ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Cristina Villalón is the Co-Founder and Lead Designer at Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón. She directs both the Interior Design and Visual Merchandising divisions while overseeing all decisions made on a day-to-day basis at the firm.
Working full-time while balancing a life that involves friends and family is not an easy feat.
Even though it’s impossible to literally “do it all” (something’s always gotta give), I’ve put together some tips to help all you over achievers like me, try.
1. OWN THE DAY
If you want to be as productive as you can be, aim to start your day off on the right foot. I like to wake up before dawn and go for a walk. Walking clears my mind, gets my energy flowing and lets me start my day off right. Sometimes, I’ll do a walking meditation. Other days, I’ll listen to a podcast or music. No matter what I decide, waking up before the chaos begins, makes me feel in control and empowered to take on the day. Having a clear mind is essential to being as effective as possible. Try it! Getting to see the sun rise is a reward in and of itself!
2. GET ORGANIZED (POWER OF 3)
If you want to have a shot at doing everything you put your mind to, you must start by getting organized. I keep a journal. It prompts me to plan out my 3 most important tasks of the day. Ask yourself, if I get nothing else done today, what 3 things would feel great to cross off my to do list? In other words, what are the most important tasks of the day? Prioritizing what’s really important will allow you to focus on what’s most pressing instead of spending your days “fire fighting.” A little organization goes a long way.
Next, add all of your personal and professional meetings and appointments to your calendar. This will give you a clear picture of your day. Here’s another tip: make sure to schedule things that bring you JOY! Lunch with a friend, zoom call with your grandma, sunset at the beach with yourself. We tend to book all the meetings and appointments others ask of us, but we forget ourselves and our needs. By putting them on your calendar, you are more likely to follow through with them. You are in control of your calendar. Make the best of your time.
3. LEARN TO SAY NO
If you’re a people pleaser like me, this will be a difficult one. I actually own a cocktail napkin that says, “Stop me before I volunteer again!” I get it. I do! You want to help, you want to make difference! You probably suffer from a little bit of FOMO. But you have to learn to say NO. You can’t go to every single birthday party or dinner, you can’t volunteer for every committee, you can’t be in every board you are asked to participate in. At least, not at the same time.
Get clear on your goals. Figure out what really matters to you and where you want to focus your energy. Then make sure that whatever you agree to do aligns with those goals. It takes practice to learn how to say no but it’s like a muscle. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Remember what Warren Buffet said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
4. DELEGATE OR OUTSOURCE
In today’s technology driven world, outsourcing has become easier than ever. No need to go to the grocery store, I’m sure you can do your grocery shopping online! You can basically do all your shopping online. Figure out what tasks only YOU can do and try to delegate almost everything else. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was this: “Anything that you can pay someone else to do for you, for less than you can charge for that time, is not a cost, it’s an investment.” How true this is!
Think of all the meaningless tasks that eat up your time like going to the pharmacy, putting gas in your car, cleaning, housekeeping, etc. Find someone to help you with these things and then spend your time doing things you enjoy. You’ll not only be creating jobs, but you’ll be happier and more productive. All these things you spend countless hours on, is UNPAID work that normally falls on the shoulders of women. Let’s start paying people to do these tasks and start producing a lot more into the world!
5. LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR TIME & ENERGY
Learn to manage your time wisely. This means spending time on the things that are most important to you. Try to keep yourself doing tasks that are important but not urgent. We tend to put aside important tasks to focus on the urgent. When that happens, we are not only putting out fires all the time, but we are burning through our energy reserves. When we lack energy, tasks take twice as long. Focus on your priorities first, in order to avoid wasting valuable time on things you can delegate or take care of at another moment.
Even though it’s impossible to do everything at once, there are ways to help you maximize your time and accomplish what you need to do both in your personal and professional life. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Owning the day, organization, learning to say no, delegating, time and energy management, are simple methods you can use to balance it all. The key to everything is consistency. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” (may or may not have been said by Aristotle) Still, good advice!