This past year has been an amazing year of growth and change for me. It left me realizing I had to find a way to optimize my life.
In one year, I became a mom, I moved to support my fiancé's career and to get our family into a better place financially. I left my academic practice in New York and joined a private practice. Moving to a new city with a newborn in tow means leaving all your friends behind. Meeting new friends as a new mom is challenging.
I’ve learned a lot about myself. For one thing, I’ve learned to be honest with myself. I’ve also learned that I can’t do everything. Being a mom, a physician, running the household, and trying to run a side business – well that’s more than enough to make anyone go a little crazy.
I spent a lot of time and trial and error trying to optimize my life. One mantra I really took to heart is that time is our most precious resource. It truly is.
Time Is Our Most Precious Resource
How I Optimize My Life
So I’d like to share my 5 life hacks and tips I’ve implemented to optimize my life so that I am freed up to spend time where I want.
# 1. Outsource _________ .
I love to cook. However, in the immediate postpartum and beyond, I found that I really couldn’t find time to cook. In fact, I found it it quite stressful to think about meal planning. I went through several iterations of how to get help in this area initially. Truthfully, I felt a little guilty for not wanting to cook for my family (and I know how to cook so it wasn't a skill issue).
I had to give myself permission to spend on something that would make my life easier. It may not be forever.
My mother took care of me and baby Jack until he was six and half months old. Picture home cooked Korean food every day while I could focus on breastfeeding and recovering from childbirth. Once that ended and I was back at work, I found it challenging to feed myself and my fiancé good food. I initially used a prepared meal service that cooked all the food and delivered it. I would just need to heat them up in the oven or microwave. It was not the cheapest option but it filled a need, so we did that for a month or two.
When I felt that I could devote more time to this area I then turned to meal planning. We have an instant pot. In case you’re not familiar – how could you not know about this already? – it is an electric pressure cooker. You can make “dump and cook” meals. I still found it challenging to actually plan meals for the week and finish up all the food we purchased. You can only have so many taco nights ….
I ran out of steam in the meal planning area. Our current situation is that we now subscribe to a meal prep service such as Sun Basket and Marley Spoon (our current favorites). We usually choose the paleo-like options and get 3 meal kits a week. This combined with hack #2 below has been a killer combination for us.
# 2. Hire A Part-Time Wife
Why do women physician moms think they have do everything? Most of us work full time in our demanding jobs as physicians then come home to immediately transition to being mom and housewife. Combine that with a maybe not so equal partner (in terms of division of labor)- this is surely a recipe for lots of unhappiness. Thankfully, Matt likes to cook and do laundry (!). But the truth of the matter is we both work, so this is an area that we could use some help.
We have a cleaning service that comes every two weeks to do a thorough cleaning of our apartment. That was a no brainer.
But the best hack I have found to date in this area is who I called my part-time wife. She is a part-time nanny for another local physician mom. She comes to our place 2 to 3 times a week. When she comes by, she organizes & tidies up (puts away all of Jack's toys, folds blankets), unloads the dishwasher, wipes down counter tops, removes garbage & boxes, waters plants, and does tasks like get the coffee pot ready for the next morning. Additionally, she’ll do the laundry and fold it and put it away. Magic.
We come home to a clean and tidy home. It is mentally calming and relaxing to come home to this!
# 3. Take Care Of Your Body
Like many moms, I gained a little too much weight while I was pregnant. And my body was a bit of a wreck after childbirth. It was also in the middle of northeast winter when Jack was a newborn. I have a gym downstairs in my building. But I know myself and know that I work best in a class where someone is literally telling me what to do. Previously, I used to work out at Orange Theory in New York – when it was across the street.
I hired a personal trainer. I worked with him 1-2 times a week over several months. Eventually, I got back my strength and core training with Mike. Hiring Mike was probably one of the best decisions I ever made for myself. (And if you’re in the Philly area you should definitely look him up!).
# 4. Clear Your Mind
I don't know about you, but my mind is always buzzing with ideas and thoughts. And my to do list. And that patient I saw yesterday. It's enough to drive most people mad.
I started using Headspace to start my day. It's a phone app that walks you through a guided meditation. Also, I started using Asana to organize my business and my personal life. Think bullet journal in a digital format. I tried using a traditional bullet journal but it just didn't work for me.
# 5. Invest in YOU
And finally, my latest and what I consider my best gift to myself is working with a coach. Life coaches work with you to remove the barriers to your best authentic self. Our dreams and reality are limited by our thoughts. I guess you could call Sunny my thought coach. She's also my business coach. She points out when my thoughts aren’t serving me and encourages me to transform them into something that will call me into action. My first few calls with her were all about me feeling completely overwhelmed with everything on my plate. I mean there’s just no time to do all the things I want to do and that’s just the truth!
Well clearly it's not. It's just a thought. She doesn't let me indulge in thoughts that don't serve me. Although sometimes I really want to.
Final Thoughts on How I Optimize My Life
Using these five hacks has really helped me optimize my life despite all of the new challenges and commitments I've taken on. As time changes, I know that I'll continue to rely on these same strategies and come up with new ones. If you find yourself looking to get more from your day, week, and month, try out one of these tips today.
What life hack or tip have you implemented to free up your free time? Comment below!
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