Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
I am one busy woman. I have a full-time job, night and weekend writing, a baby on the way, a new house with a bajillion projects everywhere I look, and two amazing pets who have a knack for making messes every time I turn around. It’s a wonder I have any time for the things in my life that I genuinely enjoy doing just for the sake of doing it: Spending time with my family and friends, long walks, weekly yoga classes, writing just for me, and learning new skills like photography and web design. There are many days (OK, many weeks) that these things get pushed to the bottom of my to-do list or just get lost in the shuffle of busy day-to-day life.
Last week, I wrote about New Year’s resolutions and how I long to slow down and enjoy my life more, especially the little things. This week, I’m realizing that in my quest to savor more of the things that give me enjoyment, it would help a lot to make more room in my schedule for these thing. But how?
I think yoga offers some great insights and reminders. Here are 5 ways yoga can help with time management.
1. Mono-task. I have no idea where I first heard that a yoga practice could teach us how to mono-task instead of multitask, but it’s a concept that has stayed with me. When you’re balancing in Tree Pose, you can’t even think about anything else or you’ll lose your balance and fall. Likewise, you can’t get work done or even enjoy the fun stuff if you stop every 5 minutes to check your email. Do one thing until you’re finished, and move on to the next thing.
2. Discipline. It takes a LOT of discipline to have a daily yoga or meditation practice. It also takes a lot of structure. In the times I’ve been the most successful at accomplishing my tasks, I’ve done it by being extremely structured about working at it at the same time of day or on the same days of the week.
3. Prioritize. I’m beginning to understand why some schools encourage getting up and practicing first thing in the morning. When you put it off until later, life might throw a curve ball your way and foil your plans to practice. Prioritizing the most important things on my to-do list and tackling those first have helped me to find more balance in my life. Those things that fulfill you—such as your yoga practice, healthy eating, long walks, and laughing with friends—those have to take priority over the dishes sometimes so you can be happy and balanced.
4. Ask for help when you need it. When I first started taking yoga classes, I would get offended when my teacher offered an easier modification for me or came over with a block or a strap. Now I realize that without that help, I would never have understood the integrity and subtle nuances of the poses. I’m realizing that the same is true in my life. There are times that I will not be able to do all the things that are important to me if I can’t ask my husband for his help with the dishes or taking the dog for an occasional walk—and feeling guilty about that is just crazy. No one can do it all.
5. Live your life the way you practice your yoga poses—do it YOUR way and don’t make comparisons with anybody else. It’s really amazing that my next door neighbor has time to juggle three young kids, get them to their ballet classes and soccer games on time, work part time, and still manage to look like she stepped off the cover of Vogue. Good for her! She’s like the woman on the other side of the yoga studio with the fantastic splits. Maybe it’s her good karma or her childhood training as an Olympic gymnast—her achievements don’t make my efforts any less fruitful, so I do the best with what I have and enjoy the breaths as they come to me.