Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted – where did the time go? I hear this all the time and in my own head. When I coach people on physical activity, the topic of time management invariably comes up. It’s certainly something that’s come up for me lately as I’v put the focus on my creativity with workshops and rehearsals. It’s more important than ever to make a plan and stick with it.
What I’ve been finding is that for the most part, folks are not taking taking enough time for themselves. The desire and motivation to get moving are there – from feeling more energized to losing weight and relieving stress, but one big barrier gets in the way – time. Today we are going to strategize on ways you can carve out time for yourself to get the physical activity you want and need.
Time management is a whole topic in and of itself, and getting a handle on it can be a big stress reliever. It’s the cornerstone to getting things done (aka reaching your goals). Let’s look at it in relation to exercise. The poorer you manage your time, the less likely you are to find the time to exercise and the consistency to keep it up. You may have the best intentions in the world; you bought a new bike, joined a gym, or finally cleaned off the treadmill in the basement – unless you consciously make the time for it, it ain’t gonna happen.
Chart Your Time:
Work, commute, kids, volunteering, hobbies, and other important commitments can compete with our fitness goals. The first step is to make a Time Chart. I first found this strategy in an exercise from Tal Ben-Shahar’s book Happier and I think it translates well here. Get a piece of paper and make seven columns and label them for each day of the week. Below each day, fill in your day (you can break it down in rows morning, afternoon, night) with your standing commitments – everything except your exercise. Then, see where your free time is on your chart.
Next, decide on how many times of week you’d like to exercise and for how long. Also take into consideration time for any hobbies that are not exercise related (we don’t do that often enough). Remember, to make it stick, choose physical activities that excite and motivate you. If you hate getting on the treadmill, it’s time to explore other things. I recently had a session where my client said she loved to roller skate. A quick Google search revealed a number of indoor rinks in the area and now she is excited to go.
Remember, too, that one of the best ways to get started and to stick with a routine is to make it a habit.Sure, things get in the way like recitals,a cold, or social functions, but the more your can work out at the same time and day each week, the better. Now, go back to your schedule. See where you have those open spots where you are MOST likely to add in your exercise. Be mindful, that even if you have a shorter amount of time than you like, ANY exercise is better than no exercise at all. If you haven’t heard, the jury is out, shorts bouts of moderate to vigorous activity spread out over a day is just as effective as one longer bout.
If you haven’t been consistent with your workouts, it’s better to ease in to it than crash and burn. Look at your schedule and book in two workouts instead of four to get started. Try it out for a couple of weeks and see if it’s working for you and your schedule. Maybe there is some time you can devote on the weekends if you are having trouble during the week.
Switch It Up
Never say never unless you’ve tried it, and even if you did, try it again! You may think you hate to workout in the early morning, but have your ever done it? You never know, once you drag yourself out of bed you may fall in love with the way it makes you feel for the rest of the day. You may love the fact that you have some more free time after work.
Are you doing the same old thing? Does exercise mean stepping onto the treadmill day after day? SWITCH IT UP! Be creative and think about all of the things that you loved to do or would love to try. My cousin has fallen madly and passionately in love with Kung-Fu and signed up for classes and attends demos – who knew?! It just takes a little research and a little courage – and just in case you think you might bee too embarrassed to jump into that hip-hop class that’s always intrigued you, there are two things to remember:
First, nobody cares what you look like (they are too busy looking at themselves in the mirror) and second, give yourself permission to be terrible. I mention hip-hop because I feel that I am particularly terrible. I am way too modern dancer and I missed the boat entirely in the 1990s and 2000s – entirely. I don’t run to a hip-hop class for sure, but I do love my hip-hop Zumba class and give myself A LOT of leeway and have a great time.
Find the Why
Lastly, let’s look at the motivation you have to get moving. If you are not really motivated, no matter how precise your schedule looks and how well you’ve planned, you might never get moving. It’s time to FIND THE WHY. Dig deep. What will your life look like if you added exercise into or back into your life on a consistent basis? One thing is for sure, you would’t constantly be letting yourself down that can really chip away into your confidence. What influence would that newfound pride have in other areas in your life if you DID make the time for yourself. What would life look like of you tried new things that seemed daunting before (hip-hop included)? What would life look like if you had more endurance, more strength and more flexibility?
I believe that exercise is a great metaphor for how you want to live your life. Carving out the time to take care of yourself in this realm is the blueprint to take into other areas of your life. Think of exercise as your playtime – and nothing is more fun than play, and something that we adults can use WAY more of!