I talk a lot about training and its endless benefits, be it mental, physical, or emotional. Unfortunately, a lot of people never even get the chance to realize these benefits, because of “time”. Some people feel like they don’t have it, and others actually don’t. Regardless, just as we give you the tools to reach your goals in the gym, we should also give you the necessary tools to affect change elsewhere in your life. We should help you create better time management habits, and help make them stick.
After all, what’s the point of me telling you how to train more effectively, if you can even find the time to start?
Below, are 5 strategies/tools that I’ve personally used to create time for training despite holding a full- time day job with demanding hours/high expectations (along with several part-time jobs) all while trying to raise a family. This is by no means the end-all-be-all list of time management strategies, but I do think they constitute the beginnings of a reasonable “Starter Kit”.
Similar to the gym, we need to find the problem before we can fix it. In this case, we need a better understanding of why we feel like we “have no time”. Are we actually short on time? If so, what is eating up most of our time? Should it? To answer all of these questions I’ve put myself through a thorough time-audit. I’ve listed out the things I do in a day and assigned some projected times, but I’d rather leave nothing to my perception/bias. I’d rather have the raw data. You can use a simple “Clock In” app to “Punch In” and “Punch Out” of every single task in your given day. Ex. How long it takes you to cook food, ow long it takes you to shower, how long you sleep etc. Once (and only once) we identify the total time devoted to recurring daily tasks, can we then figure out the delta between where we are and where we want to be. You might be shocked to find that some tasks take significantly less time that you think, while others are eating away at your day unnecessarily.
Next, attack those recurring tasks, and try to reduce them, both in time and frequency. Are you taking too long to complete your Grocery Shopping? Are you Grocery Shopping too often? If the answer to both questions is “Yes” then great, we can double the time gain by being more efficient. Groceries in particular are an effective way to free up time simply by better managing the food you have, the food you really need, and when you need it. Staying on top of the food you will need in the coming week will allow you to go to the grocery store once, and be done with it until the following week. So keep a list. (there are also several apps that can help you do this in a very detailed way, even including mapping out your local grocery store so you don’t waste time walking through unnecessary isles).
Work together. Take a look at the people in your life and honestly assess if their decisions impact when and how you do things. If they do, then work with them to create a better schedule for yourself AND them (life is a give and take). Good examples of this are Spouses and Bosses. If you have a Spouse, work with them to figure out who is doing what in a given week and work together to figure out the most efficient way to accomplish common goals. Stop looking at the world as “things you do” and “things they do” and start looking at it for what it truly is: “things that need to get done”. If you drive by the drycleaners on your commute home from work, there’s no sense in your wife taking time out of her day to pick up the clothes. That’s time that she could spend training, so that you can train once you get home. If you have a Boss who delegates work to you, work with them to figure out what needs to get done and by when. Then, manage expectations and figure out which of his/her demands are “need to haves” vs. “nice to haves”. Most times, your perception of what NEEDS to get done “tonight”, can actually get done tomorrow morning. The same amount of work needs to get done, but when it’s done on your timetable, you can play the game more effectively. You can control when it gets done, so that it doesn’t interfere with the important things in your life, like spending time with your family.
Program. We don’t always go into the gym with an exact plan of what we’re going to do, but try your best to program out at least a couple of days (or have someone program for you). I prefer to plan my whole week out so I can better understand where in the week I will need mental and physical breaks. Then, I build in some back up sessions in case some unexpected work/tasks create conflicts. That way, I never feel slighted for missing a training session. I’ve planned for it by planning to be flexible. Another benefit to programming, even just one day out, is that you won’t spend time wandering around the gym looking at equipment, deciding which exercises to do. You can take control of your gym experience by going in with a plan.
Compartmentalize and focus. Once you schedule out the things you can control, control them. When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to train, train. When it’s time to relax, RELAX. The more focused you are on the task, the quicker and faster you can get it done, and the more your “free time” will expand. When you’re working or spending quality time with family, eliminate distractions. Put your phone somewhere safe, but far away. Engage deeply, focus, and be done until next time. Controlling the things we can helps us come to terms with the things we cannot, so we can let them go (emotionally). Letting go of what we cannot control helps reduce unnecessary stress, making even our emotional state less erratic.
These are not groundbreaking ideas, and you’ve probably heard them (or something similar) before, but they do work. Sometimes, we’re just not ready to hear it so it takes another lap. Sometimes, it just doesn’t click.
You are in control of your own time.
You are the narrator of your own story.
Control the clock. Control the narrative.
Become a better you.
On your time.