How was your weekend? Did you get up to anything fun? I have to admit that once again, I spent a lot of last week burning the candle at both ends because life seems to be exceptionally crazy right now. By Friday night, I was pretty spent after work and still had a blogger function to attend about an hour from home. Despite being tired, it was amazing and you’ll be hearing more about this soon!
I spent Saturday in London with my mum and we had a really fun day of shopping and seeing a play, and Sunday was all about cleaning my condo, cooking up some deliciousness for the blog, and getting a nice little workout in. I could certainly use a bit more time off but I’ve got a good feeling about this week and am ready to take on the day! Anyone else with me?
Speaking of taking on the day, I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a different post this morning. Back when many of you completed my reader survey, many of you said you’d like to see some ‘day in the life of Angela’ posts. You asked about how I balance my full-time job, blogging, fitness, clean eating, and everything else, and while I’m certainly no master at this, I do have a few little productivity hacks to share. We’ll start from the moment I get up…
Yes I know that’s a crazy time, but after several years of being in this routine, my body just seems to come alive on its own a few minutes prior to 4am. I wake up to the sounds of my Sleep Cycle, a sleep tracking iPhone app that starts making noises gradually just prior to my set alarm time. (You can check out my review here if you’re curious about it.) I roll out of bed, throw on my workout gear, and drink some Vega sugar-free pre-workout energizer before hopping in the car and driving to the gym. I can already feel it starting to work on my way there.
This is one of my favourite times of day because I’m sweating in some form or another, whether it’s cycling, running, swimming, ellipticizing, climbing the Stairmaster, doing circuit routines or lifting weights. When I’m not training for a race, I often make up my workouts on the spot and just do what my body feels ready for that day. A typical workout would be something like a 45 minute tempo run (while watching Steven and Chris), 15 minutes of stretching and foam rolling, and 30 minutes testing out a Fit Bit Friday strength circuit. While my mind stays pretty engaged in the strength sessions, I often use my cardio time to think about things like new ideas for the blog, how I’m going to tackle my tasks for the day, or how I’m going to tackle conversations with people I need to talk to. Depending on how much is on my mind, the time flies by!
Still at the gym, I’m showering, blowdrying my hair, and doing my makeup. It took me a year to realize that not only is the shower pressure in my gym’s showers amazing, but their blowdryers are magical (and SO fast!) and the light in the changing rooms is a million times better than any room in my condo. I now do all of my getting ready at the gym, minus getting dressed. I leave in clean sweatpants and a scuba hoodie while deciding on my ‘real clothes’ for the day, then put them on as soon as I get home.
On most mornings I don’t have to be at work until 9. This begs the question “so why the heck do you get up so freaking early?!” The answer is this: I like to ease into the day with a nice leisurely breakfast and some blog reading, so that’s what happens after I get dressed. As I’m preparing my food I like to listen to a podcast that pertains to blogging or my full-time job (usually one from my list of favourite informational and inspirational podcasts here). There’s so much content out there that I wish I could consume each day, but since I can’t spend every waking hour in front of a computer, podcasts help me do that while also being productive in other ways.
My morning meal typically consists of omelettes or frittatas stuffed with tons of veggies, or a huge green smoothie with chopped fruit on the side. Fluids-wise, it’s plenty of tea and water. Please tell me I’m not the only one who needs to enjoy a hot and cold beverage at the same time?
Since I take my iron supplement in the morning, I can’t drink anything caffeinated with breakfast because the caffeine hinders iron absorption. Instead I stick to herbal or rooibos teas, and right now, my go-to flavours are Yes We Cran from David’s Tea or Chocolate Hazelnut by Stash.
Although my blog posts go live first thing in the morning, I normally do all of my cooking, photo editing, writing, and putting them all together – well, most of them – on the weekends. (Sorry to spoil it if you thought otherwise!) That means that my morning screen time is divided between reading and responding to emails, responding to blog comments, commenting on my fellow bloggers’ posts, sharing the great content I come across on social media, and sometimes writing guest posts for others. I also make a to-do list of tasks that need to be done that day, things that I’d like to complete, and other things that need to be done at some point during the week. The immediate ones are things I try to cross off first, and I work from this list all day. No fancy apps or technology is used – just an old-school pen and notebook.
I’m in the car and driving to work. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my most enjoyable commute because I listen to a Toronto radio station, Z103.5 and the morning hosts read out missed connections. The submissions themselves are hilarious, but what’s even better is the commentary of the hosts. If you have no idea what I’m talking about or want to check it out for yourself, you can listen to them here. I love starting my mornings with a good laugh, and it’s pretty much guaranteed on these days!
I’m at the office and (most days), working very hard. I have an adjustable stand-up desk and tend to stand for most of the morning unless I have meetings to attend. By the afternoon, I switch to a mix of sitting and standing to prevent my body from being in the same position for too long.
My full time job is at an agency where I do this thing called marketing automation. If marketing is your area of expertise you may have heard of it, but if not, the gist is this: I consult with clients and build rather cool automated marketing campaigns which help them reach their prospects and customers at the right time with the right information. It gets a whole lot more complicated, technical, and nerdy than that, but my days are typically spend doing a mix of the following:
- Execution (actually building out these campaigns using a piece of software)
- Training clients on how to use the solutions we’ve built
- Participating in meetings with developers, designers, account managers, and anyone else with expertise required for these projects
- Researching and reading about best practices in the industry
- Consulting with clients, teaching them about what marketing automation is, and how it can help them achieve better business results.
Are you sleepy after reading all that? Don’t worry – it’s lunch time and I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry. We have a great guy whose name I don’t know, so we’ll just call him the Veggie Man, who brings fresh fruit, veggies and dip to the office around 10am every morning, and if I’m feeling hungry, that’s my usual morning snack around 11am. However, by 1:00 I’m ready for lunch. Depending on the day, I may take my lunch hour and run errands like grocery shopping, banking, and stopping at the gas station. If none of that needs to be done and things aren’t crazy at work, I often drive to Starbucks, grab a tea, and chill out while writing in my journal or reading a magazine. The best days are often the ones where I can get out of the office over lunch, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case lately – things are just too busy and time has been flying!
With a few rare exceptions like team celebrations, I pack my lunch and eat at my desk. (I know, I know it’s not ideal – sometimes it just has to be done.) Lately this has consisted of something cooked as my main course (like this Harvest Bean and Vegetable Soup which I prepared on the weekend in a big batch to last all week), a bag of raw veggies, and an apple. I’m pretty sure my co-workers could attest that the latter 2 items are included almost every day and yet I still don’t get bored of them. As I’ve said before, I’m a creature of habit and I like my fruit and veggies!
If nothing urgent is on my list of to-do’s or the afternoon, I’ll read articles about marketing automation, social media, and other industry-related news that interests me. I love doing this because it helps me not only with my projects at work, but also with the blog. Much of what I learn that applies to my full-time job is very relevant to my little side business as a blogger and health coach, and it’s nice to be able to test out the concepts in both roles. I probably sound like a huge nerd saying all this, but it’s true. I’d estimate that I’ve become at least 600% more geeky at my current job than I was when I started last June.
Workin’, workin’, and workin’ some more, doing the same sorts of things I did in the morning. My prime time energy-wise is in the morning, but eating clean definitely helps me to avoid the mid-afternoon crashes that are so common in office environments. Ever been out for a sushi lunch with your co-workers, only to come back to the office and want to curl up under your desk for a nap? Don’t get me wrong, I love sushi but it’s just not the best lunch option when you’r required to be productive during the afternoon! I’m typically out of the office between 5 and 5:30, ready to decompress and switch off my work brain for a while.
Depending on the night, I might meet up with a friend for tea and a good chat, or get together with a group of girls that I used to work with for dinner. Both are some of my favourite things to do after a busy day at the office because they force me to either take my mind off of work completely, or vocalize any sort of frustrations, worries, or issues I just need to get out. I’m extremely fortunate to have some absolutely amazing friends, many of whom make me laugh really hard, and that’s always a good thing to do, no matter what time of day.
Some nights I’ve got health coaching clients scheduled after work, and in this case you’ll find me in front of my laptop at home on Skype calls. Just like socializing with friends, I love spending my time doing this because it completely takes my mind off work and forces me to switch gears. I love hearing about the progress my clients are making and helping them work towards a healthier lifestyle, and the individuals that I’m coaching right now are doing so well – I’m so proud of them!
This is dinner time, and while I’m cooking I usually listen to yet another podcast, this time a health and fitness-related one. Again, this helps my work brain switch off. If I don’t already have a big-batch meal in the fridge prepared to eat, I’ll throw together something like a salad with a bunch of cooked veggies and some sort of protein source on top of greens, or quickly make a stir fry using frozen vegetables because they don’t need any chopping. I buy huge bags of them from Costco (among other great things conducive to clean eating) and simply let the vegetables steam or boil while I’m packing my lunch for the next day. As most of you know, I’m a big fan of Sunday meal prep so making my lunch for work means grabbing a container out of the fridge (like a soup, chili, or salad), putting some raw veggies in a Ziploc bag, and washing an apple. Done and done, and by this time, my veggies have nearly thawed and they’re ready for the wok.
I wish I could say that I spend this time curled up on the couch with a book or doing something that doesn’t involve a computer, but that’s not normally the case. More often than not, I’m catching up on more emails, developing recipes for upcoming posts, preparing resources for my health coaching clients, and taking care of any other tasks left on my to-do list from the morning like paying bills and tidying up. Staying off of Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter is key during this hour, because as soon as I log into one of them, the time slips away and before I know it, it’s 8:30 and I’ve done nothing. Not cool!
By now, I’ve been up for 16.5 hours and I’m ready for bed. Yes, at 8:30. Call me a granny if you like – I take a lot of pride in my early bed time! Before crawling under the covers though, I pack up my gym bag with everything needed to do it all again tomorrow, do the typical makeup scrub-off, and occasionally foam roll if I feel a lot of tension in my body.
On an ideal night, lights are out by 9 and I’m usually asleep within 15 minutes. This allows me 7 hours of shut eye per night, and although 8 would probably be more ideal, my brain just seems to wake up at 4am again on its own.
So that’s it! Of course, every day is different but this describes a typical weekday. I’d really love to hear about how you make the most of your time while still keeping things in balance, so tell me…
- What are some of your best tricks for being productive?
- Where do you feel you still struggle to get things done? Is it a particular time of day, a type of task, or something else?