There are two types of people; those with meticulously curated diaries full of bespoke post-its and colour-coordinated appointment notes, and then there are the disorganised others. For years I drifted aimlessly in the latter camp, but writing this blog forced me to upgrade my ‘planning skills’ alot, and I’ve learned a few things along the way, which I’m sharing in this post! If organisation doesn’t come naturally to you and you find yourself overwhelmed when considering the wiry tangle of chaotic strands that make up life – don’t panic, it can be done and hopefully these tips will help you! As I’ve seen with Personal Training clients over the years, organisation will categorically help you to succeed in reaching your fitness goals. Click MORE to see how I choose to approach organisation, with my top 5 tips!
When it comes to goal setting, a seemingly overwhelming number of jigsaw pieces need to come together, aside from having a structured realistic plan you need a whole lot of devoted discipline, as well a balanced approach to eating well (as well as hydrating, an effective and achievable exercise regime, plenty of sleep (ideally between 7 and 9 hours, though it very much depends on the person) and organisation!
A few years ago my life consisted of nutrition, fitness and more fitness, both in work and privately. Now it involves regularly posting on F.O.T, an infinite inbox, wrestling with legal documentation, pitch meetings, working as a personal trainer, and writing my first ever book! Given the proliferation and diversification of work, I often found myself struggling to find room to train me! To stay on top of it, I’ve had to seriously upgrade my own organisation skills to level 2.0! Here’s how I’ve approached it…
- WRITE IT DOWN!
There is no replacement for putting pen to paper as a way to formalise, memorialise, and hold to account! The digital age has us under the comfortable delusion that all is well, with our schedules stored remotely in the cloud; but they’re just as easily deleted or ignored. Actually writing down your fitness goals will help you access the result, mentally. I like to have a physical copy of my thoughts and words in my hands; I write a thought down, and often draw a little image next to it, seeing the curve of a letter, creating a pictogram to accompany it – I remember the thought better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a tech-rejecting luddite zealot by any means – I write a blog after all – but carrying a physical copy in my bag fills me with comfort, the appointment is somehow more permanent, more weighty, harder to avoid! If cancelled, I have to physically draw a line over it with a pen, one which I’ll remember, which just feels painful! On the contrary, when I put a tick next to an achievement, a small wave of fulfilled satisfaction washes over me! I don’t experience any of these feelings when I pop something into my phone, which is impersonal, utilitarian, commoditised, and takes mere seconds. The analogue, physical process is made all the more special when it goes into a statement-piece diary, my 2016 choice being this jaw-dropping Portobello diary from my friends at Smythson.
- BE S.M.A.R.T. ABOUT IT!
In many professions, my own included, people are trained to think ‘SMART’ when authoring their goals. It’s a handy little mnemonic which stands for Structured, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound; 5 components of organised goal-setting which will lead them to be more readily achieved.
– Structured – simply, when are you going to do it, piece by piece, and when will you achieve the end-game? Calculate and break down the increments, and then diarise them.
– Measurable – Think about how you’ll measure you progress, whether its an amount of weight you want to lift, the number of repetitions, distance run, intensity, speed etc, a spatial measurement you want to achieve, a weight you want to lose/gain.
i) I would always encourage clients to take notes on how they feel; how did the session go, did you feel tired, was it easy, how did your body/muscles feel the the next few days? In time, you can return to your notes, see how the you’ve grown stronger, and notice how your recovery has improved. The notes may also relate to other components, such as not eating enough or eating too much.
ii) MyFinessPal is great to keep track of your food intake, calories, macros (fats / carbs / protein) as well as helping to identify if you’re lacking anything on a regular basis.
iii) Take photos as you go along, once a week same time, same day, front, side and back. For example, first thing Friday morning before breakfast. Same lighting, same angle. Take measurements, how do you clothes fit?
– Achievable (or Actionable) – Set achievable goals; can you actually get to the gym 6 days a week – if not, diarise 2 or 3 sessions, per achievability, and then stick to it!
– Realistic – this ties in with achievable, setting realistic expectations of oneself, not expecting to observe progress within an unrealistic time frame, being sensible and balanced about your application to the cause!
– Time-bound Training – Finally what are you actually doing once you get to the gym. Plan that 1-hour of time well in advance; going back to point one – ensure it’s a structured approach. Knowing what you’re doing within the session will enable you to set a further-out time frame, over which you want to achieve your goal! For an e-Diary to complement my physical one,I use Cozi which is incredibly helpful; you can share your entire schedule or just certain appointments with gym partners, colleagues, and/or family. If everyone knows you’re training, chances are you’re going to go and train, and by planning your daily schedule ahead of time you wont have any excuse not to execute!
- SEEK SANCTUARY IN STRUCTURE!
If your headspace feels a bit disorganised, it might help to ensure your surroundings are tidy. Everything has a place, and I feel that your home is your sanctuary, a spa-like retreat into which you can escape from the unrelenting pressures of the outside world. To maintain it requires constant attention, spring cleaning all year round, ongoing de-cluttering… I get rid of stuff I don’t use or want on a weekly basis, keeping only that which I find necessary. With the resulting organisation, I find, comes improved productivity and a better adherence to my targets. Deadlines sound harsh and unwelcoming but they make your life easier. Break them down into daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals.
- FOOD FOR THOUGHT!
Write a list of foods that you constantly eat, ensuring always to have ample stock of those healthy foods. I try to avoid running out of something will preclude me from creating a favourite go-to healthy recipe. If you write the list in your diary and on the fridge, you’re more likely to remember them during those supermarket aisle brain-frazzle moments. Here’s my list;- Chickpeas and Lentils
– Quinoa and Chia seeds
– Sweet Potato
– Kale, Watercress, Spinach, Rocket, Broccoli
– Papaya, Grapefruit, Lime, Berries
– Tumeric, Ginger
– Fresh chiliPlan and ideally prep your meals too. Set aside one hour a week to plan your weekly food plan (ideally before heading to the supermarket). I like to cook a few things in bulk – some sweet potatoes, broccoli, quinoa or other foodstuff which can be refrigerated – and in so doing, give myself a time efficient, more affordable way to stay on track with healthy eating through the week. If you’re really organised you can even pop the food in meal sized portions in each container, but I understand why some might hate that idea!
- SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP!
I’ve written extensively about this but we now know that sleep deprivation makes us less productive, affects our overall wellbeing and mood, and promotes the production of stress hormones such as cortisol. Further, the sensation of tiredness leaves us craving more unhealthy foods; it’s all counterproductive to the fitness goals, so there’s one simple solution. Impose a curfew and ensure you catch your optimal amount of sleep; the amount after which you typically arise naturally, unprompted, on a weekend, feeling fully restored. For some that’s 7 hours, for others it’s 9 hours. Any more than that is likely to be impractical (and to have an adverse effect), so get to bed earlier and you’ll see the improvements in your organisational capacity with immediate effect! It helped enormously with my memory capacity too – assisted by the book ‘Moonwalking with Einstein’ – an exceptional read which helped me realise just how much of my brain I’m NOT yet using!
Hope that helps, and please remember, that’s just my own personal way of approaching the topic. Many will have their own tips and tricks too!
I WAS WEARING:
Diary: Portobello Mid-Year Diary from Smythson
Pants: Forthcoming Summer Collection knotted Leggings by Peony & Me
Top: Long-sleeve Linen Top by Peony & Me
Jacket: Papin Leather Biker Jacket by All Saints
Bag: Small size Sac De Jour by Saint Laurent