Eat More. Be More.

7 Ways to Make Time for Excercise

You’re busier now than you’ve ever been. You work all day, manage the house, take care of the kids, and try to sleep a few hours every night. There just isn’t any margin (extra time) in your day for exercise. How do you get around this?

The absolute first thing to do is stop lying to yourself. You have the time. We all have the same number of hours in a day. What you probably don’t have is a list of priorities. This can even affect those of us that DO have the time because exercise can be one of those things that you know you need, but it hasn’t become a priority.


Parkinson’s Law

In 1955 Cyril Parkinson wrote a humorous piece for The Economist and part of the first sentence reads, “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion”. This became known as Parkinson’s Law. While the article, and later book, are actually referring to inefficiencies of government, the adage is true across most activities. If you have all day to clean the house, it will take all day. But if your mother-in-law says she will be over in an hour, guess how long it will take to clean! Be mindful of your time and spend it wisely.

7 Ways To Make Time

Make a plan

It’s hard to find time to workout. And time is almost always an excuse. I was totally guilty of the same thing. I always have so much going on that there isn’t time to workout. Except there was. I just had to realign my priorities.

So the first thing to do then is list out your priorities. We all have too many responsibilities and things we need to get done. When it comes down to it, there are a lot of things that are complete time wastes. I never had time to workout, but then I realized I could give you details on what happened on at least a dozen different TV shows… Go through your list and keep what has to be done and what is actually important. Cut the rest.

Create a weekly schedule. Anything that had to be done on a specific date and time goes on your calendar. Everything else goes on a to do list. I schedule mine by day and location (home, work, errands, etc) using Toodledo. I use the web vesrion, iPad version, and I have it on my phone. Do this on a Sunday night and plan out your week.

The first thing you should add to the calendar is your workout schedule. If you don’t take control of your time, someone else will. If you put it on the calendar and commit to it, it will be much easier to say, “I can’t Wednesday afternoon, but how about Thursday?”. Chances are, they don’t have a calendar and Thursday will be fine.

Flickr photo by W_Minshull

Flickr photo by W_Minshull

Have A Plan For the Gym

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Of course it’s cliche, but it’s also true. There are tons of online resources that can help your plan training schedules including what frequency to train each body part. Other programs plan the workout for you, all you have to do is show up and do the work. This is one of the reasons I love Crossfit. Someone much more capable than myself is doing the planning AND coaching.

Exercise at home

There are a lot of excercises you can do at home without fancy equipment. If you’re just starting out, body weight exercises will probably be enough. Pick 3 of these and put them together. Do one exercise for 20 seconds. Take 10 seconds to rest and transition to the next. Do each 4 times (Tabata style workout). It will wear you out. These are just a few suggestions:

  • Sit ups
  • Push ups
  • Air squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jump rope
  • Leg lifts


Get your gym clothes ready the day before

I like to spend Sunday night planning all of my clothes for work and the gym for the week. I dread finding clothes to wear every morning, so having it planned in advance makes my life so much easier. My wife leaves at 4:45am for the gym so having her stuff ready the night before makes it easier to get up when the alarm goes off because the decisions have already been made.

Turn off the television

I’ve mentioned my poor TV watching habits before. I still record several shows, but nothing like I used to. Even with my reduced viewing schedule my DVR tends to fill up quickly because I don’t make time to watch what I recorded. Back when I was setting my priorities I decided to focus on exercising and writing more, along with doing a lot of development on my websites that I kept putting off. TV is a great way to relax and unwind, but do it after you finish the important stuff. Make it a reward.

Keep It Short

Nothing says every workout has to last an hour. I hate cardio (as you may have heard). Some of our conditioning workouts last 6 or 8 minutes but I am covered in sweat and exhausted. Focus on intensity and effort. Obviously you’re not going to get that kind of workout if you’re doing 10 minutes worth of bicep curls. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and it’s a great way to build the habit.

Wear a fitness tracker

I’ll be writing an article in the next few weeks about my experience working out while wearing a FitBit. I can tell you now, one of the things it does is encourage you to move more. Seeing that you’re close to a goal or realizing how short you came yesterday makes you want to move. We are wired to meet expectations and just seeing your progress can be motivating.

Small Steps

You don’t have to start with an hour at the gym every other day. Shoot for twenty minutes three times per week. If you’re like me and you know you’ll never do it on your own at home, find a gym, preferably somewhere that has scheduled classes, and commit to going twice per week. Understand that less frequency means slower results. Sometimes creating a habit is the first step of the journey.

What is your biggest waste of time during the week?