When life gets busy every minute counts, but that needn’t mean racing around like a headless chicken. Try working smarter – not harder – to free up precious time for doing the things you want to do in the lead up to the season’s festivities. By planning ahead, ringfencing time for self-care and making use of smart, multi-tasking products you really can tick off your to-do list in manageable 10-minute chunks, leaving plenty of time for all those parties. We asked some of our favourite busy women how…
Get to grips with your day
“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do,” says Hannah Martin, business coach and founder of talentedladiesclub.com, a community helping women unlock their potential. “If you were to stand at the foot of Everest peering up, climbing it would seem impossible.”
Take the bull by the horns and start small, Hannah suggests: “Make a list of everything you need to get done, then reorder the list with the most important thing at the top – this is your base camp. Work out how long each will take and group similar tasks together as you’ll work more efficiently when you’re in flow, then book into time slots throughout the day, adjusting your goals to the next camp as you go. By allocating set amounts of time with clear tasks, you’ll work more quickly and will have a satisfying sense of achievement as you tick the tasks off.”
Find your calm
Nobody needs to meditate more than those who think they are too busy to meditate, and clawing time from your day for mindfulness can quiet brain noise and make you feel more able to manage your day. All you need is somewhere comfortable to sit, says Tamara Levitt, head of mindfulness at Calm. “Decide on the best time of day to meditate and try to practice at that same time; starting the day with meditation sets the intention to be mindful, while others prefer the end of the day, but regularity is key.”
We like the Calm meditation app which has a range of guided meditations and masterclasses under 10 minutes so you can practise de-stressing on the train commute, at your desk or, for a quick screen-time break – just remember to put your phone on silent. Start with the ‘7 days of meditation’ series to help combat anxiety, aid sleep, drive self-esteem and improve focus and don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s hard to concentrate at first. “Our minds are used to being busy. When we stop to meditate we often discover just how active our mind is, so be patient,” Tamara says.
Work it out
Spending hours at the gym is often inefficient, so condense your workout into short sharp blasts that leave you feeling ready to take on the day with time to spare. Try this 10-minute workout from Olympic gold medallist and busy mum Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, instead of pounding the treadmill:
“Everyone hates burpees, but they’re probably the best bodyweight exercise. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and place your hands on the floor. Kick your legs out behind you and lower your body to the ground, bending at the elbows then quickly push back up and hop your legs back under your body. Jump up and land with your knees slightly bent.”
“Next, it’s the plank side crunch for toning abs and strengthening arms, back and core. Start in basic plank (don’t let your bottom pop up!). Contract your abs and slowly swing your thigh out, bringing your knee towards your elbow on the same side. Bring your knee back towards the starting position, then alternate.”
“Ab scissors work the hip flexors and stomach muscles: Lay on your back with your arms extended to the sides, palms down. With a slight bend at your knees, lift your legs so that your heels are six inches off the ground. Lift your left leg up 45 degrees, while your right leg is lowered until the heel is two to three inches from the ground then switch.”
“My Jennis jump and lunge is great for explosive power and requires some coordination, but once you’re in the rhythm you’ll get really into it. Start standing, then take one leg back to a lunge position. Fire that back leg up to a hopping position, pulling through the opposite arm to knee. Land on both feet with slightly bent knees, then repeat with the opposite leg, alternating.”
“Sit ups and reach strengthen the upper body. Make sure movement is coming from your core, not the neck. Reach through the full sit up movement with straight arms, right into your fingertips.”
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds with 10 seconds rest between, then rest for one minute and repeat the set.
Face the world
When life gets stressful, go into battle with your game face on – and we don’t mean a hasty swipe of mascara on the way to work. We asked top make-up artist, Viorela Coman who has worked with Chanel, Burberry and Heidi Klein, to come up with a super-speedy skincare and make-up routine that can be done in 10-minutes flat:
She says: “Start with a great make-up remover, like Rodial Micellar Cleansing Water, to remove any trace of dirt, pollution and make-up. Then use a few spritzes of prep spray to help your skin absorb all the goodness from the upcoming moisturiser (Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist is one of my faves). If you have normal skin use a lightweight moisturiser, or consider gel-based for combination skin. Let that sink in and add in SPF30.”
“Use a primer to create a long-lasting base for your make-up. Apply a BB cream or foundation by layering and buffing with a brush then use a minute to apply contour to cheekbones and give structure – use in the eye creases to bring out your eyes, while skipping the whole eyeshadow application. Apply mascara in a zig-zag motion from roots up to enhance eyes and don’t worry if you smudge while hurrying – leave it to dry then simply scrape it off.
Lips and cheeks will take one minute: “Use a semi-matte creamy lipstick similar to your natural shade. Dab a bit on the apples of your cheeks to add some colour in instead of powder blusher. Finish by setting your T-zone with translucent powder and then spritz setting spray to keep in place.”
Tidy house, tidy mind
“It’s hard to see the wood for the trees when household tasks start piling up, but Hannah Martin suggests dealing with chores in a business-like manner. She says, “The idea of cleaning the whole house is depressingly daunting, so give up on that idea and tackle it in chunks instead.”
“Create a list of things you can get done in 10-minutes, then allocate them to each day. You might decide you can strip a bed, remake it and put the bedding in the washing machine in 10 minutes. To make the task more enjoyable, listen to a podcast while you work. It will make time fly and you might even look forward to your blitzes.”
Ready, steady, cook!
“In an ideal world we’d have meal-prepped our hearts out on Sunday, but a lack of foresight needn’t mean reaching for a ready meal. Make sure your cupboards are stocked with shortcuts, like cooked grains and you’ll have a scratch-cooked meal in minutes. We like Sophie Michell’s 10-minute recipe for two, Puy Tabbouleh with Grilled Halloumi and Preserved Lemons: mix a pouch of Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Puy Lentils with two diced ripe tomatoes, a bunch of finely chopped parsley, half a teaspoon of sumac, 50ml extra virgin olive oil, the juice of one lemon and 100g of deseeded, diced preserved lemon. Slice 250g of halloumi and pan fry on a high heat for three minutes each side and serve on top of the salad.