Chelsea Miller is a model, fitness junkie, and advocate for changing the way we talk about health and curvy bodies. She writes about working out, health, her skincare obsessions, and more on her blog, Watch Her Glow, and we’re thrilled to have her as a contributor for THE/THIRTY.
Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? That you never have enough time to get everything on your list done or that you just don’t have the time to take simple steps for your happiness, health, and well-being?
I thought I knew crazy until about a year ago when my schedule was literally changing by the moment and packed to capacity. I was a full-time employee (at a medical device company), a full-time student, a full-time model, and a part-time actress—not to mention I had my two dogs, a boyfriend, and a house that desperately needed my attention at times. There were days that I would go into my regular job at 3 a.m., leave at 5:30 a.m. to go to a modeling job in L.A., go back to my regular job at 4:30 p.m., then go to school at 6 p.m. to get home at 10 p.m. and do it all over again.
Looking back, I wonder why in the world I did that to myself—but I’m also pretty damn impressed. So I started to reflect on the things I did (and still do!) to keep myself sane while managing a not-so-sane schedule.
I am the queen of multitasking, but it also wasn’t helping my schedule. I was getting a lot of things partially done but nothing completed. The first thing I did was focus on managing how much time I was spending on different things. I realized that I often would spend too much time on tasks or activities that weren’t very high on my priority list and I wasn’t left with enough time for the things of real importance.
I started limiting my time spent on lower-priority items and focusing on one task at a time. For example, I would tell myself you can only spend one hour on cleaning the house, two hours working on a paper, 30 minutes to walk the dogs, one hour to read, and so on. I truly set a timer for each task. This helped me because I was more focused on a single task because I knew I only had a certain amount of time and I didn’t jump between tasks the way I used to. I was finally checking things off of my list instead of being halfway done on multiple items.
Also, because there were drive and determination behind what I was doing, I spent less time aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or getting lost on the internet while doing research. On the flip side, by being so efficient, I actually gained a little bit of free time.
Limit your time on social media.
Since I mentioned Instagram, I think it’s also important to limit the amount of time you spend on social media, not only if you’re busy, but also for your overall well-being. It’s a wormhole that no one with a hectic schedule truly needs, but like a lot of people, I still like looking to see what my friends and family are up to. Now, I limit the number of times I check it per day and how long I’m on it each time.
Make sure you set aside time for self-care.
There is no faster way to get burnt out than not making time for little things that you enjoy. If you have a hobby or just something you love to do, make space for it in your schedule.
For me, it’s hiking! I take my dogs with me, which means I don’t need to walk them (two birds), I get much-needed exercise and release some tension and really clear my mind. I don’t know why or how hiking is such a euphoric experience for me—something about the sun on my skin, being in nature, the endorphins, and the sense of accomplishment—but I just love it. Seek out anything that brings you happiness.
Set the tone for your day first thing.
When I knew that I was going to have a more jam-packed day than normal, I started it as slowly as I could. Even if it meant that I had to get up a little earlier, I would try to take my pups for a walk or sit on my patio with a cup of coffee or tea. I’ve personally always struggled with meditation, but that is another way to set the precedent for what the day is going to bring.
For some reason, when I’d go into these days calm or more relaxed, they didn’t seem as long or as painful as they looked on paper. Also, there is something to be said for getting up a little early so you are not late and do not feel rushed. Given the choice in the moment, I totally just want to stay in bed for that extra 20 to 30 minutes, but if I have to choose between sleep and the stress of running late, I choose to get my butt out of that warm, cozy bed (no matter how begrudgingly).
Allow for breaks.
Take many, take at least one longer one, and schedule them as frequently as possible. A little break goes a long way. After two hours of working on a paper and providing it my full attention, I’d take a five- to 10-minute snack break. I’d sit on my patio in the sun and eat a little something and give the dogs a good pet. When it comes to mealtimes, I’d give myself 45 minutes to eat, so I am mindful of what I’m eating and can really enjoy it.
All in all, it’s about balancing your priorities and your happiness. But one thing that I try to remind myself regularly is Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”