Managing life can feel like a full-time job these days. This can be especially true for busy Millennials, who are still figuring out new careers and social scenes post-college.
No worries. We’ve pulled together seven time-management tips and paired them with the productivity tools that will give you back your time—and your sanity.
1. PREP YOUR MEALS
Prepping your weekly meals ahead of time can make for some ‘gram-worthy images of chopped veggies and expertly seasoned proteins, but the meal prep life can also lead to significant changes in both your financial and physical health.
Creating weekly meal lists from scratch might feel daunting at first; luckily there are tons of tools and meal prep services out there to help you get the inspiration you need to get started, plus the practical, concrete support you need to stay motivated.
Looking for a good app to get started? Cook Smarts is a comprehensive meal planning tool featuring a range of subscription services all under $7.49/month. The site offers video cooking lessons, gorgeous infographics on nutrition, plus 1-click grocery lists to keep you well-nourished and under budget.
2. MASTER THE MINI WORKOUT
Fitting in time for a workout when you’re balancing a new career and a growing social life may sound impossible, but you can still fit in some meaningful movement without devoting hours at the gym.
If you’re looking for a quick but effective way to stay in shape and get your sweat on, look no further than the infamous “7 Minute Workout.” Based on research published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, this workout focuses on a set of core exercises that will give you a full body workout in just 7 minutes a day.
After reporting on this story, The New York Timescreated their own free iOS app, and there are a number of 7 Minute apps on the market. A solid choice to get you up off the couch and on with your busy day!
3. PRACTICE UNPLUGGING
Using digital tools to stay on top of your tasks is a given in today’s culture, but constant access to our hyper-connected world can leave you feeling exhausted.
To stay on top of your time management game, it’s important to give yourself breaks from notifications, likes, and even all important texts and emails.
Freedom is a tool that helps you reduce distraction and build in periods of focus and concentration when you truly need to get stuff done. Download the app and set regular periods of internet blocking on your mobile device, or use it on your laptop or desktop to avoid wasting minutes and hours on distracting clickbait.
4. QUIET YOUR MIND
Scheduling your time, using a bullet journal, and creating digital reminders are all great ways to and get stuff done, but what happens if you can’t keep your mind off all the other tasks you need to do?
Incorporating a few minutes of daily meditation not only reduces stress but also helps improve focus and performance when it’s time to really zone in and crank out a big task.
Buddhify is an accessible, beautifully designed app that offers short meditations you can take advantage of while walking, eating, going to sleep, waking up, taking a work break—pretty much anytime, anywhere. Data nerds will love the goal setting and tracking features, but anyone can benefit from a few minutes a day spent getting calm and present, and learning how to carry that state throughout your packed schedule.
5. PRIORITIZE SLEEP
And speaking of rest, let’s be real: are you getting the sleep you need to live the life you want?
Managing your schedule well means allowing enough time each day to wind down and fully recharge with a good night’s sleep.
Sleep Cycle is a cool little iOS app that tracks your REM states. It uses your smartphone’s accelerometer to detect your movements and then wakes you up each morning when your body is naturally coming out of a deep sleep state. Easy to use data tracking can help you maximize your best sleep each night (and Android users can find a similar tool in Sleep As Android).
6. SET GOALS
In both your personal and professional life, goal-setting can bring purpose to each day, which means that time management starts becoming an intuitive part of how you live and work.
When you know where you’re headed, you start becoming smarter about how you get there, especially when you use an app like GoalsOnTrack to set and achieve S.M.A.R.T. goals.
The tool works on all smartphone devices, and will let you establish big goals that are broken down according to a template that tests your objectives to ensure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
Ahh, don’t you feel more on top of life already?
7. SCHEDULE YOUR LIFE TO GET YOUR LIFE
If you want to truly feel like you are in the driver’s seat of your own life, you’ve got to start with a schedule.
Whether you rock an old-school planner or use some pretty cool appointment scheduling software like Spritnful, leveraging a scheduling system empowers you to take back your time from distraction or needless worry.
But beware of going overboard on planning every little thing. One of the secrets to great scheduling is blocking periods that are truly “free.” Giving yourself breaks to daydream, think big about your future, or just kick it with some friends will let you focus even harder when it comes time to crush it on a big work project.