Between two jobs and making time to stay fit, this fitness writer's schedule is totally packed. Learn how she fits it all in.

By Julia Malacoff
March 17, 2020

To say I'm busy would be, um...an understatement. Between running my own writing and editing business, being a personal trainer, taking care of my two adorable dogs, and trying to be a good friend, daughter, and wife, things can get, well, a little hectic.

Over the years, I've developed some tried-and-true strategies to fit as much as possible into my day without feeling crazy stressed or overloaded. Here's how I remain on track, stay active, and make the most of every day.

I get challenging work done during my most productive time.

Most people have a time of day when it's easiest for them to focus. Mine is in the early morning while I have a cup (or three) of coffee. That's why I always block the first few hours of my day for my most difficult tasks. (FYI, you can totally trick yourself into becoming a morning person if you're not already.)

I feel so much better knowing that the tough stuff is out of the way by the time I break for lunch. Granted, I work for myself, so I can create and stick to my own schedule. But, I think there's something to be said for knowing what time of day you're most productive, and scheduling all your hardest, most attention-draining work into that window.

I make healthy eating foolproof.

Next up, I usually grab some breakfast. As a nutrition and fitness buff, eating well is super important to me. (Here's exactly how I stay fueled throughout the day.)

But like most people, I don't have much time to cook during the week. That's why I spend a few hours on Sundays meal prepping. I usually make overnight protein oats for breakfast, a salad or veggie-packed casserole dish for lunch, and some omelette muffins or energy balls for snacks.

I also like to keep grab-and-go options on hand in case I need to eat on the run, which TBH, happens more than I'd like to admit. BOOST Women's is a quick, easy option with a ton of nutrition. Otherwise, I opt for fruit with a packet of nut butter.

I take regular breaks.

Working straight through the day without any breaks just *doesn't* work for me, especially since my jobs require A. intense concentration and B. major personal connection. (You can't be a very good trainer if you're not paying attention to your client!)

One of the most effective breaks during my day is when I hit the gym myself. After a quick 10-minute bike ride to the gym, I spend 45 minutes to an hour sweating it out, depending on how much time I have. This really gives my brain the break it needs to reset and refocus for the afternoon. Afterward, I grab my meal-prepped lunch and get back to work.

I track my time.

In the early afternoon, I usually get back to work writing and editing. One of my favorite ways to stay productive—I even log any mid-afternoon slumps—is to keep a time diary. I use an app called Toggl, but you can do it with an old-fashioned pen and paper, too.

Keeping track of how I spend my time makes it really easy to look back and say, "I felt really busy yesterday, but I spent a total of two hours scrolling through Instagram. If I stop doing that, I'll probably feel less of a time crunch."

I'm picky about when I multitask.

I usually don't let myself multitask until late afternoon or evening. You might be thinking, "What's wrong with multitasking?!" Look, if you're super busy, there are going to be times when you need to do more than one thing at a time. And you should!

But research shows that multitasking, particularly multitasking with various forms of media and technology, actually makes it harder to minimize distractions. So for tasks that require a lot of attention, I make sure to get the most bang for my buck by doing only one thing at a time. I know, easier said than done. But this way, I'm able to get more accomplished over the course of the day. An email that would take me 15 multi-tasking minutes to write ends up taking less than five. Those little time savings add up!

On the other hand, if I'm doing something that doesn't require a ton of concentration, like walking my dogs—which I usually do right when I wake up or in the late afternoon—I might do more than one thing at once, like talk to my parents or friends on the phone. I also love to use this time to decompress and catch up on podcasts.

I set boundaries so I can recover.

At the end of the workday, which for me is usually around 7 p.m., I try my best to set aside anything work-related and focus on IRL interactions only. Let's be real: As a self-employed person, it's not always possible. But it's important to set some boundaries between work and the rest of your life.

My bare minimum? No cell phone at dinner. That way, I can play with my dogs and have meaningful convos with my husband that aren't peppered with the inevitable newsfeed-induced, "Sorry, what did you say?!" And I try to keep that going right up until bedtime.

That way, I'm well-rested enough to do it all again tomorrow.

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