Here in the Southern hemisphere Spring is in full swing. Flowers are bursting out, the skies are sunny and clear and temperatures are hitting a perfect twenty-something degrees.
The beautiful weather has prompted a flurry of activity for me. I’ve been forging ahead with some long awaited home improvement tasks that sat idle over winter, and I’m going for more frequent runs and longer walks. It’s such a pleasure to do these things when your hands aren’t freezing cold and an icy wind isn’t whipping your face.
It got me thinking about how we can try and time our projects and tasks for when there’s less resistance. This might be internal resistance from our own mood and preference, or external resistance from things like weather and traffic. Instead of trying to force things to happen, we can be strategic and expend less overall energy to achieve the same results.
Hours of the day
Try to structure your work day so that you’re getting the most important things done, when you’re most alert and productive. For me that’s first thing, before I start getting too distracted with emails and phone calls. I’ve recently begun to start my work day at 7am. I can then work for 2-3 hours on my own priorities before I need to start responding to external requests. I save all my administrative work and meetings for later on in the day when I start to get tired.
I’m not particularly energetic first thing in the morning and I’ve never been able to establish an exercise habit before work. The odd time I’ve managed to go the gym early I’ve felt drained all day. Instead, I keep a strict log-off time of 3pm and exercise straight after work.
Another bonus is that traffic is much quieter this early, making my commutes quicker and less stressful.
Days of the week
My current exercise goal is to go for a run twice per week. I try to make one of these happen on Mondays, then on day one I’m already halfway to my goal, and if the rest of the work week turns out to be really busy I have more choice of when to fit in my second run.
I also try to keep my weekends as free as I can from small chores that can easily eat up my Saturdays and Sundays. I prefer to keep this time for day-hikes and weekend trips, or to focus on hobby and home projects. I do my clothes washing during the week, go to the supermarket on Thursdays when it’s less busy and when the offers change over (this is the day that items are fully stocked up and by the weekend some offers or flavours have sold out), and make sure the house is tidy on Fridays so that it doesn’t feel like my first task on Saturday morning. The exceptions are the lunch prep that I do every other Sunday afternoon, and the deep(ish) clean I do once per month.
Seasons of the year
This is what kicked off the inspiration behind this post in the first place. I didn’t take the cold winter weather into account when I was planning our renovation project, and should have used the end of autumn as a deadline to finish certain tasks that needed things to be done outdoors.
Next year, when I’m planning projects, I’ll be thinking a bit more carefully about the weather. Focusing on physical work and pushing myself with exercise in the middling temperatures of spring and autumn, and doing writing projects when the short winter days make you more inclined to do cozy indoor activities.
I already think about the seasons when I’m planning holidays – both at my destination and the weather I’ll be keen to get away from at home – but I don’t necessarily think about how I’ll be feeling during the year. Next year I’ll be thinking a bit more carefully about when I take leave. I’ll try to identify when I’m likely to be busy, and schedule leave just after the delivery of big projects when I’m going to appreciate the break and not be worried about upcoming deadlines.
Seasons of your life
I pick one focus area for each year so that I’m not overwhelmed with habits to establish, and they don’t end up competing with one another. 2020 was my year for creating personal finance habits, and 2021 has been my year for health and wellbeing.
The focus areas I have chosen have been based on my prioritised values, but not necessarily on what was best for my phase of life. This has also been true for the projects that I’ve started. For example, I’ve been doing renovations in the same period that I changed job and have been working really hard to earn a promotion. I also chose to focus on finance and health over the past two years, whereas because I knew I was thinking about a job change, it might have been more efficient to focus on my career and finding a better sense of fulfillment.
I imagine that this consideration applies particularly when you go through a big life change like starting to study or having kids. If you know you will have a big focus as part of your life, try adding things that compliment this focus first before you add completely new things.
Have you tried changing the timing of your tasks or projects and seen better results? I’d love to know in the comments!