Days are Shorter: How to Make Up for Lost Time

runner silhouetteEven though there are always 24 hours in a day, when the actual amount of daylight changes, it can have a strange effect on how we feel and how we manage our time.

If your energy starts to wane at this time of year, you’re not alone! But you can make up for “lost time” by saving steps, making simple changes, and renewing motivation.

Save Steps to Save Time

When it gets dark outside sooner in the evening, it sends a signal that the workday is over and our hustle should be shutting down. Problem is, we might not be done yet— we still need to finish the dinner dishes, check the backpacks or head to the gym.

Three straightforward strategies for getting the evening to-dos accomplished with less wasted energy are staying organized, preparing, and preventing. Mastering these lets you finish up what you intend before you feel burned out. Pick one strategy you can act on this week and watch how it helps you save steps so you don’t feel behind:

  1. Stay organized by clearing clutter. Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home recommends performing a “clutter bust” on a regular basis. Grab a laundry basket, head to a main room, and pick up every single thing that does not belong in there. Put it all away, or toss it or give it away. Repeat often. No more searching for the “lost” keys behind the books under the socks that don’t belong in the family room.
  2. Prepare for the most challenging part of your day when it’s no big deal. For example, pack your gym back when you are folding laundry—just keep the bag nearby so when clean socks and towels are ready, in they go. Or, pack your lunch when you’re cleaning up dinner and need to use the leftovers anyway.
  3. Prevent a build-up of projects and longer/larger tasks by addressing things at the ¾ point. For example, time-management guru David Allen suggests going through your files when they are ¾ full to get rid of out-of-date and unneeded documents. This can also apply to your inbox…or your laundry hampers. Set a lower limit and don’t reach it. You’ll be able to work at a manageable pace even when shorter on time—even if something unexpected arises.

Make Time to Charge Up

For many people, less sunlight and fresh air can trigger feelings of lethargy, increased appetite or sleepiness. A small percentage of the population is affected by a seasonal disorder which causes symptoms of depression. Many others simply feel “in a rut.”

One of the best things you can do to combat negative effects of shorter days is to make more time for what’s missing—fresh air and sunlight! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is twice as polluted as outdoor air. So even when the weather turns cooler, there is tremendous benefit to getting into bright light and escaping stale indoors by taking a nice brisk walk.

Other simple suggestions:

  • Get up ten minutes earlier to enjoy some quiet time while your car and your body warms up
  • Now that you keep your gym bag packed (see 2. above), pack a tasty recovery snack and good music, too, so you enjoy all the moments related to your workout
  • Delegate or share one more task daily at work or at home. Everyone benefits at the end of the day when the group makes the most of their time together!

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