Updated July 2018

One of the biggest obstacles most people have with training or healthy cooking is time. Or the lack of it. I get it; you feel like there is not enough time in the day to fit everything in.

Yet,  I am sure that at times you have been busy and something came up that just had to get done. Maybe you got invited to a party you couldn’t say no to. Or something urgent came up at work that needed attention yesterday. In those situations, somehow magically it seems, the extra time just appears from a thin air. 

How is it then that you can not fit exercise or cooking to your day ? Habits that would have a positive impact to your confidence, well-being and longevity?  It is because you fill your spare time with random stuff that is not urgent nor important. And you do so without realizing it. Maybe you have major “time leaks” in your days due to poor time management habits.

Things such as checking Facebook or watching the news for the tenth time the same day. Or coming home after work and sitting on the couch for long enough to grow roots. It’s even possible that some of us spend nine hours at work each day but only half of it is productive. The other half is spent socializing, reading unimportant emails or watching YouTube. Or, spending way too much time with Chad, the oddball from the sales department.

So how do you find more time? 

I recommend keeping a detailed time diary for at least three days but preferably a week. Pay close attention to what happens in the morning before going to work and in the evening after clocking out. But also examine how you spend time while at work. Are you working? Or are you “chadding“? (Im sorry, I couldn’t help it)

Once you’ve taken notes for a day, your diary might look something like this:

6am Alarm went off but snoozed for 15 minutes
6.15 Got out of bed
6.20 Brushing teeth and making myself look somewhat presentable to the public
6.50 Breakfast
7.15 Commuting to work (read a book)
8.00 Got to work, checking the calendar for the day
8.15 Work related emails
8.45 Facebook
9.00 Coffee with Chad
…..and so on….

As with keeping a diet diary the value is to objectively look back on your day written on a piece of paper. Seeing stuff written works wonders. Make observations on how much time you spent on different tasks. Remember to be honest and detailed:

-15 minutes in the morning for snoozing
-20 minutes doing my hair in the morning. Getting a haircut would save me 18 minutes each morning

-2 hours on Facebook each day
-I have 4 daily coffee breaks and spend over an hour conversing with Chad about the latest outfits in WWE

-1.5 hours on daily commuting
1 hour on training and shower
-15 minutes on cooking
-2 hours of television and general couch time

Once you’ve written how you spend your time, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How do I use my time?
2. What do I value the most in life?
(If your health is important to you but you spend most of your time arguing over the elasticity of different forms of spandex suits with Chad, it’s time to revalue) Also, this, this and this will help with rediscovering your values
3. How much time do I spend on things important to me?
4. In what ways do I waste time?
5. What changes could I make so my days would reflect my values?

Once you’ve done all the above, you can implement small changes 

Start by changing 15 minutes a day. Maybe it’s just as easy as getting up as soon as the alarm goes off instead of snoozing. Or having three coffees with Chad instead of four. Once the first change gets easy and “automated” you are ready for another minor change. I wrote about building and changing habits in detail in here.

I know you have a lot of things going on in your life. You’re busy. But we all have the same 24 hours and that is unlikely going to change soon. So make the most out of what you’ve got. There’s nothing worse than wasting time. You’re never going to get any of it back.

My book Spandex Not Compulsory is all about finding time and making health and fitness part of your everyday life. But for now, take the first action and track your time by downloading the free Time Tracking Sheet.