Author: Alli Gage, 2018
As a management consultant, I am constantly going into various workplaces of different companies to improve and optimize their working conditions and processes. Even after seeing the time and money savings implementing certain processes can accomplish in a professional setting, I had never thought to apply that same way of thinking to my day-to-day life… until now.
The nature of my job can involve long days of commuting, travel and working long hours, which often lead to me coming home mentally drained and HUNGRY. I didn’t want to think about what to have for dinner and then the time it would take to execute on the plan. Like many of us, I ended up eating out several times a week. Even though I convinced myself I was making “healthier” options, I began to notice the pounds packing on and a slow decline in my overall energy and effectiveness throughout my day.
I started meal prepping my dinners when training for a competition and couldn’t believe how much easier and less stressful my evenings were! When dinners were prepped in advance I didn’t have to think about making a healthy meal after a long day or feel guilty for having take-out because the “discipline” factor was removed.
The prepped dinners were faster, cheaper and easier than take-out. Genius!
After seeing the success from prepping dinners, I decided to see what other areas of my life could be streamlined for efficiency by using the same technique.
I started with the obvious – adding meal prepping for my breakfasts, then my lunches and even the different snacks I would need for the week. Everything was measured and packed ready to go in advance.
Mastering food prep, I expanded to prepping my work clothes. Even as a minimalist, I found myself spending at least 5-10 mins thinking about an outfit for the day – and that was if everything went well. When things weren’t going so well, I could try several different outfits before leaving the house.
I applied my prepping technique and decided which clothing items I would wear in advance and hung each outfit together on a hanger in sequence – from Monday through Friday. Each morning I simply take the next hanger and it had everything I needed for that specific day – underwear, socks, belts and any accessories needed for each outfit. I planned the days for each outfit as well to ensure I had the proper clothes available for meetings, presentations and plant visits.
By now I was prepping my meals, snacks and my outfits!
What I ate and wore became almost automated and had taken the discipline factor out of these decisions, making success a lot easier and more likely. I was on a roll and feeling good!
Next, I added prepping my “to-do” list for the next day. But not any “to-do” list. A list of the small things that I could do to move towards my long-term goals.
I prioritized the list and added 3-5 specific actions I could take per day – Monday through Saturday (Sunday is my day of rest!). Having a short and manageable list saves an incredible amount of time as it allows me to hit the ground running each day instead of spending 30-60 mins or more deciding where and how to start the day.
Ensuring my to-do list has tasks that are focused around my long-term goals is crucial to ensure I am making actual progress towards said goals as opposed to merely checking things off a list.
Breakfast, lunch, snacks, clothing and to-do lists are some of the additional areas that I have been able to streamline for increased efficiency by using the dinner prep technique. Taking the guess work out of discipline, setting yourself up for success and maximizing time are crucial elements to finding success in both personal and professional life.
There is no limit to how this technique can be applied, so get creative and enjoy the benefits of a prepped life!