5 Tips for Managing a Busy Life

pocket watch

Finding time for a side hustle while maintaining a full-time career can be a huge challenge. Throw in an active family and a few extracurricular activities and life can become a crazy run from morning until hitting the pillow at night. Self-care and free time can quickly become extinct and it can suddenly feel as though every moment of the day is scheduled and accounted for.

This type of lifestyle can feel super organized in the beginning, but because it doesn’t allow any time cushion, even small hiccups can suddenly cause panic. (Not to mention how easily one can become frazzled by the constant movement and the lack of self-care or reflection.) Here are some ideas for how not to overschedule.

  1. When you are doing a new task (i.e. something you’ve never done before), estimate your time…then triple it. Starting a new project will always take extra time, but when you are learning a new skill along the way, such as mastering WordPress or photo editing, even small items can take loads of time to comprehend. Allow yourself enough time so that you can actually learn and fully understand the task at hand; this will save you time in future endeavors of the same type.
  2. When you are doing a task you’ve done before, estimate the time needed, then add some more (especially for creative tasks). Sometimes you just want to get whatever it is done, scheduling appointments, tagging posts, or organizing business files. Other times though, especially in regards to any type of artistic aspirations, you may find yourself wanting to give more to a project. While letting yourself get so lost in your creativity that you expend hours you don’t really have would not be desirable, giving yourself an extra hour or so can lead to a more exceptional product.
  3. Build downtime into your daily schedule. Burning the candle at both metaphorical ends while trying to maintain your sanity are usually incongruous concepts. This may seem obvious, but I think many of us are programmed to pick up our phones and “try to get something done” during any pause in the day. Give yourself a break and some real downtime everyday. Schedule 30 minutes of reading, a long bath, a coffee with a friend, anything that gets you completely away from any type of work. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and able to enjoy your blogging/YouTube/affiliate marketing/etcetera project much more, and you’ll likely be extra productive as well.
  4. Give yourself a cushion. Not for your couch, but for your mind. It’s an unfortunate fact that sometimes things will go wrong. Deadlines will be missed for all kinds of reasons, business related, family related, and the like. It’s important to not attempt to schedule every hour of your hourly planner in case something does happen; make sure there are pockets of time (albeit small) between activities that are just a bit longer than travel time. This will give you moments to stop on the way for ibuprofen, get a snack, or call your child’s pediatrician when you need to, without causing your daily schedule to unravel. Being efficient is great, and so is acknowledging the more unfortunate realities of life.
  5. Have morning and evening routines. It’s been stated over and over how important routine can be in regards to both success and overall health. Having a daily routine for morning and evening self-care, tidying, and/or business related tasks can save so much time. Possessing the ability to perform a necessary chore automatically, rather than having to plan or prepare for it, can also help reserve your mental energies for decision-making during your work day.wristwatch

It’s true that adding downtime and time cushions into one’s schedule may result in a  decrease in the amount of time one is able to spend on their side project within a day(although, hopefully, initiating routines will save some minutes or hours). However, most side hustles take awhile to become successful businesses…sometimes months, but in most cases years. This means that you could be working at both your regular career and your side hustle for a long stint before you actually see any return on your time investment. Allowing yourself to get frazzled early on and give up will not ultimately serve your goal. Perhaps it’s slower, but maintaining your health and sanity during your start-up years means that you can keep plugging away at it for the long haul, avoid burnout, and therefore be able to reap the benefits later.

What are your time-saving tips?

Stay cozy!

The New American Dream, Part 3: Money

dollar

“It’s not how much money you make, it’s how you spend it.”

My father has said this so many times that I associate the phrase entirely with him…even if it’s been said by countless other folks.

Perhaps because I heard it so many times, or just because I was young, I never really contemplated what it meant. Fast forward a couple of decades and the implication hits home as I compare my incoming and outgoing expense reports. I suppose it is somewhat natural for most of us to either live at, or slightly above, our means (a budget will generally swell to fill the revenue it’s granted). Yet, it can be so disheartening to see most, if not all, of your hard-earned cash disappear at the end of the month without a trace.

I suspect that’s why people across the United States, young and old, are attempting to live leaner, more functional and fiscally conscientious lives, as discussed in the initial post in this series. In the new American dream, currency is becoming a means to more time, rather than more possessions.

The Money We Make

The manner in which Americans, and millennials particularly, are earning currency seems to be changing. While many continue to procure employment by large companies, more and more folks are cobbling together incomes from various smaller jobs (often referred to as “gigs”), either because there is a lack of employment in their geographical or professional field, or because it fits their schedule or lifestyle better. As company dynamics and economics evolve, sometimes corporate needs call for a more flexible worker who can come and go as needed, or work remotely online.

One interesting aspect in this changing game of cash flow juggling is the phenomenon of “scaling income.” This means that income is generated from a product (usually electronic) or marketing campaign that can be “scaled,” i.e. increased in size or reach so as to escalate revenues (as opposed to the time-for-money exchange that most of us are used to).

Increasing numbers of savvy people appear to be trying their hand at strategies such as affiliate marketing or designing products, while many others are earning profits from training programs, courses, and e-books designed to train people to become successful marketers. Although it’s generally accepted that only a small percentage of affiliate marketing startups actually see success, thousands of people attempt it every year. (I, myself, know very little about affiliate marketing, but  I like to follow Malan Darras’s You Tube channel just for his unique perspective on the subject.)

Of course, maintaining one’s income with “gig’s” or online arrangements typically means that an individual is essentially a small business owner. Therefore, more people are having to become intimately involved with issues such as taxation, insurance, and retirement savings (items typically handled by an employer in days of yore). It will be interesting to observe how this influx of small businesses changes the markets, as well as government policy.

The Money We Spend

Our shopping habits are evolving in this new economy as well. This adjustment is definitely influenced most by millennial spending mannerisms, but it is a pattern that can be seen in all generations. As described in this Forbes article, discretionary spending is slowing down just a bit in the United States, most notably by millennials (though, this may change as millennials buy houses and start families, also mentioned in the article). Folks all over the country seem to be experiencing a need or want to downsize homes and possessions, either for aesthetic or economic reasons, and no doubt influenced by the latest minimalism and decluttering trends. This also means that people are making a concerted attempt to bring no more (or very little) clutter into the home.

Other characteristics of millennial spending are guiding the market, as well as influencing other generations. These inclinations include using social media as a shopping guide and using mobile devices as the primary way to locate, research, and purchase products, as outlined in this Entrepreneur article. Retailers are having to adapt to this new, “hands off” approach to marketing and distributing products by sustaining brand social media accounts and creating beautiful and functional websites. Millennials, particularly, are also very concerned about cost, as the Entrepreneur article eludes to as well. With increased competition in regards to price, both online and physical retailers are having to cut overhead and operate on leaner budgets in order to compete, while also maintaining online operations.

calculator

In summary, the new way to make money is on one’s own schedule, and, with any luck, by one’s own rules.  Work can be done anywhere and performed at almost anytime. Our spending is becoming less dictated by what we desire, and more so by what we require. 

*To read more about my take one the new American dream, you may see part 2 here, and the initial article here.

Thanks for stopping by, and stay cozy!

The New American Dream, Part 2: Status Symbol

pocket watch, sands of time

Many of us are products of the 80’s and 90’s and can recall some of the items that were popular back then. Certain shoes, cars, and electronic gadgets were considered a sign of wealth and social status (or good credit) at that time. Owning things brought prestige and envy, especially amongst peers and colleagues. The phrase “he who dies with the most toys, wins” was coined.

Fast forward twenty-five years, through 3 recessions, a housing bubble, the healthcare crisis, and crippling student debt. In each case, we have learned something about handling money (or how not to handle it). We have also been awakened to the fact that the economy in most countries, but perhaps particularly the United States, is a living, breathing thing. It is a beast that can both make and ruin people, financially and otherwise, as it waxes and wanes.

For most of us though, through all of the perambulations of the market, there has been the constant of employment. A vocation to pull us out of our student loan obligations and afford accommodations whether they be our own, or rented from someone else. Work, a perceived cornerstone of our nation, and something that we are all taught to pursue passionately. After all, where would all our “things” come from without some form of paid occupation?

flea market stuff

Not to mention that those “things” come with costs aside from their purchase price. It can be alarming to consider that everything you own, you are still paying for (hence, the idea of being “owned” by the objects one has acquired). Ultimately, any “thing” that you possess requires some type of residence, whether that be your abode, a storage unit, or your parents’ house (although those costs may be more intrinsic), and this will usually be something that you have to pay for. These items have physical costs too, such as some form of maintenance, or, at the very least, the time and effort it would require to rid yourself of them.

So, we toil for someone else in order to acquire possessions, we continue to work in order to pay for the said items’ housing and maintenance, and oftentimes must physically use or care for an item to keep it operational. While we usually look at this equation in terms of monetary cost, it could be argued that the largest and most valuable expenditure here is not of dollars, but of time.

wristwatch

Although it’s true that we all get at least some time, it is lamentable that we don’t always get to spend it the way in which we desire. Those fortunate enough to have surplus wealth, however, get the side benefit of utilizing their hours as they choose, rather than for another’s cause.

Accordingly, having “free” time has become a sign of wealth and means. This could be true either because the owner actually has a healthy income, or simply because they are adept at budgeting, and choose time over objects. In any case, the freedom that an individual has due to their possession of spare moments is becoming associated with greater social status, rather than ineptness, as had been the stigma in decades past.

clock tower

Now that seemingly everyone is operating on someone else’s schedule, those that are allowed to function according to their own agenda are seen as the new elite, having escaped the so-called “rat race.” The value of currency is becoming more associated with its ability to grant chronological freedom than the accumulation of commodities. Time, and the freedom to dictate it, are becoming the new signs of prestige, in a nation that has brandished its 40 hour work week as an ideal for so long.

*This article is the second of the New American Dream series.

Stay cozy!

The Beauty of Early Mornings

I have never “naturally” been a morning person. I say “naturally” because even so, there have been many periods in my life where I have been in a particular occupational appointment (i.e. job) that has required me to be up and out of the door early in the morning. Many times, I have struggled with those mornings, slugging down various caffeinated beverages and skipping breakfast in order to hasten my arrival.

I hate mornings like that, rushed and disorganized, accompanied by that feeling that I’m forgetting something (probably something important). I’m typically starved and jittery by the time I arrive at my workplace, and feel as though I’m being thrown into my morning without my own consent. It took a long time for me to break this habit.

It didn’t happen until a few years after I had my son that I had my epiphany. I think most parents will probably understand the idea of getting up early (before your child) so that you have time to perform self-care and get prepared for the day. I applied this concept when my son was very young (and still sometimes today) and began to understand the benefits of collecting my thoughts, having my coffee, and getting dressed and ready before my son awoke. It took a little time for me to realize that I could employ this strategy before work as well.

 

morning coffee

That first cup of coffee, the best one of the day!

 

Step 1: Get Up Earlier

It’s probably not great for your body or your mind to try to claim a new hour in the morning all at once. When I have to adjust my schedule, I usually try to do so in 15 minute increments and wait a few days or week before adding another 15 minutes.

Step 2: Plan Your Approach

With technology EVERYWHERE it’s so easy to get distracted. I find it’s especially easy for me to get distracted in the morning before I’ve had my coffee; my phone calls to me with various (time-wasting) apps that could lull me into a techno-coma until, at last, I would lose all the time I had planned to gain and be back to my rushed, jittery, disorganized morning.

Plan what you will do with each new 15 minute increment, this will save you wasted time later.

Step 3: Make Sure You Have Covered the Basics

What I mean by this is plan for the things that are basic self-care items first. These include things like showering, breakfast, brushing your teeth, etc. Guesstimate how much time you need for each task and make sure that time is allotted for in your morning schedule.

Step 4: Include Something Fun

I find that nothing helps motivate me to plan my mornings and get up earlier than having something enjoyable to look forward to (aside from that first cup of coffee). For me lately, it has been getting a chance to write in the morning. I enjoy it so much that I often go to bed pondering what I will write about in the morning. After I write and get ready for my day in the morning, I feel as though I have already accomplished something and got some enjoyment out of my day.

Having something enjoyable to start your day will not only give you motivation to get out of bed in the morning, but it can also lead to better day for yourself overall. The options can include writing, reading, exercising, art, etcetera, but pick something you love.

Step 5: Add 15 More Minutes

It seems to me that sometimes, time just evaporates into thin air. Whether it’s the transition from one morning activity to the next or I just missed watching the clock, occasionally, time still gets away from me. Adding an extra 15 minutes to my morning means that I  get to approach my day in a calm, relaxed manner, and accounts for any inefficiencies in my morning schedule.

 

These tips have definitely helped my mornings become calmer and more organized. This in turn, has helped my days become less stressful and more enjoyable.

Hope this was helpful! Stay cozy.