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In last week’s episode, Episode 59 – I walked you through my annual planning process – one that I’ve been using and improve for, gosh… maybe the last 5-10 years… If you haven’t tuned into that one yet, definitely add it to you to-do list so you can you Plan with Purpose as you walk into the new year.
>> Listen Now: Plan with Purpose: How to Plan Your Year with Intention Even in Times of Uncertainty
Whether you’re listening to this episode in late December, early January or even the middle of June – there’s one thing that we all need to make sure we’re planning for regardless of the time of year, so I’ve decided to dedicate an episode to giving you all of the ideas you need to make planning this part of life a priority.
Today, I’m talking about Recharge – one of the 5 pillars of living with HEART.
You’ve probably heard me say before that Time Management begins with HEART management, but you may not know that HEART has become the core of my practice as a time management coach.
Each letter in the word HEART represents a different piece of the overall time management puzzle.
H for habits
E for energy
A for attention
R for recharge and
T for time.
It’s so appropriate that time comes last, because moving things around on our calendar can’t begin until we’ve considered the other 4 pillars.
So in Episode 60, I share
Why it’s critical to prioritize recharge.
What exactly recharge means in the context of life of time management and
How you can you be intentional about recharging in your life in order to show up as your best self, for yourself – and for your loved ones.
WHY DO WE NEED RECHARGE
We are not robots, or cell phones or wireless Bluetooth Speakers – so how exactly does recharge apply to us as humans?
It would probably help for me to go back to the beginning and share with you why I like to use the word Recharge, and why Recharge is such a key element of living with HEART – as I shared at the beginning of this episode.
There are some things in life that light us up. That give us energy. That replenish us both physically, mentally and emotionally.
You can probably think of some things, activities – even people – who just make you feel great.
All work and no play makes Anna – and probably you, too – a dull girl.
And that’s where recharge comes in.
Recharge is the word I like to use to capture three critical categories of replenishing our physical, mental and emotional energy.
THE THREE CATEGORIES OF RECHARGE
Those three categories are
Rest, recreation and relationships.
Y’all know how much I love some alliteration with my Marketing Mondays and Wash Towels Wednesdays, so it thrills my soul that all of these words just go together so well.
Unlike meetings on a calendar, client deadlines or work projects – rest, recreation and relationships can be kind of abstract, and they have to be managed by us. Most of the time, no one is going to put this kind of stuff on our calendar for us. It’s up to us to carve out time for, and we desperately need it.
Let’s dive into each one.
We’ll start with Rest.
When we talk about rest, we could definitely get into the importance of getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but instead – let’s look at it from the context of taking time off.
A 2019 study on vacation by the U.S. Travel Association found that more than half of U.S. Workers – 54 percent – reported feeling guilty about taking vacation time. 55% of American workers didn’t use all of their paid vacation time – and even when people DO take vacation, 70% of the respondents in another survey by TurnKey admitted to checking in with work while they were out.
Far too often, we can get swept up in the deadlines and projects of the year and wait for a “slower time” to magically appear to take vacation. Or we feel like we have to “earn” our vacation even though we already have the days available.
Newsflash friend – a magically perfect time to take vacation is probably not just going to appear.
You’ve got to treat it like a boulder, block it out and work around it.
In the next few months, I’ll actually be prepping to take a few months off after our new baby is born, so I’m looking forward to putting together an episode on how to prep for being away from work for an extended period of time, whether that’s a week long vacation, a month-long sabbatical or a 2-3 month long maternity leave.
Let’s move on to Relationships.
On the subject of relationships – especially our closest relationships – just like we tend to “wait” and give what’s leftover to our restful time off – our relationships often get our leftovers too.
There are many ways that we can categorize relationships in our lives. Close friends, work friends. Work proximity acquaintances as Ron Swanson on Parks and Rec liked to say. But let’s look at these two groups:
People we see often with little effort, and people we don’t see often.
People We See Often With Little Effort
People we see often with little effort include our spouses or partners, our children who still live with us, and if you’re reporting to an office for work – there are the usual suspects that you see regularly at the office.
Because we see this group of people so often, and so little effort is involved – we can tend to take this group for granted. Just ask any married couple who hasn’t had a date night in a few years and spending time together looks more like zoning out in front of their phones while watching The Office for the 29th time.
So here, I challenge you to ask the question – How can I create more opportunities for quality time with people in this group that I see often? One of my time management clients and her husband shared that they have a bowl of Truth or Dare style questions in their living room. Anytime one notices that they’ve slipped into the zombie phone scroll, they grab the bowl and ask each other funny questions. I love this idea! It’s so simple, and just the act of sitting down and creating the questions on little slips of paper can be a fun, quality time activity.
This is where open and clear communication with your people is really key, we could even dive into Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages here.
If you’re not familiar, Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages describe the 5 general ways that romantic partners (but this could also apply to friendships) express and experience love.
I’ll link the book and the love language quiz so you can learn more, but the five love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Quality Time and
In order to create meaningful connection with your closest relationships – talk about each others love languages, and see how you can meet in the middle or switch back and forth between activities that speak to both of your love languages.
For example – Scott’s love language is Quality Time. Mine is Acts of Services. So I try to make an effort to be fully present whenever we’re together and come up with activities that we can do together or ask meaningful questions that can lead to good conversation. Even just watching Jeopardy reruns and yelling out answers is something fun we can do together.
People We Don’t See Often
On the flip side, there are people we don’t see often. We have to make an effort to see this group of people in our lives, so one of two things happen. We don’t make an effort, we don’t see or talk with them often, the relationship gradually gets weaker to the point of near nonexistence.
Or – one of both of the people in the relationship takes the lead to make sure you stay connected and in touch, even though it takes some effort. Previously this group was mainly composed of friends and family who live far away from us, but this past year of socially distancing due to the pandemic has completely changed the members of this group around for us – and social connection takes more effort and creativity than ever. Group text threads and apps like Voxer and Marco Polo have kept us connected, just like Zoom Happy Hours were a thing in the beginning of the pandemic.
So as you’re thinking of folks in this group – you can ask yourself: Who do you not see often that you want to create or grow a connection with? What could that look like? A regular phone call? Restarting the Zoom happy hour? What could that look like?
And finally – let’s talk recreation.
At some point during the transition from being kids to adults, a lot of us lost our hobbies, or lost touch with having fun for the sake of fun. Everything has to have productivity or some kind of value tied to it in order to be worth our time. Some things can just be fun!
One of my goals for 2020, was to do more fun things for the sake of having fun. But what does fun mean? I had to decide for myself – no one else could do it for me.
If you’re scratching your head thinking… wait – what is fun for me?
I’d challenge you to make a list of 100 dreams, just like in the Plan with Purpose exercise. Get your creative juices flowing and see what rises to the top.
If you want a shortcut, ask yourself – What would I do, if I had all the time in the world and money wasn’t an issue?
What pops up, and how could your pie in the sky answer be reshaped to fit your life today?
When I did this reflection last year – I realized that I love the idea of cooking things from Southern Living magazine. It speaks to my love of hosting and hospitality – even if no one is coming over – and it helps me feel connected to the women in my family who kept stacks on stacks of Southern Living in their homes like a lifestyle bible of sorts.
I kicked this off in January of 2020 by baking the gorgeous chocolate cake with sugar magnolias on the cover of the December 2019 issue – you can actually find the highlights from that adventure in my Instagram Stories. It took three days and a lot of work, but it was awesome and so much fun.
I’ll be continuing the tradition by backing the December 2020 white cake – it’s a coconut cake with chocolate ganache filling, if you’re curious, the week that this episode airs just in time for Christmas Day lunch.
But the recipes and ingredients for that cake and the other fun recipes I like to try throughout the year aren’t going to magically appear in my pantry.
I also love exercise classes, like barre and yoga, and lifting weights. Going for walks on the Mandeville lakefront is also a favorite family activity, but the time to get to the gym or the lakefront isn’t going to magically appear on my calendar.
And that’s the common thread for all three of these aspects of recharge – rest, relationships and recreation. No one is going to schedule this for you. The time is not going to magically appear on your calendar like a meeting invitation for your boss. This is up to you – and I’m so excited to share my secret for carving out time for recharge.
My Secret for Intentional Recharge
It’s called – Look Ahead.
A Look Ahead time block to be more exact.
And quick refresher if you’re new around here – a Time Block is a meeting you schedule with yourself for a specific purpose. It has a clear start time and end time, and it lives in your digital calendar or on the pages of your paper planner.
Every Thursday morning, I have a time block on my calendar – a meeting with myself called Look Ahead. And even though it’s just me, this meeting has an agenda, well it’s actually more of a checklist.
Let me tell you how it works.
Every Thursday, I start my day by looking ahead to the weekend and ask myself these eight simple questions:
What needs to be rearranged to close out the week.
This gives me a chance to look at my original goals for the week, see what hasn’t been completed yet, make adjustments for things that have come up and plan the rest of Thursday and Friday to make sure the most important things are completed.
2. Do I need to plan for any work over the weekend?
I try my hardest to get everything done during the 20-25 working hours I have during my week while Millie is at childcare, but the reality is that it doesn’t always happen. Right now, I’ve got frequent doctor’s appointments as I’m heading into the third trimester of my pregnancy, sometimes Millie gets sick and has to stay home, sometimes things just come up. Looking ahead on Thursday and deciding what if any work I’ll do over the weekend helps me set expectations with Scott in advance and block out when I’ll get that work done – usually during Millie’s afternoon naptimes.
Things start to get a little more fun with Question Number three:
3. Are we going to the gym this weekend?
Based on anything already planned, I go ahead and block out two hours for a family trip to the gym, which brings me to Question 4.
4. Do I need to reserve Millie a spot at Playland?
We’re super fortunate that our gym has a fantastic childcare center, but it requires reservations 24 hours in advance. Rather than waiting til the last minute and potentially missing the window, setting this reminder on Thursday morning and making the reservation then makes us so much more likely to follow through with our plans and head to the gym once Saturday morning arrives.
5. Are there any Southern Living recipes I want to try this weekend?
I’ve got the most recent issue close by, and a folder full of tear outs in the file cabinet beside my desk. If I’ve had my eye on a specific recipe or something seems interesting, I’ll place a grocery pickup or delivery order for the ingredients I need so I’ll have it ready to go for the weekend.
Of course – this question is going to be different for you based on your idea of fun! Maybe you ask yourself – Are there any friends I want to connect with this weekend, and you go ahead and reach out to make plans?
Maybe you ask yourself Do I want to go surfing this weekend and you go ahead and check the waves?
Disclaimer, I know nothing about surfing so I just assume this is something one would check.
Whatever you decide – this is your chance to carve out the time in advance of the weekend so that when the weekend rolls around, the decision is already made and you’re ready to rock and roll.
Last three questions:
6. Do we need anything from Target for a drive up order?
If so – I’ll go ahead and place the order, but I’ll wait and go pick it up on Saturday or Sunday.
7. When will we do laundry/house cleaning?
We tend to get started first thing Saturday or Sunday morning, depending on what else is planned for the weekend.
And finally Question 8
8. Do I want to take a nap?
Yes – seriously. I love naps, and this might seem crazy but I’ve found that if I think through the weekend – when we’ll clean, whether I need to do work, what family activities we’ll do together – I can decide whether or not to take a nap. It’s just one way to be intentional about rest – while still setting yourself up for success over the weekend, and the week ahead.
Look Ahead to Recharge with Rest, Relationships and Recreation
So to recap – Recharge in the form of rest, relationships and recreation feed our soul. Recharge replenishes us physically, mentally and emotionally – but the time for intentionally recharge doesn’t magically appear. Like most good things in life, it takes intention.
And creating a Look Ahead time block – whether yours is on Thursday, like mine – or another day of the week that makes sense for you – creating a Look Ahead time block is just one way that you can bring more intention to the recharge you hope to create during your weekends.
I’d love to know if you’re already practicing something like a Look Ahead time block and what kind of questions you ask yourself to prep for a weekend full of recharge. Tell me in the comments below, or come join us over in the It’s About Time Podcast Community on Facebook and let us know how you look ahead to intentional recharge!
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