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How to Manage Time for a Truly Balanced Life

How to Manage Time for a Truly Balanced Life

Health and meaningful relationships add years and quality to our lives. Few people contest this fact.  Does it then follow that more people are focusing on these areas of their lives?  Do you regularly exercise and go for holidays or fun meals with your spouse/partner and family?  If the answer is no, why not?  Expense could be an issue.  If your reason is  “I can’t find the time,”  you’re not alone.  You keep track of your expenses and know how much your bank balance is, but do you also know exactly where your time goes?  Here are simple tools to manage time and become conscious of how you spend it.

1. Pause and review your past week.

You attend to many things at work and after work.  How do you decide on which tasks to prioritize?  Usually, you first do those that need to be finished sooner or whose deadlines are looming.  This generally works, but over the long term it could turn into crisis management rather than a way to manage time.  Cheryl Richardson in her book Take Time for Your Life challenges us to check where our time goes. Determined to get an accurate indicator for the exercise, I came up with these forms that assign colors per Life Area to make it visually easier to track time.

First, look over a typical week.  On the Time Tracking Daily Form, block the hours spent per day according to color of the Life Area they fall under.

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    Next, total those hours by Life Areas on the Time Tracking Weekly Totals Form. An optional step is to convert those weekly totals to a pie chart for a more dramatic visual.

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      So just where does your time go?  Aside from sleeping and eating, which area of your life do you spend the most time on? Which life area gets the smallest portion?  I had expected work to eat up a big chunk of my time, but was surprised at how little I spent on Spiritual well-being and on Fun and Adventure.

      2. Make a plan to manage time; decide which life areas need attention.

      These forms are not absolute and have room for improvement.  Exercise, for example, is grouped with sleeping under Physical and Emotional Health. Although this area gets the largest share of your time, it does not necessarily mean you are spending that time on exercise.  Watching TV falls under Fun and Adventure, but it’s a poor substitute for traveling or participating in a hobby. Reading falls under Physical and Emotional Health when it could actually be considered a hobby.  You can tweak the activities that go under each life area or even change the colors altogether.  What’s important is you’re aware of the other areas of your life you may be neglecting and can then decide to manage time so these get more attention.

      The Simple Abundance Companion author, Sarah Ban Breathnach remembers the shock she had felt while looking at her calendar and realizing, in her own words, that “there was no space in the day, week, or month for me to take care of my needs.” She talks about how our inability to say no to family, friends, colleagues, and volunteer work can quickly fill up our calendars, leaving no time for ourselves. Taking action, she set aside two hours a week on her calendar just for her.  She didn’t label it, but blocked the time with a bright yellow marker. This visual prompt made it easy for her to say no to any activity that was in conflict with her “just my own” time.  Her color-blocking tip inspired me to use colors on my weekly and daily schedules.

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      3. Prepare your weekly to-do list and daily schedule to prioritize those life areas you want to focus on.

      Planning what you want to accomplish on a weekly basis works well.  List the tasks by Life Area on the Weekly To-Do List.

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        These tasks can then be carried over to your Daily Schedule.  At the end of each day and week, review what you have accomplished.  The colors will clearly show which life areas you spent most of your day and the week on. You can then decide to focus on the other areas in the coming days and weeks.

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          Often, there will be demands on your time beyond your control. These effective, colorful tools will equip you with some leeway for deciding how you spend your time.  Consider it like a bank or expense account that shows you where your money goes.  Unlike money, time is a finite resource.  Once spent, it can never be recovered. When you consciously manage time, you can balance not just your finances, but more importantly, your life.

          Featured photo credit: Hour Glass, flickr, Nicole Gaunt via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on March 25, 2020

          How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

          How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

          When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

          So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

          1. Exercise

          It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

          2. Drink in Moderation

          I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

          3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

          Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

          4. Watch Less Television

          A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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          Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

          5. Eat Less Red Meat

          Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

          If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

          6. Don’t Smoke

          This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

          7. Socialize

          Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

          8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

          Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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          9. Be Optimistic

          Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

          10. Own a Pet

          Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

          11. Drink Coffee

          Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

          12. Eat Less

          Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

          13. Meditate

          Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

          Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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          How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

          14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

          Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

          15. Laugh Often

          Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

          16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

          Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

          17. Cook Your Own Food

          When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

          Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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          18. Eat Mushrooms

          Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

          19. Floss

          Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

          20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

          Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

          Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

          21. Have Sex

          Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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          Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

          Reference

          [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
          [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
          [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
          [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
          [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
          [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
          [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
          [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
          [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
          [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
          [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
          [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
          [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
          [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
          [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
          [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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