We need a better relationship with our time (for life’s sake).

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Period.

As we all know, time is always moving, and life isn’t promised to us at every moment. So how can we make sure we’re living a life that feels fulfilling to us each day? And I mean one that’s genuinely fulfilling. A life where most days we feel satisfied with what we do, who we spend time with, and how we show up in the world. We have to take an honest look at how we’re spending our time. Thankfully, we can prioritize reflecting and planning out how we want to use our time, like prioritizing taking care of our health and managing our money. Let’s explore how we can create a better relationship with our time together.

I like to work with themes and templates throughout my week to help me keep track of my progress and reflect on what I’m putting my energy and resources into. If you’ve been following me this year, you know that Money Monday is a perfect example of that.

So yes, when it comes to keeping track of how I spend my time, I have a themed day for that. It’s called Time Management Tuesdays (or TMT for short)! Every Tuesday, I reflect on where most of my energy went during the past week, and I ask myself whether or not I feel satisfied with how I spent my time. I created a PDF with questions that I answer honestly and as thoroughly as possible. Here’s a peek at some of the questions I ask myself:

This week…

What did I get the most out of (activities, relationships, routines, etc.)?

What did not serve me (activities, relationships, time wasters, etc.)?

What did I do for fun?

What did I do for my health?

What did I do for my purpose (life mission)?

I like these questions because they are focused on how I spent MY time in a way that serves ME. It’s easy for us to fill up our time with obligations or responsibilities that benefit others. Maybe you’re someone who is always putting in overtime at work, or you’re a busy parent trying to take care of your family. It’s fine and good that we serve and take care of others. However, when we don’t consciously look at how we’re spending our time, we miss out on so much. We can easily fall into the trap of ignoring our desires, being on autopilot, and living a very unbalanced life. The goal is to have a balanced life. Balanced, not perfect. But we can only get to that point when we ask ourselves real questions like this consistently.

At the end of my reflection, I make it a point to adjust next week’s plans according to what I need more of. For example, perhaps last week, I didn’t do anything fun for myself or anything related to taking care of my health. Acknowledging that, I can address why that may be and plan for next week to go to a paint nite with friends and schedule workouts for each weekday.

We must reflect, plan, and act on changing our lives by changing how we spend our time. With that, I want to offer you some action steps you can take to simplify your day-to-day and create more time for the things and people you love. Here are some tips I always keep in mind when thinking about my time:

Know what your time-wasters are and work on reducing them

For me, I have an issue with YouTube (as I mentioned in this previous post). It’s my vice of choice – I can be on there forever. So what do I do when I notice I’m spending more hours on there than I should? I block myself from accessing it using the Content Restrictions setting on my phone and laptop. I’ve also used other blockers that make this easy too. What’s a time-waster for you? Scrolling on Instagram for hours? How can you spend less time there?

Embrace the beauty of mono-tasking

If you’re like me, you probably think you’re great at multitasking. And if you are like me, I’m gonna laugh at you. LOL. But that’s because I know firsthand that doing multiple things at once splits up your attention and energy. When you do that, you sacrifice the quality of work you put into something, and you might feel more drained by the time you’re done. So embrace the beauty of focusing on ONE THING AT A TIME. Sit down, set a 25-minute Pomodoro timer, and focus solely on writing that blog post (@ me). See how much you can get done and how much better you feel while mono-tasking.

Build helpful, automatic routines and habits

You know I love good and helpful automation. Creating routines and habits that work for you allow you to accomplish what you need and want to do in a way that doesn’t take too much brainpower, energy, or maneuvering. You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but you need a routine! You need habits! They save you time, add to your life, and make day-to-day living easier for you. Build these routines and rituals to simplify getting what you need or checking off your daily tasks. There’s a whole set of books and videos I could recommend that would help you with this but the biggest tip overall is to keep it simple and ~ if possible ~ enjoyable.

Prioritize fun, health, purpose, and connection

These are four priorities I have for making sure my life feels meaningful and enjoyable. After all, what’s life without some fun? How can we function without health? Isn’t life more meaningful with a purpose? And can we all agree that we just want to feel connection and love at the end of the day? I encourage you to really make time for all of these in your life to the best of your ability. Set up time to socialize, have adventures, workout, and show up in the world. You deserve to live a good life; a fulfilling life. We all do.

My intention with this post is to encourage all of us to look at our lives from the driver’s seat and to spend it on our terms as much as possible.

Wellness Wednesday: Give Yourself Time to Think

This Wellness Wednesday, I bring you a reflective piece about slowing down, giving ourselves uninterrupted time to think, and observing what comes up for us. There is power in bringing your attention back to yourself. I hope reading this post inspires you to invite more mindfulness into your day and to prioritize yourself.

Making time to think without interruption is something I consciously have to do these days. I know that’s a weird statement, but stay with me on this. We are constantly stimulated with things to do, media to consume, people to talk to, and things to buy. All-day. When I look at how much screen time I spend on my phone or laptop, I’m disturbed. Of course, nowadays, I spend more time than usual plugged in since many of the things I do or enjoy have to be done online now. However, seeing how many hours I spent looking at a screen each week shifted something for me.

I watch a lot of YouTube, like a lot of people I know. And if I’m not careful, I can spend around 2-3 hours looking at YouTube videos in a single day. Sometimes I find myself watching videos that are like junk food after a while – they don’t really satisfy what I’m hungry for or give me any kind of nutritional value. Last year in November I decided to block YouTube from all of my devices for an entire week. The intention then was for me to redirect my energy and focus on what was most pressing at the time. By the second day of no YouTube, I realized two very important things.

The first was that I craved some form of entertainment to get me through the day. Whenever I saw someone watching a video, my eyes naturally floated to their screen. At one point, I resorted to playing Candy Crush… I haven’t played that game in what feels like decades now. I don’t even care about that game. If that game was somehow deleted entirely without a trace to bring it back, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it (no offense to Candy Crush fanatics). What was I actually looking for? Many things. I was looking for ways to entertain myself, relax, avoid my responsibilities, and soothe myself.

The second thing I realized was that I had so much more time to think. When I wasn’t feeding myself hours of YouTube videos or pacifying myself in other ways, I had more time in silence. I had more time to appreciate the present moment. I had more time to observe my thoughts and ask myself questions. The reality is that I still had the same 24 hours in a day that I always had, but with this space to think, it felt as though time went by slower. As a result, I started to feel better. I felt more grounded, connected to my own thoughts and opinions, and connected to the present moment.

This doesn’t have to be about YouTube (and it isn’t, frankly). Some people like to scroll down Instagram for hours on end, some are gamers all day, and some are just constantly working or taking classes. All of us have our own obligations and relationships to maintain, as well as our favorite mediums to entertain ourselves. What this is about is the fact that a lot of the time, we don’t slow down and consciously give ourselves time to be with ourselves – and nothing else. Even when many of us are encouraged to stay indoors for a while, we fill the gaps of our day with some kind of stimulant. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work, connect with others, or consume our favorite media. I am saying that we could benefit from having some time each day reserved just for us. No videos, no games, no music, no conversations with others. Just you and only you. How does the idea of that make you feel?

To some people, that sounds like heaven. To others, it sounds a little scary and intimidating. Maybe to others, it just sounds kinda boring. I challenge you to try a few minutes in silence and notice your tendencies. Can you sit in silence for 10 minutes and not look at your phone? What do you think about while you’re sitting there? Does your mind immediately go to the tasks you have to do for the day, for example? Observe yourself. Without judging anything or going down the rabbit hole with one of your thoughts, notice what comes up for you.

When you give yourself time to think, you give yourself time to be. You give yourself time to come up with your own conclusions, work through challenging emotions, and appreciate the present. Perhaps what I’m recommending here is that we all commit to a few moments of mindfulness each day and see how that feels for us. After all, a big part of our wellness journeys involves checking in with ourselves. How can we work through limiting beliefs if we haven’t observed them yet? How can we notice how tired we are if we don’t take a second to acknowledge it?

Let’s give ourselves the gift of our own time and attention. Instead of question prompts this week, I would like to offer two challenges:

  • Spend 10 minutes of uninterrupted time today with yourself. Notice what comes up for you.
  • Take inventory of what takes up most of your attention and energy each day (e.g., working, watching the news, spending time with friends, social media, etc.)

I’ll check-in with you next week – have a well and beautiful rest of your Wednesday!

#17: Punting Perfection, and Weekly Favorites

Sunday is probably my favorite day of the week. It’s the best day for relaxation, reflection, and planning. When you think about it, it really is the bridge between last week and the next, which is why I try to make my Sundays as calm as possible. Sundays are the end and the beginning, simultaneously. That’s wild. But also very beautiful.

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At the beginning of last week I was slacking, not gonna lie. With the newfound time in my schedule, I made sure to take some time to relax, but I think I overdid it. I hung out, slept in super late, and as a result was wayyy behind on my schoolwork. It was a real wake up call for me because before I was always on the move, pretty drained, but always on top of my work and meetings. I guess I learned the energy management part I addressed in last week’s post because I wasn’t completely exhausted, but the time management part is what needs revamping. So I want to applaud past-Valencia for learning how to step back and relax. Yay! But now I’m working to make sure future-Valencia knows that downtime has a limit too and that although I have fewer tasks, those tasks can be given more time and attention so that I do them to the best of my ability!

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Punting Perfection

Another revelation that came out of this week is the fact that sometimes I get in my own way when it comes to the projects I want to do and the work I want to put out. In fact, the only time I procrastinate on something is when it’s suuuuper important to me – which is CRAZY. But I know why I do… it’s because I want it to be perfect. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve exponentially and to produce fantastic work even when I’m a novice at something. Which quite frankly, doesn’t make any sense.

For example, I had an assignment for my podcasting class due last week. But I was having some difficulty when it came to not getting all the recordings I needed with the equipment I rented and issues uploading my files. Basically, I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to. Which SUCKED to admit, but I had to once I realized I kept putting off reaching out for help and handing in what I could, for days. The other day I finally swallowed my pride after trying to work on this persistent problem I’ve been having with uploading my files and reached out to my professor for some help.

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Nothing has to be perfect, especially when you’re just starting out. If someone who has never lifted a weight in their life told me they’re going to lift 200 lbs on their first day at the gym I would look at them like they’re crazy. The same logic applies to everything else. You can’t think you’re going to come in and be this extraordinary expert when you’re still learning. And even when you’re an expert you’re still always learning!

In short, having that experience sobered me up to the fact that whenever I find myself procrastinating on something it’s an indication that:

1) I really care about the project or task,

2) I’m putting way too much pressure on myself to make it perfect, and that…

3) I need to cut myself some slack, enjoy the process, and be proud of whatever I end up creating at the end of the day. Doing my best is enough.

This past week wasn’t perfect, and that’s okay. Maybe its purpose was to give me a wakeup call. And for that, I’m very grateful.

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Wishing you relaxation, peace, and productivity this week.

Weekly Favorites

Youtube Channel: Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

App: ToDoist – a great to-do list app that’s free, but many of the unlimited features are for the premium subscription