Practical Tips to Get More Time for Your Health
There is a connection between stress and lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes – all the way down to the molecular level. Even if you don’t feel stressed, setting good time priorities can free up time for meaningful, healthy habits.
We have compiled a list of tips about how you can get more time for your health. It’s hard to live according to a list like this, so see it more as inspiration for your personal questions about what may suit you.
1. Prioritizing is about choosing one thing – and thereby also not choosing something else. It is often painful to have to give up something. “Everything I do is important,” many people say. But someone who wants to do everything often gets nothing done. Stress arises not just from having too much to do but often from not prioritizing what’s most essential.
“Every day there are thousands of things I should do,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said. “In order not to be stressed I focus on what is absolutely most important and make everything else a lower priority.”
2. Many people have a hard time saying no to everything that demands our interest or everyone who asks for our efforts. To be able to say yes whole-heartedly to what is most essential, it’s also important to be able to say no.
We should think, however, about what our “no” is going to mean for the other party. By prioritizing the contexts where you are most irreplaceable and where your presence makes the biggest difference, you can make more time for what is truly meaningful.
3. Ask every day why you do your activities. Are they there out of old habit? Are they meaningful in a longer perspective or a pastime for the moment?
4. Contrary to what many people believe, most often it is not efficient to do several things at the same time. Studies show that tasks are then more likely to take longer – our brains can only manage a certain amount of information at one time.1
5. Making a plan for the day can help you prioritize and control time, whether or not you are working. Don’t forget to sometimes schedule relaxation and rest – there is a difference between planning to do nothing and not doing anything!
6. Our performance capacity and concentration vary in cycles throughout the day. Therefore we feel best – and get the most done – if we adapt our activities to this biological rhythm, even if in many cases this is difficult in practice because or work or a social situation.
If you are most creative early in the day, then don’t fill the morning with routine activities. If on the other hand you are a person who comes to life toward evening, then don’t waste your best time of the day passing the time.
7. Avoid making “Swiss cheese” out of the day. We often ruin our days off by making them into a Swiss cheese with scattered activities and a lot of holes in between. A few activities then risk tying up the whole day and we never feel unoccupied.
Try instead to gather the activities into a coherent grouping. If you’ll be shopping, then do all your errands at one time. If you have meetings, avoid unnecessary gaps in between. Then you’ll have the rest of the day open to focus on what’s truly essential, or why not simply relax?
8. Make a list of how you spend a typical day, divided into hours, half-hours or fifteen-minute segments. You may be reluctant but making such a list for a day can result in “aha” experiences about how you use your time and how much “set-up time” you have between different activities. Perhaps it will be easier for you to find space for an exercise session or walk when you clearly see how you use (or waste) your time.
9. Make room for physical workouts or everyday exercise. Many people say that they don’t have time to exercise. It may be worth asking ourselves if there isn’t 30 minutes somewhere where we could prioritize differently to make room for health.
You probably already follow much of this advice, but focusing even more on how you prioritize time can have major health effects.
What advice can you make use of to get more time for your health?
1. Rubinstein JS et al., Executive control of cognitive processes in task switching. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2001 27(4):763-97.