How To Be A Time Magician – Aurora Arlt

Aurora Arlt – @Aurora_HealthyFit

Question: What is the #1 most common excuse you hear when people start talking about their inability to get into shape or eating healthier?

Answer: “I don’t have time.”

I’m sure we have all used this as an excuse before. Which isn’t surprising considering how busy our lives are. There are dozens of competing priorities with unplanned things popping up all of the time. Some days it’s just one thing after the other with no time to relax and take a second. So, when we do get that opportunity to take a deep breath, we turn into living vegetables – our bodies glued to the couch and our eyes fixed on the TV.

We justify this behavior by acting as if it’s our reward, like we are treating ourselves for being so busy and doing as much as we do. The problem is that this “reward” or others like it (sweet treats, alcohol, etc.) are usually more damaging to our goals than they are helpful.

And with all of that in mind, it’s no wonder most people have this perceived lack of time. Working out and preparing healthy meals seems like an impossible task for a lot of people.

BUT that is why I am here – to tell you that YOU have the power to “create” time.

Like a freakin’ time magician.

It sounds crazy, I know. But to clarify, we of course will not literally be creating time. However, we will be able to locate pockets of time you may not have realized you had if you hadn’t (graciously) read through this article.

So, here it is – The Time Diary Exercise.

  • What you will need:
    • Paper, pencil, pen, and highlighter
  • What to do:
    • Separate an average day into 15 minute increments.
    • Starting from the time you wake up, describe how you spent each block of time.
      • 6:00am: Alarm went off; scrolled through Facebook
      • 6:30am: Shower
      • 7:15am: Spent 10 minutes picking out clothes
      • 7:30am: Grabbed a pop-tart; left for work
      • Etc.
    • Next, take your highlighter and highlight the blocks of time where you were either wasting time or could be doing something more productive (i.e. scrolling through Facebook or looking for keys).
    • Finally, pencil in above or next to the highlighted area how you think you might better spend that time. Also, notate ways that might help you to be more efficient with how you spend that time.
      • For example, with the missing keys scenarios – set-up a nightly routine where you get your outfit and everything together for the next day to free up those 10 minutes in the morning.
      • With those 10 minutes, you can cook up (or blend up) a healthier on-the-go breakfast option.
      • OR you can even get in a quick 10 minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) session!
  • Result:
    • You have now created time – time that you can use to do things you want to be doing in order to live out a healthier, happier life.

It may not seem like a lot at first, but think about this:

10 minutes of HIIT cardio over the course of a week is 70 minutes of cardio you would not have done otherwise. 70 minutes of high intensity cardio each week can do A LOT for a person. It may not be the drastic change you might be hoping for, but it will help push you in the right direction. Some effort is better than no effort.

BONUS – Time Saving Tips

After doing the time diary exercise, some of you may have found that there was no extra time in your day, or not enough consecutive time slots to really do anything about it. My first suggestion would be to urge you to consider waking up a little earlier each day over the course of a few months. 10 minutes earlier every 1-2 weeks until you’re up to a full 60 minutes. This is another great way of creating time for yourself. 1 extra (uninterrupted) hour a day first thing in the morning to dedicate to yourself and your goals.  I realize most people will be resistant to this suggestion, but I think it’s the best one I have!

So, here are two other time saving tips:

#1 – Temptation Bundling

This is when you bundle something you really enjoy doing with something you really don’t enjoy doing but still have to do. For example, I’m not really a fan of running, but I absolutely love reading. Because I’m training for a Spartan Ultra, I kind of have to go for runs. So, what I have done is purchased two audiobooks, of which I can only listen to while I run. How is this time saving? Instead of just sitting for an hour reading a book and then going for an hour run, I get both done AT THE SAME TIME. Giving myself 1 whole extra hour while making sure I still complete my priorities.

Think about doing this with your favorite TV shows or movies. Save a particular show for your bundling and commit to only watching it while you are doing some form of exercise (or chore) you dislike. Trust me, this type of efficiency while taking care of yourself feels awesome!

#2 – 55 Minute Sprints

Something I noticed is that even though I may sit in front of my computer “working” for 4 hours, I don’t get 4 hours worth of work done. I’m distracted by my phone, by other people, thirsty, hungry…just not fully focused. So, I started this thing where I set a timer for 55 minutes. I put on my headphones, and I complete as much work as possible in those 55 minutes with undivided attention. I then give myself a 10-15 minute break to walk around, look at my phone, grab some water, or grab a snack. I will do these 55 minute sprints combined with 10-15 minute breaks throughout my work day.

What I have found is that by creating a sense of urgency to get work done during those 55 minutes, my productivity has skyrocketed.  I’m not burdened at the end of the work day with this pile of work left to do. This tip might be helpful in allowing you to get your work done sooner in order to free up time in the evening to meal prep or workout or create another healthy habit.

Remember this – We don’t get back time…once we spend it, it is gone…forever. We will never get that time back. So be mindful of how you choose to spend your time. Spend it on things that bring value to your life, that make you happy, and that make you healthy. We all need a break from everything sometimes, but the more time you “waste” by doing nothing means the less time you will have to spend chasing greatness. So, go be great!

Until next time

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