Somebody Asked Me About Time Management

I have this odd belief that we have very little actual free will or self-discipline. Oh, we certainly have some, but once you hit a certain age, life conspires against you. It seems that a lot of things begin to pile up on you after a certain age.

Maybe in high school, you and your friends would play basketball for hours, chase around for a bit, go to practice and have mom hand you a “Sunny D.” Then, life happened. Rolling out of bed and making yourself one of those egg white omelets with six herbs and five vegetables that your fitness trainer recommended might happen a few times. I never have the spices that go with the recipe and I end up eating the yolks because I can’t crack an egg right to save my life. After that, off to work and maybe even a few hours on top of that because of a glitch, error or meltdown.

Finally, you got to the gym. Frankly, I applaud you for walking into the door. I often recommend home gyms, calisthenics workouts, or local parks for busy guys, but recently I have begun to realize that many of us don’t have exercise issues, we have time issues.

A few years ago, I began compiling this little “list” of things to do that save me time, energy and effort. Obviously, the list, these Ten Commandments of Time Management, have little to do with exercise, but let me give you one or two ideas about training when under the time crunch, too. Feel free to ignore any and all of these suggestions, but do so at your own peril.

1. Fill up your gas tank whenever it comes to half-full. When you have half a tank of gas, there is always a gas station. There is no line at the gas station, too, and moreover you are just cruising around doing a few items. When the “Gas Empty” warning light comes on, you will be in a desert with a woman giving birth. So, be proactive and always fill up before you need to fill up.
2. I visit the local lube and oil shop every three months. I always have someone go with me then we go to lunch. I drop off the car, listen to all those annoying things that need to be replaced (always replace wipers and filters when prompted), I go each lunch and the car is always waiting when finished. It keeps the car running longer and safer and you will never notice the time strain.
3. One last car issue: replace your tires and battery long before you need to replace them. Perhaps it is because I drive on snowy roads and deal with cold mornings, but NOTHING kills a day or two or three like a flat tire or dead battery.
4. Start compiling a house list. For your furnace filter, write down the exact measurements. I have two, so when I buy (and buy them in bulk, too) filters, I have my little card that says “20 x 20 x 5” and “16 x 20 x 1.” No other size will fit, by the way. Any time you replace an item, check to see if you have a replacement
5. Have a Master House (or Apartment) List. If you have weekly chores, right down the day you do them. Tuesday night is garbage night as the garbage man comes on Wednesday. You only want to forget that once. If you have annual items, right them down. In April and May, you might have chores to prep the cooling system, write them down. In October, you may have winterizing chores…write them down. Clearing this list clears your brain.
6. And while you are at lists, make a shopping list that relates to you and your needs. There are going to obvious ones most of us will buy: “Eggs, Butter, Veggies, Fruit” but I would also include items that you should always check off when you go to the store. Toilet paper, paper towels, Ziploc bags and garbage bags are easy to forget and really, really hard to substitute for one another. Most experts in time management usually say to shop once a week and never go back to the store after that. Josh Hillis, fat loss expert, argues that the hardest workout of the week should be shopping for food and food preparation. The harder you prep your food, the leaner your waistline.
7. This leads to a key time management tool: learn to “touch” everything just once. When you open your mail, try to just have three options. My first option is always the garbage can. Next, if a response is need, respond immediately. If you don’t have time now, don’t open the mail yet! When you open the mail, keep paper, envelopes checkbook and stamps nearby to deal with anything that comes up. Finally, if it is something to read or look at later, keep a large manila envelope to pop in the magazines or letters or catalogs. Empty that on the first of every month.
8. The same applies to e-mail. E-mail was once considered the cure to inefficiency in the work place. This was before kitty videos, fantasy football and sexting. The same rules apply to e-mails: delete it, respond to it, or file it. Try to respond in five or less sentences, too.
9. Where is your workout gear? I live an interesting life where I can basically roll out and train any time I want. I suggest that most people keep two packed training bags. If you commute or drive you car a lot, always keep one in there, packed and ready to go. If you go from work to home before you go to the gym, there is a really good chance you won’t go to the gym.
10. Finally, it is okay to rethink the way you train if life is getting cluttered. I applaud the Weekend Warrior mentality where you train hard and heavy on both Saturday and Sunday. Kick in a moderate or even easy workout on Wednesday and you have a pretty good training template. Use some of the weekend for shopping, food prep and training and it will leave your weekdays more open for the realities of life.

Take a few small steps in organizing your life and proactively attempt to deal with life’s issues. Things will come up, but some preparation will do a lot to head off losing weeks instead of days. Time management in life opens up time to train in the gym.

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