• Natalie Smith

Time Management: How to Structure Your Routine with Intention

Updated: Jul 12

As people age, the concept of time management becomes such an important and commonly discussed topic. It is undeniable that there are only 24 hours in a day even though for most busy men and women this does not seem like enough time. The four main priorities that every person struggles to balance are relationships, work, health, and rest. Too much focus on one priority can cause a harmful lack of focus in another. The solution balancing your life may never be simple, however, there are a few key points to help you manage your time and routine more effectively.

Set Realistic Expectations

The first key point in tackling your routine is to set realistic expectations for yourself. Before you commit to running five miles a day and cooking only healthy meals, take a moment to think of small ways that you could improve. Wake up 15 minutes earlier to do some stretching or read a book to activate your mind. Bring gym clothes with you to work so you can exercise before you settle down at home. If you make small adjustments and find that you are really enjoying them, then continue to improve upon them over time. For example, instead of waking up 15 minutes early, you could wake up 30 minutes so you could cook yourself breakfast.

Foster Intentional Time Management

The next key point in time management is to be intentional when you think about how you are spending your time. If you assume that you will be able to maintain all four of the main priorities of life without giving it some thought, you may be surprised how quickly you drop the ball. Try to set aside an appropriate amount of time for each of them, otherwise, your mind will focus too much on one. Work can take up a great deal of time, however, relationships, health, and rest are equally as important. If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night you won’t be able to function at a high level. Lack of nutrition and proper exercise can cause health issues and interfere with productivity over time. Spending time with loved ones helps us to stay grounded and gives purpose to our lives. Think about what an appropriate amount of time spent in each category is and then commit to doing it each day.

Routine, Routine, Routine

Successful people do not always have a routine, but in my experience highly successful people always do. Your body and mind crave consistency and structure even if you might not think so. In the past, I have personally struggled to convince myself that a routine wasn't necessary because it seemed like work. Ever since I realized that I can incorporate activities that I love into my day I have truly come to appreciate it. Instead of rolling out of bed and heading straight to work, I take some time in the morning to do some reading or get some exercise and it helps me to feel excited about starting another day. If you find yourself breaking your routine don’t worry! Be flexible and just try to stick to it as much as possible.

Get Creative with Your Goals

Many people talk about the power of positive thinking. The reason why positive thinking is so important is that how you think will define what choices you make. The choices that you make will define what you do and ultimately who you become. Setting goals is just one way we can manifest our thoughts into reality, and it works. If you cannot imagine your goals then you will most likely not accomplish them. Whether you keep them in your head or write them down, determine goals for yourself in each of the four priority areas. Dig deep to discover what is truly important to you and what is worth fighting for. Life will always be a battle, but setting goals will help you get past the hard days when nothing seems to be going right. As you grow you also change so don’t be afraid to change up your goals or set new ones when you accomplish them. Be as creative as you can be and think as big or small as you want: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Right Now Rule

A friend of mine once shared with me the concept of the "Right Now Rule." When trying to manage your time, procrastinating is such an important mindset to overcome and this rule can help. It is easy to say that you will make that phone call later or go exercise in an hour, but putting something off for later can cause unnecessary stress. Instead of saying you can do something later, tell yourself you can do it right now. There is an old popular saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today," meaning don’t wait if you have the time now! You will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish if you adopt this rule.

Setting Up Your Own Routine

Managing the time that you have effectively will always be a challenge. For millennials who have grown up and are “adulting” now, they have been very vocal about the challenges that they have faced trying to maintain a work-life balance. It is so important to enjoy your life and one of the ways you can do that is by not taking it too seriously, but making a few healthy lifestyle changes can really go along way and make you feel good about yourself.

Challenge yourself with your routine and set creative goals that excite you. Be flexible in your routine to make changes, but rigid enough to give your mind and body the consistency that it needs.