This shop sharing 7 tips to prioritize has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FindYourFoodie #CollectiveBias
7 tips to prioritize your life and reduce stress, Easy ideas that don't cost anything but help increase productivity and reduce stress.

It’s summertime, the time to relax and enjoy the nice weather, right? Head out on vacation or enjoy the local pool, no matter you’re doing, life slows down. Or not. At least, if you live my life, nothing slows down during summer. Here, I have just as much to do, but now I have three people at home wanting my attention nonstop.

Ok, nonstop may be an exaggeration, but it feels like nonstop some days. Combine that with work and the time I do want to spend with my family, and I need tips to prioritize my life more. Tips to prioritize my life? Yep. I’m the one who forgets to eat. My husband laughs at me, but it’st true. I get so focused on work or another task that I don’t look up for hours, finally realizing that I’m starving (and cranky and not productive and the list goes on).

This applies to more than just food, of course. I don’t drink as much water as I should (or want to, for that matter). I miss classes at the gym. I sit at my computer far longer than I should. Life stresses me out when I try to accomplish too much. My to do list is often more than any reasonable person can or should accomplish during a single day.

Do you know what this does to me? Ok, you probably do because you probably do at least some of these things yourself, right? It’s soul crushing. It messes with your health. It’s just all around bad. I decided to switch things up, and for the past couple weeks, this has been my focus. Following my own tips to prioritize my day makes a big difference in so many areas.

The good news? It doesn’t have a to cost a ton of money to accomplish. It’s more about planning and thinking in advance. Eating is my biggest issue, I’ll admit. While I love food, if I don’t have food readily available, I often feel like it’s too much time and effort to prep. That’s an awful reason to skip a meal. But easy and free tips to prioritize yourself in your own life? I’m in!

Needless to say, that’s why I stocked up on some LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE entrees. I can pop them in the microwave while I refill my water bottle and actually eat some lunch and recharge at the same time. I love the organic ingredient options (you know me) and no GMOs  Lean Cuisine offers with these, and the flavor in the LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Cheese & Fire-Roasted Chile Tamale, LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Thai-Style Ginger Beef, LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Chicken Tikka Masala, and LEAN CUISINE® MARKETPLACE Southwest-Style Potato Bake are just what I need to ensure I reach for them again and again. No matter my mood, I have options!

Lean Cuisine Limited edition Marketplace flavors

These are limited edition flavors, so I stocked up when I was at Walmart to grab some ribbon for my water bottle trick. I love that the package is so distinctive to catch my eye as I’m reaching to grab something I know will provide the protein packed options I need.

Lean Cuisine Entrees at Walmart

This is about more than just my lunch, however. I’ve got tips to prioritize yourself beyond that.

Lean Cuisine Marketplace Chicken Tikka Masala entree

7 Tips To Prioritize Yourself and Health (even when you’re super busy)

Create a reasonable to do list.

Here’s the thing. I want to do it all. I want to get it all done. I work, I have kids, they have activities, I’m a PTO president, I blog, I have errands to run, my cat needs twice a day meds, I want to get to the gym… it all adds up. I know you feel me because this is not unusual. This is simply life these days. My to do list could be a mile long, but that stresses me out.

To do notebook to carry with you everywhere to jot down ideas

Instead, I sit down and figure out what I will accomplish each day from my overall to do list and write that on my daily to do list. I ensure I’m being reasonable because some days I can get 25 things done, some days I can get five done. Do I have a 2 hour meeting in the middle of the day? Am I at a gymnastics meet for 7 hours? That impacts what and how many items I add to my list. You know yourself – be smart about it!

Take breaks.

Technology is great, but my day no longer consists of moving from place to place. With my computer (or phone or tablet), I could literally sit in one place all day long. I can work from here, chat with friends, and more. With neverending email, my to do list could get done without ever standing up. And too often, I sit too long. Unfortunately, that has a twofold impact. First, it’s bad for my health and my eyes to stare at screens all day without a break. Second, if I sit for too long, my productivity starts to suffer. A two minute movement break makes a huge difference. I set my computer to pop up with a reminder every 25 minutes (I go with the Pomodoro technique) to take a break for 5 minutes. Science has proven that breaks increase productivity.

The human body needs movement. My five minute breaks have to get me up and moving. This is the perfect time to refill my water bottle or flip a load of laundry in the basement. I can make a quick phone call and walk around my living room while I do so. If I truly want a break to do nothing, I’ll go walk or jog around the block. When I get back, it’s amazing how much more focused an energized I am! There are plenty of free tools online, so choose your favorite.

Take a break software

Schedule lunch and gym time into your calendar.

It sounds silly. That said, if I don’t block off time to make it to the gym, I won’t. I’m a class girl, and if I’m not out the door at 9:28 for my 9:45 class, I skip the gym entirely because I don’t want to walk in 10 or 15 minutes late. When I block that time out in my schedule (and add it to my to do list), I go. The same holds true for lunch. If I don’t have a calendar reminder that it’s time to eat lunch, it can be 2pm before I realize I missed it.

This is another place technology helps. I love my online calendar. I share it with my husband, and we can see where everyone in the family needs to be at any time. It ensures we don’t book conflicts (oops!), and we can access it no matter where we are. The calendar I use allows me to choose whether to have reminders for individual events and how soon before the event to send the reminder. When I have a pop up one minute before I scheduled lunch, I actually remember to do it. And I don’t feel guilty because I built that time into my day.

Give yourself permission to enjoy your food. 

So you’re eating lunch. That’s just a piece of it. Lunch doesn’t have to be a two hour affair, but don’t sit at your desk and eat while you’re working. That defeats the purpose of your lunch break. Even twenty minutes allows you to focus on your food and enjoy it. Do you truly taste what you’re eating when you’re focused on your screen? Put away the laptop, the tablet, and the phone. Since it’s summer, I’ll often take my lunch and sit on my front porch to enjoy it and the weather. I enjoy my food, and I tend to stay fuller for longer because my brain and stomach are in sync about what I ate.

Enjoy your meal outside with no distractions

My Lean Cuisine Chicken Tikka Masala tastes great. I savored each bite, and my lunch made my happy. Happy me always grows my productivity. It was pretty to look at and pretty to enjoy. Go ahead. Use a plate. Don’t just eat from a container. We eat with our eyes as much as we do our stomachs.

Set a bedtime.

I know, I know. You aren’t ten. Or twelve. Or four. But set a bedtime for yourself. Stop working at least an hour before that point. It can wait. You know your circadian rhythm best, so you know if you work best in the morning and need an early bedtime or are a night owl and work best from 9-11pm (but still get enough hours of sleep). When you work too late and too long, productivity suffers. So does your accuracy. Stop work an hour before bed. It’ll still be there tomorrow, I promise. And if is a “have to do” that didn’t get done, you know you need to adjust your to do list for the next day. You might even have to do what’s hardest for me and start to say no.

If you can stop work more than an hour before bedtime, that’s even better. That gives you the time you need to rest and recharge. Watch your favorite tv show, or read a book. Play a game with your family. But when you’ve turned off work, turn it off. Don’t keep thinking about it or checking in on your phone.

I feel your pain though. It’s so easy for me to keep working until 11pm or later because… why not? Except the why is my health and sanity and happiness and stress level and more. When I follow my tips for productivity, I get more done, and I’m happier. That’s the end game, right?

Turn off the distractions.

I know we all say we can multi-task, but we’re lying to ourselves. When the tv is on in the background, you aren’t doing your highest quality work. When you have Facebook open and notifications popping up nonstop, do you truly ignore them? Close out all windows on your computer other than the one(s) you absolutely need for the task at hand. That five minute break time? That’s when you can go check Facebook. Your drop dead stop work time that you set up? Once you’re done working, that’s when you catch up on your favorite shows. It’s your reward for a hard day’s work.

Turn Off the TV

And drink your water!

I like water. I drink a lot of water. But when I’m focused on something else, I forget to drink. I neglect the need to refill my water bottle because “I’ll do it later” (and we all know when later is). I’ve read so many articles on the propensity of Americans to be dehydrated, and that leads to so many issues. It can lead to chronic fatigue (because being tired will help your productivity, right?), high blood pressure (not enough water means your blood gets thicker and has a harder time flowing), weight gain (your body needs water for energy in cells and to metabolize fat), and so many more issues. I want to drink more water, but I don’t always remember how much I’ve drunk – or haven’t – when I have a busy day.

I know people talk about putting rubber bands on their water bottles, but that doesn’t work for me. I never remember what the bands are for, and I may or may not “borrow” them for other projects and forget to return them. Instead, I made my own water bottle tracker from items I already had around the house (and ones I bet you do, too!) that easily moves from one water bottle to the next when it’s time to wash and swap. The two colors means it’s easy for me to remember how much I’ve drunk, too.

How To Create a Reusable Water Tracker

All you need is some ribbon in two colors and buttons. I chose yellow and green ribbon for “not there yet” and “mission accomplished” symbols, but choose what’s meaningful for you that you have on hand. I picked five “extra” buttons from clothes I’ve bought over the years. I knew one day they’d come in handy – I just didn’t know when! Because my water bottles tend to be 24 ounce bottles, I chose three large buttons (3×24=72 ounces of water a day) and two smaller buttons (for the days I drink “bonus” water).

Items needed to make water tracker 2

Cut your ribbon into pieces. My green ribbon I cut about four inches and my yellow ribbon about 5 (to ensure that I had room to cut and fraying ends from stringing the buttons).

Cut ribbon for water tracker

Tie the ends together in the loop knot like you use to close a grocery produce bag at the store. Tie this knot as close to the end as you can and pull it tight. Trim off any excess. Thread the buttons onto your “not there yet” color, with any small buttons first and larger buttons after. If your ribbon frays, snip off the frayed end.

String buttons on ribbon to track water consumption

Once you string your buttons, add a dab of strong glue. Place the second color over the dot of glue to make a circle and press together. Ensure both ends of the ribbon are glued down so the buttons sliding won’t split the ribbons.

Add glue to seal ribbon circle for water consumption tracker

Place the ribbon over your water bottle. As you drink, move a button from “not there yet” to “mission accomplished.” At the end of the day, return all buttons to the “not there yet side” and prep for the next day, knowing you’ll be fully hydrated and ready to face the day!

Drape water tracking over bottle daily

What are your best tips to prioritize your day?



  • Allison Waken

    These are SUCH great tips! I love making time to enjoy your lunch because I’m sure so many of us just work right through it! [client]

    • Michelle

      Oh I know I’m not the only one who works through lunch – but I lived in Europe long enough to get the need to stop and savor your food pounded into me 😉 I try, but I’ll readily admit that I don’t always succeed with this myself.

  • Nikki

    I love the water tracker! That is such a cute idea! I feel the same way, I can get totally immersed in work and forget about taking care of myself. These are great tips for staying healthy, balanced, and productive.

    • Michelle

      We’re moms… don’t we all forget to take care of ourselves? The water tracker has been a huge help for me because I actually remember what it means… and I’m competitive enough that I’m going to get them all moved over by the end of the day!

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