Productivity

Time Saving Tips to Recharge Your Routine

by Stacy Suaya May 25, 2018

There is little mystery behind how celebrities or lifestyle gurus manage to do it all (hint: it’s called a staff). But what about a mom with four kids and a full-time job who still maintains a true work/life balance?

How does a student with a full-time job still find time to pursue his passion to play the viola? It’s all about finding routines, easy resources and time management hacks that work.

We spoke to the real experts who do it all — everyday superheroes who balance kids, multiple jobs and dream projects — for tips and tricks on how they’ve built productivity into their daily routines.

The Entrepreneur


Benjamin Schoeffler / Reno, NV

Five years ago, Benjamin Schoeffler had a full-time job installing electrical meters, in addition to attending night school to train in hypnosis (and preparing to open his own private practice). He was doing mixed martial arts three times a week and, somehow, he also made time once a week for a viola lesson.

Despite a personally and professionally fulfilling weekly line-up, he struggled with self-motivation and  procrastination issues, and was beating himself up about all of it. Today, Schoeffler, 33, says he has no trouble getting stuff done anymore since he discovered the routine that was right for him.

He’s now working from home part-time and running a podcast called Shut Up, Brain (it’s about, ironically, self-improvement). His endless energy bank also allows him to pursue a black belt in Krav Maga and learn guitar.

Get the routine down

  • Set a morning routine. Each day, he gets up at 5:30 a.m., does a 15-30-minute meditation, goes to the gym, then has three eggs, with toast or waffles, and tea and milk.
  • Check your lists. Schoeffler then bulldozes through two lists he’s made the night before. The first includes the practical things he wants to accomplish the next day, such as recording a guided meditation and setting up an online store to track analytics. His second list includes personal reminders (go to bar trivia night with friends) and necessary tasks (pay water bill).
  • Identify two to three activities that make life easier and do them every day. For a while, he would have a dance party at the end of his workday. “I would just put on some music and dance in my office for a few songs. It helps me not take life so seriously. Any way you can combat stress will make your life easier,” he says. He also recommends having a pet. Since he works from home, multiple times per day he will go tackle his big Siberian cat named Teddy. “He is big and fluffy and doesn't mind being hugged to death. That also lowers stress and gives me a work break, which makes life easier,” Schoeffler says. 
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Identify two to three activities that make life easier and do them every day.
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The Super Mom 


Alexandria Serwe-Montoya / Tucson, AZ

“Okay, so we have a crazy huge family,” says Alexandria Serwe-Montoya, 38. She lives on a four-acre ranch with her husband, who has three of his own children, ages 13, 19, 30, and her 13-year-old-son from a previous marriage. Together, they also have a 2-month-old baby, a toddler and an 8 year old.

But wait, there’s more: two dogs, one cat and three horses. Serwe-Montoya is a night supervisor at a hospital, and also has a side hustle selling clothing, both online and at her home (sometimes mom shoppers bring their kids and they’ll play with her kids out on the ranch while mom shops).

It’s a family affair

  • Let cooking tools do the work for you. Serwe-Montoya swears by her slow cooker, rice cooker and bread machine. The added bonus to these efficient tools is that she says her house always smells good when something is cooking. Also, she relies on the experts for budget-friendly (and fast) recipes and follows several money-saving recipe blogs.
  • Don’t underestimate beans — they stretch the dollar and the nutrition. “We make quick bean and cheese burritos, or add them into soups or stews,” she says. She also makes snack time simple with healthy pre-packaged snacks like protein bars, applesauce and yogurt tubes (tip: put these in the freezer so they turn into popsicles and double as teethers for the baby).
  • Find your task. “In our family we find the best thing is for everyone to have a job, regardless of their age,” Serwe-Montoya says. Each family member has designated tasks, from taking care of the horses to washing dishes to clearing and cleaning the table.
  • Use nap and car time wisely. When her baby is napping, Serwe-Montoya will squeeze in a shower, and maybe a quick walk or jog around the trail they have on property. When she has to run an errand, she’ll call relatives from the car or listen to an educational talk.
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Don’t underestimate beans — they stretch the dollar and the nutrition.
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The Activist 


Sarah Kate Levy / Los Angeles, CA

Sarah Kate Levy, 42, is married, has four children and no shortage of things to juggle. She is the president of a political caucus and an active member of The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles.

On top of that, Levy volunteers as a lobbyist for various organizations and sits on the board of a local homeowners association. For Levy, it’s not just about how she gets it all done — but how the whole family gets it done. “I’ve decided that the kids have to do everything too,” she says.

Everyone pitches in

  • Don’t give options. Levy’s kids used to be extremely picky — one wouldn’t eat anything with tomato sauce, but loved sushi. One kid disliked cream cheese and pizza. Now, they get one choice for each meal, and if they don’t eat it, the only other option is peanut butter. (“At least they’re getting their RDA of plant-based protein”, she says.)
  • Combine exercise with things you have to do anyway, like walking the dog. Levy bought a pair of ice skates, so she could circle the rink while her daughter was in ice skating lessons. She also sees other parents running around the soccer field while their kids are in practice.

  • Take your child with you wherever you need to go, and give them jobs. That way, they’re learning and building self-esteem. When at events, Levy has her kids work the registration table or the greeter line. They also write postcards at postcard parties (for nonprofit organizations), decorate the cards, and lick and apply all the postage.
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Combine exercise with things you have to do anyway, like walking the dog.
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The Working Artist


Daniel Maidman / Brooklyn, NY

Daniel Maidman, 42, lives in Brooklyn, NY, is married with a 4-year-old and has two part-time jobs. He splits his time between work as an education consultant (which he spends 15-20 hours a week on), and as working artist; his drawings and paintings have appeared in countless magazines. He has also published two books.

Maidman credits his self-developed system for looking at time for his ability to get his dream projects done – like “Railroad to Zanzibar,” a historical fantasy novel he started writing in 2005.

Manage your time

  • “I think of every day as having about 2.5 blocks of constructive time in it (apart from eating, taking a shower and sleeping). A block is a non-fixed amount of time sufficient to really settle into something that requires care and attention,” Maidman explains. He developed this system many years ago when he began to understand the difficulty of doing everything he hoped to do. It’s remained the core of his practice.
  • For example, if you have a full-time job, that might be 1.5 of your blocks. If you’re married, it might require another half block on a weekday to participate in your relationship with love and attention. So, you’ve got a half block left over. “You can use that to go to the gym, clean the bathroom or write your novel,” says Maidman.
  • Use a quarter block “like a ninja.” Maidman suggests reading, brainstorming or planning logistics for a project. “All of those things can make real contributions without being long sit-down activities.”

Whichever way you choose to view time, we can all agree it’s valuable. Saving time can add up to increased efficiency, happier home life and a saner you. Here’s to enjoying life — and getting those dream projects done.

 

 

Stacy Suaya is a frequent slow cooker user. The Los Angeles-based writer's work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, C Magazine and Robb Report.

 

 

The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article.

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A block is a non-fixed amount of time sufficient to really settle into something that requires care and attention...
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