Okay first of all… every time I wear this sweater on Instagram stories I get a million questions about it. And for good reason… it’s the coziest! I love it so much. This outfit is one of my favorites as I love a good monochrome ensemble. All grey feels a little more interesting than all black?
Today I wanted to share something that has been on my mind quite a bit: the importance of protecting your time. At the end of the day, time is probably our most important resource (it’s up there with money and energy, maybe more important depending on how you prioritize). For me, living in New York and working in such a social industry, time is my most precious resource but I haven’t always treated it as such… it only got worse when I went out on my own to work for myself. Guarding/protecting my time has become a really big priority for me as I’ve gotten older, and I talked about that a little bit here with work stuff and also here when it comes to dating.
The idea for this post came to me yesterday morning on the treadmill as that’s where I tend to work out my thoughts. The first thought I had was a good one: how happy I have felt this month as I’ve been (for the most part) unapologetically putting myself first – especially when it comes to my physical and mental wellbeing. The second was a less good one… and that was the thought that a lot of people might think that maybe I’m a bit of a self important b*tch because unless someone is a part of my inner circle, I pretty much always say no to plans/meetings/press previews/events. I felt bad about that for about twenty minutes and then I got home and did some work and had a conference call with Michelle (we were talking crystals for my upcoming post SO EXCITED but that’s another story) when (completely unprompted, I hadn’t told her any of this) she said to me, “If you let other people’s opinions bother you, they’ll own you!” And that my friends, is just so true.
So anyway. About that. First of all. The only reason I have even been able to take embark upon this whole wellness challenge is because I started just saying no to pretty much everything and everyone. And I’m so much happier for it. I look at my calendar and each week maybe there are two or three events or meetings that I’m really excited or passionate about. The rest of it? Free and clear. To work. To write. To have a nice calm life. To see my friends, call my parents, go on dates… do the things that I want to do. Last night I was able to stay home and cook a healthy soup. Tonight, spontaneous dinner plans came up with two of my close girlfriends because my calendar wasn’t blocked off with a million things I thought I “had” to do. I’ve talked to my parents more, I’m seeing my actual friends more, I’m getting 8 hours of sleep every night, and I’m getting to the gym almost every day. It used to be that if you wanted to get on my calendar, you had to do so weeks and weeks in advance. I was that annoying friend.
By saying no, I’ve made room for the stuff that really matters. My close friends and family, work projects I really care about, and my health. All that stuff I listed above. It feels awesome. And if someone doesn’t like it or doesn’t get it, well… cool? I don’t care. Or I’m trying to at least care less. Work in progress.
Today I wanted to share a few tips and tricks for protecting your own time. I hope it’s helpful!!! (And I’d love your tricks if you have your own.) I’ll also say that keep in mind I’m 36. I’ve been blogging for 8 years and working for 16 years. SO, I have less of a need to constantly network. I still do it from time to time (that’s important!) but it’s different at the beginning of your career. (Though you also have more energy when you’re younger… ha!)
These tips probably are most helpful if you work for yourself, but even if you work in an office/have a boss I think they can still apply!
one // Take meetings as sparingly as possible. Try to make everything an email… from there, decide what needs to be a call. I used to get really overwhelmed by meeting requests. Everyone wants to have a meeting and I still don’t really know why! As bloggers, a big thing is that our PR contacts are always asking for meetings and catch-ups. I love seeing them, but if I said yes I would be in meetings all day and never have time to actually work, write, shoot, edit, etc. I’m a one woman operation over here and content + the site have to come first! I vented to one of my best friends about this (she’s a publicist) and she flat out laughed at me. She told me most publicists would prefer to have a call or an email but part of their job is “making friends.” So now, when I get one of those invites, I say some sort of version of, “Why don’t you tell me what you’re working on right now, and if it makes sense, let’s jump on a call.” Perfection. (For the record, I read every single email and always respond – as long as it is personally addressed to me.) I will still take meetings sparingly, but as I’m so ruthless with my calendar, it frees up time for the things I’m most excited about.
two // Implement meeting free Mondays. Or at least try to. I typically won’t have any meetings or go to events on Mondays. That way I am home all day writing and setting up my posts, emails, social media, etc. for the week. This doesn’t always happen (this past Monday I had a big shoot and an afternoon coffee) but when I do it, the week is almost always so much better… more organized, less stressful… I feel on top of things and can be proactive vs. reactive. There’s nothing worse than being up at 11pm writing the next day’s blog post. That still happens from time to time but I try to always work ahead, and my all work Mondays play a big part in that.
three // Schedule in the things that are important to you at the beginning of the week so that you won’t skip them. I really think that the reason I have been successful at the gym this month (besides being accountable to you guys) has been putting my workouts on my calendar as if they are meetings. The same thing goes for anything else that’s important to you. Maybe it’s watching The Bachelor. Maybe it’s reading. Or cooking/meal prep. Put it on your calendar and it will get done… even if it’s not technically “important.” That’s self care!! On Sunday night I make a big list of everything I need to do for the week. Then I review my calendar. And then I go into the Equinox app and put the workouts (and booking windows) into my calendar so that I a) get a reminder to book the classes I like, and b) have time blocked out to work out every day.
four // Put reminders on your calendar to call/schedule time with old friends/loved ones. I literally put calling home on my to-do list for the day so that I remember, because sometimes I get so in the weeds that I forget! Same goes for scheduling time with one of my best friends who is married with two kids on the Upper East Side. If we don’t make plans every couple weeks we will go months without seeing each other. So every two weeks I get a calendar reminder that says “Email Nicolette to make plans!”
five // If you are constantly being asked by industry peers to “pick your brain,” come up with a consulting fee. This is something I did when I first left BaubleBar and everyone wanted social media advice. For free, of course. If they want to pick your brain, that is consulting work. Of course this didn’t apply to close friends who needed help, but so many acquaintances and random business connections kept coming out of the woodwork offering to take me to coffee in exchange for help. NO. Do not do this. Tell them you’d love to help out, but that your consulting rate is $XX an hour.
six // Say no liberally, but don’t make excuses! This is a personal goal of mine this year as I always feel guilty saying no so I’ll fire off a bunch of reasons why. “I’m so sorry! I can’t take XX meeting… really busy right now! Life is crazy! I barely have time to date/see my sister! I’m so in the weeds!” There’s no need to include that information. “I’m so sorry, as much as I would love to, I’m not taking meetings right now” will suffice. I need to start taking my own advice on that one!!
What about you? Are you protective with your time? How do you avoid an overcrowded calendar? I’d love to hear your tips + tricks/suggestions in the comments.
photography by Trent Bailey.