If there is one quality most Americans share these days it’s that we are busy, busy, busy. It’s the small talk topic of conversation at every school pick up line, PTO meeting, youth sports practice and girls night out. We compare schedules, work hours, kids’ activities. Constantly measuring ourselves against the others, one upping them with tales of our even busier, over scheduled, hectic lives. We all do it. Whether consciously or not, busy is the social currency of our day. Every conversation is a chance to be crowned the winner of the battle of the busiest. We tell ourselves and our friends the list of things we’d love to do IF only we had the time. I’d love to work out but I just don’t have the time. I’d love to have family dinners together but we’re too busy. I wish I had time to read…to scrapbook…to clean…. Fill in the blank. We’re simply too busy. Or are we?
What are you too busy for? Take one of those phrases or substitute one of your own. Now replace “I’m too busy” with “it’s not a priority”. Ouch. Right? It stings a little. Yes, we are all busy. But someone busier than you is making it work because they made it a priority.
Now, what can you do about it? Some things are non-negotiable. You can’t quit your job, stop making dinner, give up on the housekeeping and grocery shopping. The kids still need shuttled to and from their activities. You’re thinking There just isn’t time! But I’m here to tell you there is! The first step is taking a cold, hard look at your day. Where are the wasted minutes, chunks of time squandered because of disorganization or poor planning? Leave emotions out of it and find every precious minute you can steal back in your day. Here are some common time thieves I found in my days that might be lurking in yours too.
Limit Screen Time
Five minutes here, 10 minutes there. A quick e-mail check leads to 30 minutes wasted on click bait. There goes the time you could have worked out, put the laundry away, or played outside with the kids. If you know social media, the internet or your phone pulls you in and a quick check regularly turns into a big time suck then this is a great place to carve out time. Turn off the notifications on your phone. Every time your phone pings, buzzes, or lights up it distracts you and has the potential to turn into time lost. Do you really need to know every time someone likes your Facebook post? Probably not. Set parameters for yourself just as you do for your kids’ internet/electronics time. Find a time that works for you and stick to it.
Work smarter, not harder
Make a weekly meal plan and grocery list and stick to it. I can’ tell you how much time this saves. Keep your basic go to items on hand and you’ll save even more time. If I forget (AKA get lazy and don’t do it!) to plan ahead I can guarantee I’ll be making multiple trips to the grocery store and wasting serious time! Even the quickest trip into the store ends up taking a half hour out of my day. That’s a half hour I could have used to put in a nice 3 mile run or HIIT workout!
My meal plan is nothing fancy. I created a simple weekly organizer that I’ll be sharing on the blog soon! Keep an eye out for your free download!
Utilize Your Household Tech
Serving home cooked meals is important to me. Cooking and the resulting clean up take up a huge amount of my time. I never used to use my slow cooker because I could not for the life of me remember to get meat out of the freezer the night before. Then someone shared with me that the miracle appliance will cook that frozen hunk of meat just as well as if you had defrosted it. Mind blown, life changed.
Do your prep work the night before and toss everything together in the morning. Slow cooker liners are a huge help if you aren’t limiting plastics in your home. They make cleanup so easy! Viola! You just bought yourself a few more minutes in your day.
Many washing machines and dishwashers now have “delay” features. I load the washer at night, set the delay for the wee hours of the morning and wake to a clean load of laundry ready to toss into the dryer. I then reload and set the delay to start an hour before I get home from work. Find new ways to make your tech work for you!
Binge watching must see t.v. shows on the couch is cozy. Watching your favorite show on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike is smart.
Same goes for all the hours spent sitting at youth activities. Kids practicing at the YMCA? Get a membership and workout during practice time. Practicing at the park? Run or walk while the kids practice. You’ll still be nearby if your child needs you and they may like the independence! My son practices at a park with a one mile walking track round the perimeter. I schedule my long runs for his practice days and we both go home sweaty and happy. Not into walking or running? Use that time to catch up on reading, e-mails and phone calls or make your meal plan and grocery list.
Treat your workout like a job
Or any commitment you would never flake out on. You wouldn’t make plans with a friend and not show up, would you? Plan for your workout like you would any other important commitment in your day. My kids know that they can’t skip practices or training and it is the same for mom and dad. Our workouts are important just like their practices and we have scheduled time set aside each day for them.
I am very lucky to have a husband who is as dedicated to fitness as I am. We keep each other on track and do what we can to help the other find time to work out no matter how busy we get. That means we stagger our rest days, take turns running kids, schedule dinner around work outs, whatever it takes to help keep the other person going. Recruit a friend, neighbor, or sibling to join you or if no one you know is interested in healthy living join an online support and accountability group. You’ll stay on track and maybe make some new friends along the way!
Get Creative & be flexible! (bad pun intended)
Here is the thing; there are a finite number of hours in each day. Some of those hours are taken. Period. You can’t stop going to work and you have to sleep. Those hours are simply off the table. Everything else? Priorities. You cannot accomplish everything you want to every day. The choice to work out is there each and every day and it is yours to make or not. That means sometimes other things will fall by the wayside. Ask yourself, what is more important to me today? Clean bathrooms or my work out? If you have company coming over the answer will likely be the bathrooms. And that’s ok! You make the work out your priority the next day. No company coming and the bathrooms aren’t in danger of the health inspector shutting them down? Pick the work out! I’m pretty sure this is why those tubs of cleaning wipes were invented!
If all else fails, look outside of traditional hours. I’m not an early bird OR a night owl. I keep pretty standard hours but I have a few friends who don’t. They make their natural wake/sleep cycle work for them. One friend cleans her house at midnight after the kids go to bed and another gets up early and cleans before the kids wake for school. My husband has a friend who fits his work out in at 4 am. Every.single.day. I’m pretty much a zombie at 6 am let alone 4 so I would surely hurt myself trying to do well, anything that time of day but it works for him! These people have looked outside of traditional times so they are able to fit the most into their days. They found a way to achieve the best work, life, fitness balance for their lives and you can too!
Let me know your busy-busting tricks in the comments!
Hi! I'm Erica, a fitness and healthy food loving wife and mother of three here to inspire you on your wellness journey!