Life is busy. It seems to be a reality that applies almost irrespective of age, gender, lifestyle, occupation or life-stage. There are competing activities and priorities for nearly every minute of every day. Shops are open, for the most part, 7 days a week. Internet shopping is available 24/7. The internet, email, mobile phones and text messages, not to mention social media means that there is an underlying perceived expectation to be available for anyone at anytime. Rest is becoming a lost art form.
And my life seems to be no exception to the epidemic of busyness! Since I can remember, my parents have been telling me to ‘slow down’ as I would go at a thousand miles an hour and then collapse. I still go pretty fast, but have discovered a rhythm and way to life where I can live life pretty fast and hard, but sustainably.
Life is busy. I am a mother to four kids aged between 9 and 2. I am wife to David, for over 10years now! I am daughter, sister, aunty, friend. I am involved in a few different community organisations. I am an author and public speaker. I am a full time Executive Assistant for the Managing Director of a rapidly growing social enterprise in Melbourne. I am also a runner.
It is not unusual for me to be asked, ‘how do you manage to do it all’? I often quip that good concealer and coffee come in really handy! And whilst there is truth to that statement, there is greater truth in having some practices and principles in place that help facilitate the way I live and ensure that I don’t lose my mind! Your disciplines and mechanisms will be different to mine, as we’re different people, but here are my 5 top tips to living a full life and not collapsing as we go!
1. Be Organised
Organisation is one of my favourite things. Organisation to me may be completely different to organisation for you. I can say that confidently, as my mum’s version of ‘organised’ is vastly different to mine, but it works for her! Neither are right or wrong, however there are some overarching principles of organisation that I believe will be helpful:
- Plan – for me, this is planning my time, our family schedule, our meals, and therefore a shopping list, and my training. I write our family schedule (including my training) on a whiteboard so that everyone is aware of who is meant to be doing what when (including chores). I write our meals down on a specifically designed pad/paper and include the recipe book and page number if it’s a new recipe or I’m not cooking. I write the shopping list and separate it into the various stores – a list for the major supermarket, the discount supermarket, the fruit & vege place, the butcher, the baker, and the bulk supermarket. To do lists are also very common in my home and on my work desk!!
- Prepare – once I have planned, I prepare. I pre-prepare my own snacks for the week on a Sunday night. I prepare generally 3 lunches (bulk salad) and take them to work on a Monday morning (some really good quality plastic ware helps in this process!). The kids’ lunch boxes get made the night prior, and I often (not always) prepare my outfit and bags for the following day before I go to bed. These are things which make the morning rush, that little bit less rushed, and enable me to either get more sleep or spend more time with the kids. Preparation of meals is also not uncommon for me! I have been known to spend a full day cooking up a veritable storm, which means that we then have 3-4 weeks worth of food (meals, snacks, baking) in the freezer. Yes it takes time, but that next 3-4 weeks is bliss!!
- Place – I am a firm believer that everything needs to have a place. The rest of that statement, and everything IN it’s place… well that’s a work in progress as I continue to try and train my husband and children in the art of returning things to their home (aka tidying). However, when everything is in it’s place, a) the house feels clean and tidy and pleasant to be in, b) efficiency is increased in cooking, in playing, in dressing, in cleaning, as everyone knows where to find things they need. I may have a slight obsession with labeling (my pantry shelves might be labeled, as might my linen cupboard be)… but this means that whoever is here looking after the kids, knows where to find what they need quickly.
Place for me is also about each activity having a place in time – the scheduling. If most things are scheduled in, I tend to not worry that the cleaning didn’t get done today, because I know that I have two hours set aside tomorrow for cleaning. It also means that if something has to happen earlier than planned, I can shift my time around, knowing what still needs to be reallocated space and time, thereby not missing things, and also not feeling the stress of change. And this leads to my second point.
2. Be Flexible
As much as organisation is key, I am not a slave to my organisation. If plans change (which they often do with children), flexibility means that I am willing and able to adapt. When I first married David, organisation and planning/scheduling to him were more like chains and a carried a sense of inflexibility. However to me, organisation actually gives me the freedom to be flexible. As i mentioned with ‘place’, knowing what I can shift where, enables me to be flexible and accommodate changes. This includes my training as well. I have distance and pace goals, and it’s a very delicate balance between sticking to them and pushing through, and recognising that in life flexibility is key and sometime goals need to shift. Flexibility is a big key to how I manage in life!
3. Eat Well
I’m sure many of you have seen the ads that depict the behaviour associated with being ‘hangry’. I can certainly relate to the ‘hangry’, although not only do I get irritible, I become almost completly useless. I know that fueling my body for the day is crucial. For those of us who have had struggles with emotional eating, this can create great angst and pressure. However, it is so important that we find the balance that works for us, and recognise food for what it is – fuel. Our bodies need fuel physically and mentally. I need to eat well to be mentally alert in my work. I need to hydrate well for the same reason. I also need to fuel my body for the physical work I put it through in my training. I need to ensure it’s getting the vitamins, minerals and energy it requires on a daily basis. Educating myself on what fuel it needs, through reading, and some trial and error to see what works for me, is a vital part of this process. Here is where planning and preparation become critical. If I don’t plan and prepare, I’ll end up either not eating enough, or eating the wrong foods and running myself into the ground. A car without petrol will stop at some point, and it’s the same for our bodies!
4. Rest Well
As I indicated, rest is not something that I do well. I am generally on the go, and if I’m not doing, I’m thinking and processing. I’ve come to believe that resting is composed of two things: physically slowing down and allowing your body to recouperate – sleep would be a good one here! 8 hours as a minimum is great to aim for. I have been somewhat out of control of how much sleep I gain over the past 9 years with young kids, 3 out of 4 who don’t sleep particularly well! But I aim for 7-8 hours a night. The other component of rest, is doing something that ‘fills your tank’ so to speak. For me, one of the key ways I do this, which happens to combine physically resting with filling my tank, is reading novels. I love a good book. I could sit up and read and miss my 8 hours one night, but wake up more alive than if I’d got 8-10hours sleep. Why? Because I have recharged and resting my heart, mind and soul as well as my body. Discovering how you rest, how you slow down in such a busy world is so important.
5. Choose Happy
I was having lunch with a colleague and she questioned me on how I managed to keep motivated. I stopped and thought about many of the things that I draw motivation from: my kids, my desire to be fit and healthy, my slightly competitive nature… but none of these things are how I keep motivated. I choose to be motivated. I make a choice every day to wake up and do that which I set out to do. Part of it is about building self-trust, part of it is about just doing it and not letting excuses get in the way.
The way I do what I do is by planning, preparing, flexing, eating and resting well. The way I do what I do and stay happy – I choose to do that which is before me every day with a smile on my face and with a good attitude. Yes, some days that is really hard work. But it is always worthwhile.
Life is busy. But it doesn’t have to be chaotic. Where you have hopes, dreams and aspirations, you have the power and the capacity to achieve them. Sometimes it requires creativity, and it generally always takes planning and organisation. However, you are capable of so much – often more than you think you are. You can do it. Believe in yourself and know that you have what it takes.
By Hannah ‘She Runs’ Easton
She Science Ambassador. Not only an athlete, I am a wife, mother to four children aged 8 and under, author, of articles, my personal blog and of a book telling my journey through an eating disorder, a teacher, facilitator and public speaker… I am a busy woman! I love life. As an athlete, I am a runner favoring the 10 – 21km racing distances. My heart and focus in life is all about creating community. Communities that inspire others to be free: physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually. Free in who they are and free to pursue their dreams. To build lasting relationships that encourage, support and foster growth. Happy Full Living! Follow Hannah’s facebook, Instagram & Twitter.
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