So, identify one or two activities that instantly recharge you—whether it’s dancing or meditation—and build them in to your evening or weekend routine. Yes, even if you think you don’t have time. Taking even a few hours a week for yourself has the remarkable effect of stretching time, by boosting your energy, fueling your creativity and perspective, and increasing your patience.
3. Capture All Your To-Dos in One Place
A 2008 Virginia Tech study on personal calendar use found that the majority of participants kept separate business and personal calendars, and only a handful used their calendar for to-do items. But keeping your information in multiple locations (plus your memory) is a recipe for distraction, confusion, and worry about what you might be forgetting.
Instead, commit to a single, consistent planning system for 100% of your calls, tasks, and meetings, both personal and professional. Choose paper or digital, and go whole hog. Integrate your to-do list directly into your calendar (rather than keeping tasks in a separate list or system). This gives you a complete picture of everything on your plate and allows you to prioritize your tasks in context. When you’re confident that there’s nothing you are forgetting or neglecting, your mind is free to focus and to fully engage in each moment.
Reclaiming your capacity to focus is the most important first step you can take this year, a behavior change that will position you to tackle every other challenge with confidence, clarity, and precision. Try dedicating the next two weeks to improving your focus—and see how quickly (and almost magically) you will feel in control.
Julie Morgenstern, dubbed the “queen of putting people’s lives in order” by USA Today, is a professional organizer and productivity expert, and bestselling author of five books, including Time Management from the Inside Out. This January marks the launch her new Circa Balanced Life Planner, a paper based system for the digital age, designed to help you make good decisions about where to spend your time. Available through Levenger.com.