The time is ALWAYS there. You’re spending 24 hours a day doing something (and hopefully sleeping enough of those hours). The goal is to figure out what you’re doing for those 24 hours, and reduce or eliminate time spent doing unproductive things (including too MUCH sleep), and find time for exercise.
One of the most common excuses for not exercising is a lack of time. Occasionally, that’s a real thing, but mostly it’s about perception. It’s a lack of awareness of where you are spending your 24 hours. It’s spending time on things that are not improving your life. It’s thinking it has to take an hour every day. It’s spending unorganized time on things that can be done more efficiently. But if you start to really dig into how your days are spent – what you’re really doing and how much time you spend doing those things – you will undoubtedly discover quite a few ways to make your days more efficient and free up some/more time to help yourself.
1. Start keeping a time diary
It might sound like Jr High all over again, but for a week, or even 2, write down what you do, when and for how long. Try not to deviate from what you’d do normally, just write it down. The goal right now isn’t to change your days, it’s to see what you are doing, and for how long, so you have a much more objective view of where your time is going
This will help you see if you are doing things you need to stop doing, either altogether, or on such a regular basis. You’ll be able to see if you’re spending too much time on things that should only be taking a fraction of the time. You might find that you’re just doing TOO MANY things, and might decide to re-evaluate what you DO do, eliminating the things that are less important, so you can spend more time on more important things, and even replace some of them with things that are more important (like exercise)
2. Work out first thing
Get up earlier and do something, anything. Doing something opens the door to doing more Somethings. Even if 5 minutes is all you can muster, start there. You can get up 5 minutes early each day and get more out of your waking hours. Walk up and down your stairs. Walk around the block once if the weather is cooperative. Or, walk to the stop sign at the end of the street. Make the act of moving a habit, before you work on increasing the time you’re moving. By getting your exercise in right off the bat, you remove all the other time sucks that get in the way as the day goes on. You are putting yourself first, and everyone needs to do that daily, for some part of the day.
3. Be proactive
Lay out your workout clothes the night before. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you have to spend even 3 minutes all groggy-eyed and foggy-brained trying to figure out what clothes are suitable for either the workout planned, or the weather, it’s easy to use that as an excuse to just hit the snooze button. Again. Set out clothes that you love, that are comfortable, that you enjoy wearing. Heck, buy a new workout top or pants in a bright color or bold pattern just so you feel all snazzy. It can help!
4. Make meals ahead of time
Spend time 1-2 times a week on meal prep. You can even do that while you watch TV. It’s really easy to get bogged down in the effort of making meals on a daily basis (more about THAT in an upcoming post, so stay tuned). It’s easy to give the excuse of it taking 30-45 minutes a night to make dinner, or 30 minutes in the morning to make breakfast and pack lunch, but it’s just that – an excuse.
If time really is that much of a crunch, hire someone to do your meal prep once a week, and even grocery shop if necessary. That’s certainly not always possible, but consider it.
5. Save gas, save time, work out at home
Work out at home so you aren’t spending probably at least 20 minutes, maybe more, driving to and from the gym. It might seem like even a 5 minute drive to the gym is nothing, but consider that you probably spend more time making yourself presentable before going there (especially you ladies – be honest!), and it’s more than just a 10 minute round trip. And – be honest – how much time do you spend socializing at the gym? How often have you said to yourself “I don’t have an hour to work out today”, when in reality, even if you only spend 10 minutes in the car (so 50 minutes at the gym), you’re spending 10-20 minutes socializing or, worse, waiting for equipment? A good workout doesn’t have to take more than 30 minutes.
6. Stop mindless internet or TV surfing
No doubt you’ve heard this one many times. But it’s AMAZING how much time we totally lose before we even realize it, pressing that up/down channel button, or scrolling the wheel on your mouse. You aren’t learning anything, it’s not even relaxing. It’s just a mindless time-suck that’s like a worm hole, taking us 2 hours into the future in the blink of an eye. Stop. If you know this happens to you, but you simply NEED to surf for a bit to let your mind unwind (which, btw, is not the same as active relaxation), then set a timer somewhere for 10 minutes. Max 15. It will seem like about 47 seconds later that timer goes off, but you’ll thank yourself. Then get up and move. Or do something else on this list which will allow you to time to move.
7. Make active use of your TV time
Not mindlessly surfing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch TV at all. Hardly. But instead of sitting on the couch, use that time to be active. There are endless options – you can do jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks, and many more, right in place, X number of reps each move, during the show. During commercials you can run through a couple of ab/core exercises – hold plank, or do some Spiderman plank work. Think of how much work you could get done while watching your favorite 30 minute sit-com! Write down a few simple exercises you can do, in order, so you have no excuses of “I forgot what I should do”.
8. Do something that makes you feel like a kid again
What kid ever complained about not having time for recess, when recess involved their veryveryvery favorite game? Find something you LOVE, or something you really want to get good at, and you will have a much easier time deciding that is more important (ie fun) than scrolling Facebook to see what’s going on with people you don’t even know or like much.
9. Find variety
It’s the rare person who loves doing the same thing every day, day in and year out. And besides, that might keep you moving, but it doesn’t challenge you, and what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. So, don’t just find one thing that you enjoy doing, find several. Switch things up every 3-4 weeks. That’s about how long it takes to adapt, so by the time things start to feel easy, you’re changing it again, but still to something you are looking forward to. Making regular changes helps keep things fresh, and that helps keep motivation, and therefore the desire to make time, higher.
10. Don’t think it’s all or nothing
Don’t think you HAVE to exercise for 30 minutes at a time or it’s not worth it. If you have 2 15 minutes slots, then go for it! Everyone has 30 minutes on a near-daily basis. But not everyone has 30 (or more) minutes every single day. Everyone will have a time-crunch for one reason or another. Don’t let a reduced time constraint mean you don’t work out at all. If all you can manage is a 10 minute ab/core workout, then do that! That is good for you, it can be done several times a week, it can be done later in the day if you don’t ever/often have time to add it to the end of your regular workout a few times a week in the morning. Maybe it’s just 10 minutes of some yoga stretching. Then, decide if this was just a situation beyond your control and tomorrow will be back to normal, or if you’ve let things slide and you’re back into some of those time-suck habits you need to get under control again.
The President of the United States makes time to exercise almost every day, and it hardly gets any busier than that! “Busy” is something we’ve made up. It’s not that we don’t have a lot of things to do, but we often don’t prioritize what’s really important. Having some degree of fitness in your life IS worth it, and worth more than so many other things. The only issue is that it isn’t a habit, yet, and that’s relatively easy to change. You don’t have to truly love it, but you will eventually love the results. It is VERY worth making a regular, if not daily, part of your life.
By deciding it’s going to be a part of your life EVERY single day, you will end up with at least 4, probably more like 5 or 6 or sometimes even 7 days a week, in which you get some form of exercise. You will realize how much better you feel that day, and as the days go on, how much better you feel all the time.
Your time IS worth it.