As the FFL Mantra goes, you have as many hours in a day as Nikki Haley, Dana Perino, and Elise Stefanik – it’s time to use them wisely! Between time spent at school or work, catching up with family, enjoying your hobbies, commuting, getting ready for the day, staying politically active, and relaxing, you likely have many commitments and responsibilities that leave you wishing for an extra hour (or two or three) each day. While that may not be possible, these small changes and “life hacks” will help you make the most of the time you do have.

Keep your calendar and to-do list in ONE place.

Learn from my mistakes: It is NOT helpful to have some important dates written in that aesthetically pleasing Lily Pulitzer planner, while listing others in your Google Calendar, all while your work calendar is on Outlook and your To-Do List is scattered between a sticky note on your desk, your Notes app, and your refrigerator. It doesn’t work! And, if you’re like me, you’ll end up forgetting a deadline or event because you didn’t check the right calendar, or you’ll waste valuable time trying to figure out what you need to do. Personally, I prefer using my Notes app exclusively. I have a Note titled “To-Do” where I first list out tasks I repeat daily (like reading a newsletter for work), then tasks that I need to do but don’t have a specific deadline for, tasks I need to seek clarification on, and then all of my deadlines (which also functions as my calendar). I write out every single date, leaving space to add my schedule for, and any deadlines that fall on, the particular day. I’ve seen other well-organized ladies use only Google Calendar or write everything down in a planner.

Determine your sleep cycle and stick to it.

When I was in school, I always managed to get 8 hours of sleep. I knew I needed it to function. However, I would often wake up feeling very tired, slamming the snooze button as Taylor Swift music blared through my room. Learning about sleep cycles solved my problem entirely (except for the Taylor Swift addiction. Sorry, mom and dad). Sometimes, it’s not the amount of sleep you got that’s leaving you feeling tired, but it’s the sleep cycle you were in when your alarm went off. Waking up in the middle of deep sleep is much more difficult than naturally waking up after a sleep cycle. So, many sleep cycle calculators (easily available online) can tell you the best times to go to sleep and wake up based on your schedule, thus minimizing sleep cycle interruptions and leading you to feel better in the morning. Plus, you’ll likely be able to avoid that half hour of “sleeping but not sleeping” between hitting the snooze button.

Set alarms for activities you tend to “lose track of time” doing.

Whether it’s talking on the phone with a friend, watching TikToks, binging Netflix, or even more “productive” tasks like reading the news, it’s easy to unknowingly spend an excess of time on some tasks. That’s not to say you should eliminate these aspects of your life or stop them completely at the instant the alarm goes off – that won’t always be best for your productivity! Setting these reminders will allow you to reflect on your time and realize that some adjustments may need to be made. When I began doing this, I found that I dedicated far too much time to perfecting my writing for routine work assignments. The quality and improvement of my writing is, of course, important, but spending hours on one press release is unnecessary and unhelpful.

Anticipate distractions so you can focus on one task at a time.

Picture yourself trying to practice a speech or prepare a presentation. While you’re doing that, you see a text from your friend about plans for the weekend, which you pause to answer. Then, a coworker walks by and poses that question she’s been “meaning to ask you,” leading to a 15-minute side bar. A Twitter notification linked to a breaking news article pops up on your computer, so you read the piece and four others on the website homepage. By the time you finish reading, it’s time for your lunch break. Your day is now half over, and you begin to stress about how much work you have left. Making the most of your day means deciding which distractions are and aren’t absolutely necessary. I like to schedule a set amount of time (usually 10 minutes every hour) to respond to any personal texts or calls I’ve accumulated, take a quick look at the news, refill my water, and complete any other non-urgent tasks at work. If you see an email or a coworker stops you to talk, evaluate whether it’s a conversation that needs to take place immediately, at a scheduled time, or can wait. These small changes can make a big difference.

Spend as much time reading as you do scrolling through social media.

Apple’s addition of the ScreenTime feature was transformative for me – I couldn’t believe how much time I wasted scrolling aimlessly through Instagram and other social media outlets. To limit my time on these apps, I challenged myself to read for the same amount of time. Now, not only am I a better writer who’s more knowledgeable about current events, but I’m also much happier without constantly viewing others’ picture perfect lives. It’s truly a win-win!

Best of luck on your journey to even more productivity!

Madison S