There are many things that the 21st century makes a lot easier for us. Not everything, though… Despite the fact that the standard of living is constantly improving, some challenges just seem like they get more and more difficult all the time.

For example, even though there are hundreds of things, we can enjoy doing, hundreds of opportunities to take advantage of, and hundreds of tech gadgets that are supposed to help us, the lifestyle often backfires and makes getting things done much harder, especially if we want to do it effectively.

In essence, remaining productive in our day-to-day living has in many ways never been more difficult. However, it’s not something we have to just accept. No matter how busy we think we are, we can still enjoy a cool lifestyle without losing any of our productivity.

For me, and probably for many of you as well, being able to accommodate work-life balance (including things like dieting, relaxation, and working out each) is a serious challenge. It’s not impossible, though…

First, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to do everything, every single day, but in any given week, there will be at least one day when you will have to find a way to handle your work, take care of your diet, relax, and finally do your workout, all in just 24 hours…

How can you make that happen? Try the following approach.

Think in advance

The best possible starting point is to spend 10 minutes in the evening planning your next day. You can use a tool like Google Calendar to schedule your workouts and other activities, to make sure that you don’t overlook anything important.

You need to know how much time you have in a given day and how much of it you’re going to need to complete every activity. Once you have an understanding of what you need to do, you can focus on preparation. This means things like setting the alarm clock, planning what you’re going to do first, and so on.

When doing so, consider the following points.

Warm up immediately after getting up

There are many ways to wake up in the morning. The most popular one is to drink half a gallon of coffee and leave the house immediately afterwards. How about doing a simple warm-up instead.

Start your day by doing some jumping jacks, pushups, body weight squats, arm and leg swings. Doing this for 10-15 minutes will have better effect than coffee. The other, probably even more obvious benefit is that it allows your stiff body to work out its aches and pains.

Eat a good breakfast

This is where your diet comes into play. Depending on the guidelines you’re following, there are many variations of a good breakfast. Just don’t go to the extreme with your diet… What is really important is to choose a diet that you’re actually going to be able to stick with.

A word about dieting… The word diet doesn’t always have great connotations. Many people think that a diet is something designed to make you lighter, when in fact it can have many other goals. Generally speaking, a diet is simply a well thought out approach for eating what’s good for you.

Bring snacks with you

Snacking is the main problem for most dieters. We know eating chocolate every two hours is not a healthy habit… but many of us do it anyway. Throughout the day, you’ll find yourself craving different foods. The best way of dealing with this is to have a healthy snack on hand at all times, instead of eating less healthy foods.

Most of the time it’s just your brain telling you that it needs to consume something, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be chocolate. Now, if you’re working from home, it’s easier, but if you have a standard out of the home job then make sure to take some snacks with you to fight temptations at work.

Usually, no matter what kind of diet you’re on, things that can be considered healthy snacks are carrots, nuts, vegetables, and low-sugar fruit. (Consult your dietician on this.)

Work in intervals

Time to work now. For me, the most effective approach at working is to focus on utilizing the following intervals (and it’s not the first time I’m sharing this, by the way):

  • Work for 50 minutes.
  • Have a 10-minute break.
  • Work for another 50 minutes.
  • Have a 30-minute break.
  • Repeat.

Why is this effective? Because our brain is not able of maintaining concentration for more than 1-2 hours at a time. By providing frequent breaks, we’re actually improving our productivity greatly. (Tested on myself.)

Workout before lunch

There are many reasons why working out before lunch is the right thing to do.

First, there are a lot fewer people at the gym.

Secondly, you get additional stimulation to focus on the rest of your day (similar effect to the afternoon coffee).

Finally, after the workout you can have a protein-rich snack or lunch which will improve your weight loss / muscle gain results (hint: protein is good for both).

Another thing great about this is that your workouts don’t have to be long. Working out for 30 minutes before lunch, 3 times a week is still a lot better than working out for 1.5 hour, once a week in the evening. Remember what I said about sticking with your plan, and not trying to be too ambitious.

You can also use additional equipment while you’re at your desk to help you lose some extra pounds. Things like the – celebrity endorsed – Flex Belt (learn more about this), for example.

Relax by doing something entirely different

Some people like to relax by going for a jog in the evening… For me, this is not a good approach. First, you’re exhausted after your workday and all you’ll be thinking about is your bed or the TV set. Secondly, as I said before, any physical activity wakes up your body (like a coffee does), and I don’t see the point of waking up in the evening, just an hour or two before you’re supposed to go to sleep…

For most people, relaxation is only effective when it revolves around doing something entirely different from what you’ve been doing throughout the day. For instance, one of the best relaxation activities is spending some quality time with your friends, kids, spouse, Xbox 360, or simply playing with your dog.

It’s good because it’s different. Believe me, if you were to play with your dog all day it wouldn’t be relaxing anymore. The same thing is true of physical exercise or intellectual activities. For instance, if your job involves a lot of thinking then it will be very hard for you to relax in the evening by reading an intellectual book. Always, I repeat, ALWAYS do something completely different.

Prepare your food in advance

This is the final dieting advice here. Some diets are hard to follow if you don’t prepare your own food. Most of the time you won’t find quality foods in the cafeteria at the office (unless you work at Google). That’s why you should prepare your food in advance, and then simply take it with you.

The best time to do this is either in the morning (as yet another way of waking up), or in the evening (as yet another way of relaxing).

However, if you don’t like preparing your own meals, or taking care of picking the right foods, you can take advantage of many diet food delivery services (link), such as Diet to Go, eDiets, Nutrisystem, BistroMD.

Now that you have an understanding of all the elements of an effective day, round them up and prepare yourself for tomorrow. However, most importantly of all, tweak every piece of advice you get until it fits your unique lifestyle. Find a solution that you can stick with permanently.

What’s your take on this? Do you have your own way to take care of all the things listed above in just one day?

Featured photo credit:  Happy couple planning to furniture via Shutterstock

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