Time management 101

One of the most often used reasons for not working out, has to be a lack of time. Busy lives can interfere with your fitness goals in many ways. Your job could be the culprit, making you work long days or get home exhausted. For others, it’s about the children or social life.

What I am here to tell you is that in most cases, it all boils down to how bad you really want it. Motivated people tend to find ways to get there. Today we will go over the most common reasons for a lack of time and ways to cope with them.

  1. Watching Game of Thrones, the Kardashians and German drama soaps

    In 2014, the average European citizen spent 234 (!!!!) minutes watching TV every single day. Belgium did similarly with 233 minutes for Walloon citizens and 201 minutes for Flemish citizens. Romania, Serbia and Portugal were the biggest couch potatoes, while Sweden, Switzerland and Luxemburg were least interested (yet still they spent well over 2 hours watching TV every day).

    These numbers are concerning for multiple reasons. I probably don’t need to tell you about the negative effects of prolonged sitting on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. But have you seen what rubbish is on TV these days? What ever happened to real music on MTV? Why are the Kardashians on TV all the time? Why do people care about how drunk people got in Jersey shore?

    On a serious note, a dangerous spiral can emerge very quickly. You feel tired from work, so you sit on the couch, you get tired from not doing anything, and the leap back towards working out can seem brace-yourselves-the-are-coming-after-each-workout-216234more challenging than ever. I understand people want to watch the news, relax with family or friends  (although I get back to that in
    a minute) and watch a soap, sports game, … But 4 hours a day is overkill. If you can sit on the couch for that long, you have time to squeeze in a 1 hour workout three times a week. Period.

  2. Get social: sharing is caring

    This is obviously not the case for everyone. Let’s say you keep your TV-time to a bare minimum. Another common reason I hear is that a busy social life interferes with working out.

    In Western society, adults think of a typical social event as an event where sweat is not invited. You get together for a party, drinks, concert, … As kids, you have your soccer team, volleyball club, track and field group, but when you advance into adultery, this seems to take a drastic change. Social event seem to be more often detrimental to your health and wallet (having drinks and unhealthy food) than beneficial.

    This does not have to be the case! Your social life can actually boost your health in a fun way. I’ll give you a personal example. Twice a week, I coach a bootcamp class for a group of women. Their fitness levels vary, so does their age, work schedule, … But they decided to combine their health goals and social lives by creating a group to work out together. The result: a group of friends having a lot of fun and getting fitter at the same time. Talk about catching two birds with one stone! All I am saying is that social life and fitness do not have to interfere. You can indeed get ahold of both at the same time.

  3.  What about grandma?

    Then there is your family. Getting your children to school/afterschool activities, making time for your significant other and other family members can be hard. You can do sports with them (guess who’s running an obstacle course with his father and sister tomorrow), but your 5yo son or 85yo grandmother probably won’t be all that interested. I’m here to tell you though that you can get more out of that quality time when you are fit.

    If you’ve ever been on a plane, you probably noticed that the instructional safety demo shows how you should always reach for your own air mask before you start helping others. At first glance, that might seem selfish. But when you think it though, you realize that this enables you to help others faster and better. It’s nice to help your kid to his air masairplane011k, but your 5 year old won’t be able to do the same to you when you passed out. The net result is that you can help more people when you take care of yourself first. Now compare this to your own life. Don’t you think you could be more energized, healthy, just a generally better version of yourself when you take care of your body by working out, and in that way be a better parent-husband-wife-family member? Wouldn’t everybody win from that scenario?

  4. But what if I already have little/no social/family life

    If you’ve reached this far, you must have a busy job or long working hours. Cutting out something in your life might seem impossible. I’m not going to tell you to stop working or look for another job. That’s why instead, you need to be creating time instead of having to cancel things. While I won’t go into too much detail (this post will already be a long one), here are some basic tips to help you with that.

    • Have a to-do list
    • Plan ahead
    • Put your workout in your agenda and make sure nothing can interfere
    • Do meal preparation 2-4 days at once
    • Try to multitask wherever possible
    • No more hitting the snooze button in the morning
    • Eliminate all distractions (cellphone, social media, …) while you are trying to focus
    • Stop focusing on dumb and irrelevant stuff (the picture in the slider is actually my current background picture on my laptop)

    A 30 minute home workout 3 times a week costs you 1.5 hour in total out of the 168 hours a week. Don’t you think your increased energy levels can help you get through those 166.5 other hours much better? Think of it as tanking gas. Would you attempt to drive 100 miles if you only had enough fuel for 50 miles, because your logic is you would lose time while stopping to fill up your tank?


  5. Really, I just can’t find the time

    I do understand that there other situations not listed here in which working out is really not an option. I have been through situations like that myself, in which working out is the least of your worries and things which are much more important are going on. But let’s be honest: 99% of people reading this are not in that situation. For the 1%, you can always leave a comment below or contact me personally if you would like any advice on this.

Getting more out of your workout

Lastly, here are some tips on keeping the workout itself to be short and getting the biggest bang for your buck:

  • If you are really lacking time, don’t go for a workout which takes you 20 minutes just to get there. Swimming is horrible for this reason. While it is a fantastic, low impact, full-body exercise, the actual percentage of time spent swimming compared to your total time spent driving, getting changed and actually working out is very low.
  • Plan your workout and what you want to do, so when it is time for action, you know exactly where to start and what to do.
  • If you are lacking ideas, go find a premade workout on YouTube. There are tons of them out there. They usually come in bunches, so you immediately have your ideas for the next workout as well.
  • Consider hiring a personal trainer who can come to your place and tell you exactly what to do.
  • Time your work sets and rest periods. There are 2 typical CrossFit modalities which are perfect for this: an EMOM (doing a certain amount of work every minute while taking the rest of the minute off) and an AMRAP (do as many rounds of a certain combination of exercises in a fixed amount of time). Since you know exactly how much time this will use up, there is no room for error.

So there you have it, an entire rant about how you can find the time needed to get in shape. Now go make grandma proud.