schedule everything in your day (working out, walking the dog, showering, making food, driving places, etc.) so you make sure to leave time for the things that are important to you.
How to protect your time
Like all of us, the FB content creators have situations in which procrastination and other time demands can overwhelm important tasks. Therefore, here are some of their tips for how they protect their time for their most important tasks.
- (Kayla) Non-negotiable and protected family time.
- (Kayla) Daily protected work hours.
- (Kayla) “Unplug” a few days per month where there is a boundary for no email, work, or work prep.
- (Marina) Adapt, embrace, and cultivate a loving relationship with resistance. Understand where the resistance comes from, whether it is from fear of failure or a task no longer serving your needs. Learn to embrace it for what it is and work with it rather than against it.
- (Marina) Set boundaries with yourself; you’re not a robot. Scheduling time for yourself is productivity because it fuels you to be able to do other things in your life.
- (Nicole) Plan ahead. Knowing the game plan ahead of time helps things to run smoothly and allows you to get everything done.
- (Tasha) When time-blocking, allow room to accommodate unexpected tasks or time for procrastination.
- (Tasha) Intentionally alternate work and personal tasks to avoid burnout.
Adapting to changes
All of this being said, things pop up. It is inevitable that we will have other tasks that emerge at the last minute that are more important or life events that prevent us from being able to complete important tasks. Therefore, here are some strategies for how to adapt to these changes.
- (Tasha) Quickly reprioritize to accommodate and still finish other things.
- (Tasha) If there is a major change, allow 5 minutes for a “freak out” and then tackle the new agenda like a puzzle. Figure out where it fits in and problem-solve to get it all done.
- (Kayla) Prioritize protected time.
- (Kayla) Reduce time spent on “soft” tasks like email or prep work.
- (Marina) Remember that there is very little that you are in control of. However, you do have control over how you react or respond to the situation. That doesn’t mean you aren’t frustrated or disappointed, but rely on your intuition to know what to do next. Allow this process to be messy and learn from any outcome (even if you choose the “wrong” thing).
I also asked for general time management tips, particularly those related to health and fitness goals. I thought their own words would speak better than I could possibly summarize. So, here they are with some editing for consistency and length!
- (Tasha) I used to love striking through completed tasks on my to-do lists! Now I just delete them. I’ve trained myself to end the day feeling accomplished regardless of how many tasks I’ve completed that day, a decision I made a few years ago that freed me from tying my highly achievement-driven personality to my self-worth/confidence … This minor change helped me become even more flexible in my approach to getting things done and now I’m proud of the quality of what I finish in a day versus connecting my idea of success with the quantity of what I complete in a day.
- (Tasha) Fitness/wellness is my life but fitness/wellness is not my world! You can have fitness goals and still fully enjoy all the other amazing aspects of life.
- (Kayla) Do not underestimate the value of sleep quality in recovery, productivity, and wellness.
- (Marina) Find movement that brings you joy and makes your body feel good. There is no single right way to take care of your body.
- (Marina) Goals are great, but be patient and loving to your body; try not to beat yourself up if you don't reach your fitness goal "on time."
- (Marina) Be consistent and fully present in your journey. Learn when your body needs rest. Learn when your body is asking to be pushed. Rest and resistance are BOTH required for growth physically (and mentally/emotionally).
- (Marina) Persistence and tenacity. Learn when things are working and when time and effort are needed to reach your goal. Learn when things need to be adjusted/adapted and make those changes. This balance will look different for everyone in every goal. Embrace the process and use your goal as a single point of focus rather than focusing on an outcome you're attached to. This will allow you to stay committed and present in your process.
- (Nicole) Plan ahead for the things you want to do, including workouts. Put it in your calendar or planner and show up as if you were showing up to a personal training session and someone is waiting for you. Make sure the people in your life know that this time is important to you.
- (Nicole) Prioritize your tasks. Sometimes doing the dishes may feel more urgent, making it easier to push your workout to the back burner. But they are typically less important and can be done at another time.
I hope that these tips from our content creators are helpful for you to develop or refine your own time management system. However, the love doesn’t have to stop here — be sure to share some of what you do in the comments below. I know that I, for one, am always looking for new strategies that will help me achieve balance in my life!
I want to give a huge shoutout to Amanda, Kayla, Marina, Nicole, and Tasha for all their support in contributing their time management tips and systems to this article!