Fitting exercise into your schedule can seem like an impossible task, especially when you’re so busy that you haven’t seen your friends and family for weeks, and are so low on clean clothes because you haven’t had a chance to do the washing in weeks that you’ve had to tap into your partners clothes (I see you trying to pull off the ‘boyfriends shirt’ look!).
And the reason a lot of people give for not achieving their fitness goals or for being unfit in general is a common one:
I don’t have enough time to exercise
But I call bullshit on that. In my experience, that is very rarely true. Sure, you may be busy, but unless you make time for exercise, it will always seem like you don’t have time to do it.
We’ll go through the 6 steps to scheduling exercise into your life, no matter how busy it is, and I’ll give a blow-by-blow of my daily (hectic) schedule below, to give you an idea on how I fit exercise into my life. For some, you’ll look at it and find it relatable, while others will wonder if its even possible. It’s not ‘easy’, and when I get lazy it can fall apart a bit, but I find that I am so much happier knowing that I’m making the most of my time and not just sitting around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for a miracle to happen.
Another topic I will expand on in a later post is getting the most out of every day, so stay tuned for that, but in the meantime let’s have a look at all the stuff I fit into every day. Keep in mind I work a 9-5 job that really is more like a ‘check your emails at 6am on the loo’ to ‘reply to emails in bed at night’ kinda job – it’s hectic, and probably not healthy sometimes, but I love it. Often I’ll have to stay in the office late, or travel for exhibitions/meetings, so although my schedule looks pretty rigid, it can be flexible when needed. So long as I achieve as much as I can when I can, I have some room to move when needed.
What my schedule looks like
As you can see, there’s no time scheduled in for social activities, seeing family, etc. When plans come up, I will re-jig the schedule to fit it in – you have to think of it as a ‘live’ document. It remains the same until it has to make way for something important like friends or family. It should be a framework for your day – not inflexible.
How to work out your schedule
Step 1 – Choose your weapon
A sorely overlooked tool for productivity planning is the ‘old school’ diary. I’m a huge paper diary fan, and even though I use Outlook (my go-to calendar program on my phone & laptop) extensively, I like being able to pop my diary on a table and literally have it all laid out in front of me like that.
You can take notes, draw scribbles, make plans; what ever takes your fancy. My favourite diary is day-to-a-page large hard cover Moleskine diary. I get mine from Notemaker every year, and get so excited when I see the orange parcel arrive in he post! If you’re not keen on using a diary, no stress! Your phone/computers’ calendar can do the job, or you can trawl the app sore for a calendar app you feel comfortable with.
Step 2 – The facts
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start playing with the facts and figures. You will likely have sections of your day that are regular/compulsory, such as work, uni, travel time, etc. Start with these by writing/typing these into the calendar, into a spreadsheet or just on scraps of paper. That will give you an idea on what time you have left in the day to achieve your other goals/activities. You can do this as a list, pictures, a chart; what ever helps you visualise it better.
Step 3 – The wants
Here’s where you make a list of all the things you want to achieve, and what you believe is involved in getting there.
Want to take up rock climbing? You’d want to get some basic muscle tone going before you jumped on a wall, so going on a light jog 4 or so times a week for a few weeks would be a good place to start.
Really unfit but have been hankering to run a 5km race? Download the C25K app to work out how long it will take you till you can run a 5k’er (about 8 weeks if you jogged 3 days a week FYI), and then see what races are around the date that you finish the C25K program.
These are just examples, but hopefully you get the drift!
Step 4 – Work out your limits
How tightly you want to schedule your time is completely up to you. If you find it stressful not having a lot of down time, then don’t force yourself to be stressed! There’s no point in that. I like having my calendar tightly scheduled, but please don’t take this as gospel. You’ll likely play around with different schedules over a few weeks to tweek them to your liking, so keep in mind that it’s absolutely fine to do that. Your new schedule should be challenging, but not utterly exhausting.
Step 5 – Let’s get down to business
Now that you have your ‘must do’s’ worked out (work/uni/travel/etc.), as well as your goals and how you think it’s best to go about achieving them, it’s time to start forming your schedule. As this will take a lot of rearranging/reshuffling, it’s best to type it or use scrap paper. I personally am a fan of working from the middle out. For example, I know what days and times I work, and that I will always feed the horses straight after work. So my first draft for Monday/Tuesday would look like this:
From there, along with a few healthy assumptions such as me needing 7 hours of sleep a night, and what traffic will be like to the gym in the morning, I’d start to fill in the blanks.
Step 6 – Practice makes perfect
One thing that will likely come as a shock is the fact that you will probably be getting up a lot earlier than you’re used to, to fit everything in. This will take you a few weeks to get used to, but so long as you’re getting enough sleep (the average human needs 7-8 hours per night FYI) and are eating healthily, you will actually start to have more energy than you used to. If something in the schedule isn’t fitting in, do a bit of a re-shuffle till it does. Keep in mind that this new way of living life will come as a shock to your system at first, so give it a chance! It could take months, so don’t give up too early.
If you have any questions, or even want to run your schedules past me for a second opinion, you can get in touch through the Contact Me page or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Best of luck everyone; You can do it, I promise!