Time Isn’t an Excuse
Training can have a remarkable effect on all aspects of your life. Improving physical fitness will make you healthier and better able to cope with stress. You will look better and feel more confident. Your psychological being will be far better off. Training can help make you a better father or mother, a better husband or wife, and it can allow you to enjoy more of the things you love. And yet people still refuse to invest the necessary time.
Much of the training discussion focuses on training and nutrition, but one of the biggest obstacles people have when it comes to training is finding enough time. Time management seems to be the biggest determinant in a person’s success in any given training program.
The first question I always ask when it comes to writing someone a program is, “How much time can you commit each day and each week?” If you tell me you have twenty hours a week and you can train twice a day, I can write you the best program in the world. On the other hand, if you tell me you only have one hour to train each week and can only make the gym twice, my hands are tied. There’s no magic I can work at that point.
I’ve trained many different types of people with varying commitment levels. On average I am disappointed with the amount of time people are willing to commit. So I want to make one thing clear: time is not an excuse. The real issue is usually that a person isn’t dedicated enough or has poor time management skills.
Case in Point
There are 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week, which totals 168 total hours. That is a lot of time to fit everything you need into your schedule. When I encounter a person who claims he or she doesn’t have enough time, we go through an exercise together. We examine where their time is going. Essentially, I perform an audit on their schedule.
I ask a person how many hours they spend at work in a week. For the purpose of this exercise I will assign seventy hours to work. That is a person who works fourteen hours a day, Monday to Friday.
Then I assign that person eight hours of sleep a night. I don’t ask them, I tell them, because at this point everyone says they can’t get that much sleep (which is entirely another issue I could address). That is a total of 56 hours of sleep in a week. The person now stands at 126 total hours used out of a possible 168.
Then I ask what the hell they do with the rest of their time. I remind them they have 42 hours left. They start shouting out things like, “I have to commute to work,” “I have to go grocery shopping,” “I need to spend time with my family.” I assign them values for these. I give them two hours a day for commuting time, which adds to ten hours for the five days of work. I give them three hours per week to grocery shop, and I give them twenty hours in quality time (without the phone or any outside distractions) to spend with their family per week. That brings their total to 159 hours.
They still have nine hours left to train. Usually the person gets the message by this point.
The funniest thing about this exercise is that most people who say they don’t have time to train don’t actually work seventy hours a week. They don’t sleep eight hours a night, don’t commute that far, and don’t spend that much quality time with their family. So they end up having a lot more than nine hours a week to train. Do you wonder where all their time goes? I have an idea: TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messages, screwing around, etc.
If you really believe that you can’t find enough time, then two issues need to be addressed. The first is time management and the second is your level of commitment and desire. I can’t help you with the latter. Commitment and desire must come from within. But hopefully I can help you with time management.
Be the Dentist
The first step in taking back your life and freeing up time is to take command of your schedule. Don’t let others plan your schedule for you. It’s your schedule and your life so you make the rules. Your time is the most precious commodity you have. It is the one thing that you can give and never get back. Treat it like it is important. Be dominant and make protecting your schedule your ultimate priority.
Force other people to work around your schedule. When you make appointments don’t ask, “When works for you?” and then get stuck in appointment that you don’t like or that wreaks havoc on your schedule. Tell them when you can make time for them. Start planning your schedule in a way that allows you to train. If you claim your training is important, then you will protect it. People always make time for things that are important to them, like their favorite television show or a night out with friends. Why not do it with training?
I know a businessman who routinely tells people he cannot meet with them between 11am and 1pm. He also tells his secretary not to take meetings during that time. When people ask, she politely says, “I’m sorry, there are already meetings booked during that time. Are there any other times that work for you?” People don’t need to know he is going to gym or doing other things. They respect the fact that he is unavailable and acquiesce to another time. Job done.
Think back to a time you called the dentist and attempted to make an appointment. You ask to make an appointment and the receptionist gives you a time. It’s usually a few weeks out at a time that works best for them. For argument’s sake, say they tell you November 11th at 10am. You say you cannot make 10am because you have to work. So she advises November 19th at 3pm. You say the same thing and tell her you work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. So she suggestsNovember 27th at 9am. Once again, it is on a weekday between 9am and 5pm.
So what do you do? You say you’ll take the first appointment and rearrange your schedule to make it work. Why do you do this? Because your teeth are important and you have to make time for them. The dentist isn’t going to come in at some time that doesn’t work for his or her schedule. The dentist isn’t going to come in at 6am on a Tuesday morning because you decided that works best for you. They will not skip their lunch or stay late for you. You are at their mercy. Learn from this.
When it comes to your schedule, be the dentist. You’re the boss, you make the decisions, you make the schedule.
Avoid Time Wasters
There are a few common time-wasters. I will address three here: commuting, people, and your cell phone.
If you have a long commute, do whatever you can to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Sitting in a traffic jam is dead time. Avoid busy times by leaving your home earlier in the morning and/or coming home later.
For example, I have a friend who lives in a busy urban center. If he leaves his home at 7am, he can barely make it to work by 9am. Sometimes he is late. If he leaves at 6:15am he gets there by 7am and has time left to train and shower at a local gym. At the end of the day he does the same. If he leaves at 5pm, he gets home at7pm. If he leaves at 6:30pm, he gets home at 7:15pm (only 15 minutes later) and created an extra hour and a half in his schedule. He saved almost four hours in his day just by adjusting his commute times. That is a lot of time to accomplish your goals.
The Cell Phone
Most people don’t have a concept of how much time they waste daily on their phone. So do me a favor. Every time you check your phone for a text message or social media update, do five burpees. You will learn fast how much of a time suck the phone can be. I bet most of you waste hours of time each day. The cell phone also makes your other tasks take much longer because it’s a distraction.
Have some self-control. Put the phone away sometimes. Don’t be so attached. Sounds easy enough, right?
You can’t be everything to everyone and you can’t give everything to everyone. There are people (you know the ones I am talking about) who enjoy talking your ear off, ask you for help when they don’t really need it, or show up late to appointments you have with them. Learn the power of saying “no.” Be kind, be nice, but know it is okay to protect your time. Time is precious. Spend it on those who deserve and respect it.
Be Creative With Your Training
If there is a time you really cannot get to the gym, then start to get creative with your training. Doing repetitions every hour on the hour can be powerful. How many push ups do you think you’ve done this year? 1,000? 2,000? More? Try doing ten push ups ten times throughout the day. You could do ten every hour or five every half hour. If you could accumulate 100 a day, you would accumulate 36,500 by the end of the year. Not bad, especially since it’s easy. It doesn’t take much to fit into your schedule and you won’t even break a sweat. You could do the same with squats, pull ups (if you have a bar in your house that hangs from the door frame), or lunges. It is incredible how this volume approach adds up.
Multitasking is another helpful tool. When you watch your favorite show or football on Sundays, do work during commercial breaks or every few minutes, rather than just sitting on your ass. I remember once watching The Lord of the Rings with my son. It’s one of his favorite movies. Do you know how many burpees, push ups, and lunges you can get done in a three-hour movie? It doesn’t take away from the movie. You could also have an exercise bike in the living room. I have routinely ridden a Fan Bike while watching some of my favorite shows. This is the kind of thing committed people do.
Just remember, time is a precious commodity. Protect it and respect it. We are all capable of making time for the things we love. Learn to make time for your training. It could change your life. You just have to want it.