Always running out of time? This is how to fix it
by Heather Thatcher
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Believe me, I get it.
Running an online business to multiple markets is a lot of work and I keep thinking of new things to create, new avenues to help serve you best. But I’m only one person with the same number of hours in the day as you.
Just like you, I enjoy some things more than others and I put a higher value on certain activities, like creating posts like this or connecting with you on social media, or playing a board game with my husband, yoga, or getting out for a walk with our dog Takoda.
But there are things like meal preparation that still have to happen, even though I would love to have a personal chef one day so I never had to worry about this again.
Life balance means different things to different people, but no matter how you look at it, there are always some mandatory things that we all need to get done like cooking, doing laundry, cleaning the house, groceries, managing our bills and finances, commuting to and from work – I’m sure you can come up with some others for yourself.
The key to finding the right life-balance for you is to streamline the heck out of your life.
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What do I mean by streamlining?
Just like in online business, or in the company that you work for, or in assembly line production facilities – there are systems and processes in place that help support the workers to get their work done as efficiently as possible.
You can do the exact same thing for the everyday tasks that take time away from what you’d rather be doing.
You can set up systems and processes that make things like meal planning, household chores, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, bills and paperwork or anything that you don’t enjoy doing, but has to happen.
Not only will this minimize the time you’re spending on these other tasks so you’ll have more time for what’s most important to you, it will also lower your decision fatigue which makes it easier for you to live the life you want. This means that you’ll be able to save your brain power for important decisions, rather than worry about something little like what to make for dinner.
Streamlining your life is the key to lowering your stress because you’ll be able to eliminate some of the things from your to-do list.
If you don’t even have to think about certain to-do list items or make those decisions like what to make for dinner, you’re lowering your overall stress response and making your life so much easier.
Let’s talk about this in a practical setting.
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Here’s how to apply a streamlining system to meal planning
Meal planning is something that’s known to greatly improve our health because it lowers our risk decision fatigue by the end of the day so we are able to make healthier, less stress-driven choices around what to eat for dinner.
But, if you’ve ever tried meal planning before, you probably know that it can take up a lot of time.
It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, and in fact you can actually systemize it so that you’ll only have to meal plan once and you’ll be set for life! (not even kidding)
We cover this strategy in more detail in the workshops for the second pillar of the Ultimate Life Survival Guide, but I’m going to give you the gist of it here as an example of how you can streamline your life.
Google Calendar or any other free calendar app that you have on your phone or computer is capable of creating a meal plan that can go on for eternity and you’ll never have to come up with the answer to “what’s for dinner” ever again.
Here’s how it works.
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Step 1: Brainstorm 28 different meal categories
I don’t know about you, but the idea of eating the same thing for dinner every night sounds like an awful idea to me.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to start with a blank slate while looking for new recipes every week. Instead, I recommend setting up a rotating calendar of meal categories to help you simplify your recipe search.
Meal categories are things like casseroles, buddha bowls, soup and sandwich, breakfast for dinner, pasta, stir fry, meat and potatoes (which we do a vegetarian or plant-based protein instead of your typical meat option because we’re vegetarian), pizza, mexican, east Indian, Mediterranean, Italian etc.
Come up with as many different meal categories as you can – ideally you want 28.
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Step 2: Use a free calendar app and put these meals in as a rotating event
After you have your 28 or so “meal categories” figured out, then you put them in your Google Calendar or calendar app so that they repeat every 28 days or however many days.
Then, you have a perpetual meal plan! You can look ahead at the next week and see the meal categories listed there, see if you already have a tried and true recipe or if you need to find one.
Pinterest is a great next step to pin a recipe for that meal category for the week if you want something new.
I share my rotating meal plan calendar with the members of the Ultimate Life Survival Guide community so if you want a done for you option, it’s in there.
But really, the time it will take you to create these 28 meal categories and put it into your calendar on a repeating schedule means that you’ll save so much time and energy for the foreseeable future.
Not only that, you’ll also save lots of money on groceries because you’ll know what you need for the week and won’t have to worry about things going to waste.
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Pro tip: Schedule a casserole or soup once a week to use up any leftover produce from the week.
We alway have a casserole, soup or homemade veggie lasagna once a week because it’s a great way to use up whatever you have left from your groceries for the week.
There are very few veggies that can’t be made into some kind of soup or casserole.
In that meal planning and preparation workshop we also go into detail for how you can plan and prepare your entire week’s worth of dinners in just one hour. And that means that on the night of, you only need 10 minutes to warm everything up and bring it all together.
I don’t know if you know this yet, but cooking does not bring me joy. I really don’t like cooking or preparing food at all, and so knowing that my healthy, homemade meal will come together in 10 minutes or less makes it a lot easier for me to stick to the plan, rather than look for take-out.
Looking for ideas? Check out our free Facebook Group.
In the second unit of our Free Facebook Group there is a brainstorming section that already comes pre-loaded with a list of 21 meal categories and you’re welcome to join the brainstorming that is happening below it.
You can join that group, which has other helpful resources like this to help you streamline your life in other ways as well as a supportive community to help you stay on track by going to heatherthatcher.com/facebook
See you there, lovely! I can’t wait to get to know you a bit better!