I’m busy. You’re busy. We are all “too busy” to get exercise, to prepare healthy meals, or set aside some quiet time with God. I hear this excuse every day in my health coaching practice and I get it. I struggle too! But in all honesty, we all have the same 24 hours in a day. We each make choices about how we are going to use the time we are given, and we typically spend most of our time on what we value most. If you wonder what your true values are, take a look at what consumes your time. If you ‘don’t have time’ for the things that you say are important to you, then it’s time for some re-assessment and some planning.
This is not a warm, fluffy message, but which will benefit you more in the long run – comfort or truth? I care about you, so I am going to give you the truth.
The truth is that to live an abundant life, there are certain things that you must make time for. I will use exercise for example. Our bodies were designed to move, and unless you have a job where you are active all day long, you may have to purposefully add activity into your day. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
You’ve probably heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Plan ahead by scheduling the important things into your day first, then fill in the other stuff around them. Schedule a time for your exercise – before the kids get up, on a work lunch break, before heading home form work. Fill in mundane or less consequential stuff around the important things. Then exercise won’t be the thing that gets put off day after day. Think of your day like a jar, the important tasks like small rocks, and all the other stuff that can fill our day like sand. Fill the jar with the rocks and then let the sand fill in between them. You’ll fill your time more efficiently, and if you don’t have room for everything, it will be the mundane things that get left out.
Eliminate the time-waters.
Let’s face it, even the most efficient ones among us likely have some wasted time during our day. Whether it’s getting lost in Facebook, zoning out on a work break, or getting sucked into watching just one more show on TV, if you take a close look at our day, chances are you can find some time here and there that could be put to better use. Statistics show that the average American watches several hours of TV each day. Cut out 30 minutes of TV and you’ve found 30 minutes to exercise! If you spend a lot of time waiting for things – waiting at a doctor’s office, waiting in line at the DMV – keep a resistance band in your purse or pocket to pull out and do a few standing or sitting strengthening exercises while you wait.
Break it up.
Just because your body needs at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it all at once. The most recent studies show that we can get equal benefit by exercising 15 minutes twice a day, or 10 minutes three times per day. Many folks at my workplace walk outdoors on their morning break, afternoon break, and then 10 more minutes after work. And studies have shown that walking out in nature not only gets you active, but reduces stress and increases your ability to focus once you return to your work. All those benefits in just 10 minutes! If the weather isn’t good for getting outdoors, try some resistance band exercises at your desk.
Combine your exercise with other activities.
Walk around the field while you are watching your child’s softball game. Go to the gym with a friend and catch up while you use the ellipticals. Play basket ball or ride bikes with your kids; they’ll appreciate the time you spend with them and you’ll be instilling good habits in them at the same time. There are lots of ways you can ‘feed two birds with one seed,’ so to speak.
One woman at my workplace reads a book while she is walking outdoors during her breaks – every day. I don’t know how she does it without walking into something or falling into a pothole, but more power to her!
Are there things you do in your day that someone else could do instead? Have your older kids do the dishes or some house cleaning, or ask your spouse to cook a meal…ask others in the household to take something off your plate so that you can take the time to get your exercise. It will ultimately help them as well, because you will be healthy enough to be present for them both now and well into the future.
Learn to say no.
Along the lines, learn to say know when taking on a new task or responsibility will crowd the important things out of your life.
Work harder but shorter.
The CDC says that if we do a vigorous level of exercise, we only need to do half as much to maintain health. So, instead of planning a half hour walk, you could do 15 minutes of a high intensity activity. You can check out some ideas for this on ALC TV episode #5.
All of these tips can also apply to other things that you value in your life, like cooking healthy meals for your family or making time for Bible study and prayer.
What tips and techniques do you use that you’d like to share with our readers? Please comment below – your tip might help someone else!