Make Time To Exercise

Yesterday I presented a workshop at the Wellesley Wellness Retreat featuring my free workbook, Form a Fitness Game Plan. You can download the whole workbook here – and it’s been updated since originally posted on January 3rd to include some bonus content!

Below are some of the time management tips from the workbook. If you have strategies that work for you, please share in comments below!

Time is often the biggest challenge when it comes to making fitness a part of our lives. How you make time will be as personal as your goal itself, but here are some strategies that have helped me and others in the past.

Do a Time Audit: How do you spend your time now? For one week, write a brief summary at the end of each day of how you spent your time. Look for inefficiencies or things that can go.

Shift Your Bedtime: Go to bed earlier and get up earlier to exercise. Keep your waking time consistent and use the extra hour on non-workout days to complete other early morning tasks like getting a head start on your e-mails, reading a book, or meal planning. We often are less productive an hour before bed, so this swap can gain us productive time. (And maybe you can watch your favorite evening t.v. show on the treadmill instead!)

Eat Leftovers: Cook once, eat twice. When you’re making soup or lasagna set aside a portion prior to serving to go straight into the freezer. Designate a night of the week to be leftover night so you actually use the extra meals you freeze.

Partner Up: If you’re a parent, find a friend who will reciprocate playdates or school drop-offs to give you both extra time.

Reclaim Your Lunch Break: If you can work out on your lunch break and then eat at your desk, that’ll add a lot of potential workout time to your week. No shower? Maybe you can go for a walk and consider it active recovery, or use your lunch break to do a task you might save for after work or the weekend.

Know How You Procrastinate: How much time do you spend surfing the web or checking social media? See if you can create more time in your schedule just by focusing on the task at hand, whether you’re at work or folding laundry.

Use Your Commute: I used to run next to the kids while they biked to school, or push them to preschool in the jogging stroller. Some people bike to work. It may not be possible, but it’s wonderfully efficient if it is.

Do Two Things at Once: Get a headset so you can make phone calls while you de-clutter or fold laundry. Go to yoga class with your best friend instead of meeting for coffee and talk on the way there.

Schedule Your Workouts: Sit down in front of your calendar on Sunday and schedule your workouts for the week. Add them to the calendar.

Outsource Something: Childcare, grocery delivery services, laundry, lawn-care, housecleaning, errands… you name it, people have outsourced it. Bonus if you can outsource it to a coworker or to someone in your household for free. (Sorry kids.)

Be Efficient: Make lists and meal plan so you can grocery shop less frequently. Run your errands all together to reduce travel time.

What if it were tomorrow?

Here’s one way I troubleshoot my ideas for making time to exercise: I ask “What if it were tomorrow?”

It’s easy to decide that you’ll get up at 5 a.m. to run in the future, but what if it were tomorrow? Would you really get up? When would you have to go to bed tonight?

Are your challenges for doing it tomorrow the exception or the rule? If most days look like tomorrow, figuring out what you’d need to do to schedule this workout tomorrow will help you make a successful long-term plan.

What if you HAD to?

What if you HAD to get this workout in tomorrow? Imagine that it’s non-negotiable, at the level of a mandated court appearance. What would you do to get it done?

I’m not suggesting you initiate emergency procedures, but picturing it as a non-negotiable and then problem solving may lead you to some extra solutions. Maybe you don’t have to attend that meeting or be the one who walks your kids to school every day.

How do you make time?

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