This week its all about squeezing workouts into your schedule. That new year’s resolution to get fit might be getting a little dusty by now or at least harder to get done. Working out under ideal conditions is great but it sure can take a lot of time. I would like to have time to digest my food and pick the perfect outfit then workout. After I’d like to have time for a bubble bath and then reapply all of my makeup before doing anything else important or leave it to the end of my day. The reality though is that almost never happens. Lots of times from daylight to dark I’m busy at work, sometimes later and then I have all the other life stuff to do. Chances are the same is true for you. Late in the evening isn’t great either since it can keep you up and I like to be outside. We’ve already learned how to keep your makeup looking great if you wear it to work out and how to get away without a shower after. So now that we know how to get a workout in when you’re tight for time so it’s time to focus on where to find the time!
You might not be able to start something else big but you could get a workout in. You’ll notice throughout this post that I often talk about running just because it’s so easy but the same could be said of some yoga, a bike ride, stretching, weight training or a nice walk. Plus I love running. I make a case for the ease and efficiency in this post called why running.
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Time making ideas
- Laundromat runs
I discovered this during a summer drought. Are your laundry and change piling up? Will it take you three or even more loads to catch up. If so load the car head to the local laundromat, put all your loads on at the same time. Go biking, running or walking. Then come back to do the changeover and keep exercising while it drys. All your clothes are clean faster and you just got in a workout.
- While someone else shops
We do a lot of shopping together at the home improvement store but not really other sorts of shopping say for groceries. When we do we spend a lot of time talking over choices plus it doubles the number of people you might run into for chatting. If you’re looking to squeeze in a workout let the person shop on their own and you go running for example. There is a significant non-zero chance that person will shop faster. Plus had you gone shopping you might have bought something you didn’t need so you might even save a few bucks.
Time neutral ideas
- Waiting for something to finish
There are lots of times around the house that you are waiting for something to finish like the washer, rice maker, dishwasher or something to charge before you go on to the next step. This is the perfect time to sneak in some fitness time. Also, consider working out while you wait for things to happen away from the house. One great example is what I did today while waiting at the mechanics. I usually do some writing there but it’s not all that efficient and I never get as much done as I had hoped. Bring your gear with you and check two boxes at once. Other ideas include waiting to drive people home from medical appointments or surgeries, realistically you’re not going to be asked to scrub in.
- While the kids are learning something
When my sister was a young teenager and then when honey’s kids were the same age I was forever driving them to places and then waiting for them to do or learn something then leaving again. There really wasn’t a point in going home for 10 minutes just to get back in the car, that was just a waste of gas and going shopping meant buying makeup I really didn’t need. When it was my sister’s turn hundreds of hours of studying happened in the back seat and a few runs. For the kids I’d usually hide the keys or give the keys to them go running and whoever got back to the car won.
The worst was waiting for dances and ski trips to end that could go on for upwards of an hour with unpredictable outcomes. For dances, I’d get there a bit early get a good spot next to the door and aim to be back about 15 minutes after the dance was over. That way they had time to dilly dally with their friends on the way out and I wasn’t annoyed. Either I’d only wait a few minutes for them or they’d be sitting there when I got back and we’d leave. If you’re devoting your whole evening to them they can wait for 10 minutes in a nice dry car for you. But if that still makes you uncomfortable there are lots of things kids to that have a hard endpoint. This is by far one of the best places to steal time for an hour-long workout and save gas!
- Right after supper-ish
That hour right after supper or thereabout is a perfect time to workout and basically its sort of wasted time. It also might help you keep your dinner light which could be a good thing too. At my house, we eat supper, which I cook and then I sit down and play stupid games and try to finish the internet again before I maybe get up and do some chores. This goes on for at least an hour to 3 before I go upstairs and write. It’s my downtime for the day. Right after supper is a great time to work out since you’re fueled up and it’s not too close to bedtime to get all jazzed up. Even if you have to leave again that evening you can probably accomplish those things in workout clothes and before a shower. The dishes can wait and with a little planning, quick dinners can be accomplished. Also if someone else is the cooker in your house consider getting active while they cook!
- Lunch breaks
Lots of us don’t take a lunch break anymore or we’re only given 30 minutes. I was one of those eat at your desk while working types. But a least once a week everyone is entitled to a lunch break. Pick the right day of the week schedule wise to get your fitness on if you sometimes work close to others and care about that sort of thing. Now would be a great time to check out my top tips for skipping a show post workout. Some other ideas are taking your lunch break a little later in the day to workout or talking to your boss about alternate break arrangements. Say you get half an hour for lunch every day see if you can have a 15-minute break instead and then get that hour and 15 minutes back say on Friday afternoons to workout. If it’s a hard and fast 30 minutes at a specific time every day a 15-minute power walk can cover upwards of a mile a day.
- Replacing hobby time or relax time
I play two stilly iPad games which other than filling my relax time do nothing for my life. If I wanted to find more time to dedicate to fitness I could delete these. The thing is these downtimes fillers in our lives are probably good for our mental health. But I would argue that taking care of yourself by getting moving is even better for your health overall including mental health.
- Watching TV
I’m not saying replace your TV time but add to it. We all know sitting down for one episode turns into three. Add to that you’re probably on your phone too and you’ve just proven you can multitask. Why not grab some weights, do some yoga or do a resistance workout while you watch. If you own a large piece of fitness equipment drag it in front of the TV and get started. Really all you need is a mat to multitask here.
- Thinking time
Some jobs and life situations necessitate times of dedicated thinking and brainstorming. If that describes you even if you have no interest in fitness you should try moving while you’re thinking. It does so much to clarify and streamline your thoughts. Moving while thinking deep thoughts makes the whole process much smoother and those ideas flow more easily.
Time minimal ideas
- Early in the day
If you have a busy chaotic life early in the morning is best. For a lot of us even if we have the best of intentions the day gets away from us and our plans to workout go by the wayside. While not totally time neutral its time you’re normally sleeping so… In order to minimize the sleep lost try to get to bed a bit earlier the night before. If you’re not naturally a morning person, neither am I, you might find this post helpful.
- Weekend classes
We all have so much to do during the week but there is a good chance you can sign up for a class at some point on the weekend and stick to it. Make it a grocery shopping and fitness outing and kill two birds with one stone. There’s a better chance you’ll stick to it if you’re paying for it so classes work well for some dedicated self-care date time.
- As a social outing
Lots of us want to spend more time with our friends as take better care of ourselves. Why not do both at the same time? Meet up for a walk and a chat, take a hike together or go to the gym. This is again a way to get two things done at once and probably enjoy both of them first. Plus you’ll end up with a way better Instagram shot for your efforts! Having a fitness date arranged makes it way more likely you’ll actually do it too!
- Family time
Want your kids to have a great weekend away from screens? Organize a family outing every other weekend or so where you all get active together. Go skating, biking, swimming or curling as a family. Your kids will love it and they’ll have the best story for school on Monday. That and you can avoid watching frozen for the 752nd time!
- Picking up and dropping off the kids
If you live close enough to the school, piano teacher, pool, friend’s house or soccer field why not walk over instead of driving? Sure it takes a few minutes longer but it also keeps them busy longer too. It also fosters a love of getting moving in your whole family and it’s a great way to teach your kids about the environment and show you care too.
- Active transport
Finally, there are lots of errands you can do while being active. Last year I made it a resolution to do more of the things I HAVE to do without my car. So I bike with a backpack to the grocery store, pharmacy and farmers market in my little town. I run home when dropping my car off at the mechanic or rack my bike on it. I’ll check the mail at the box down the road and get a 4k run in. Sometimes I’ll even stop into the local pizza place and order while running and meet the guy when I get home, how cool is that?
Pick one or two of these things and do it every week without fail. Grab a few more and incorporate them in once a month or so and a few more once and a while. It’s actually pretty easy to find half an hour three times a week to get moving. With a little more planning an hour is also possible. If you want to take on a big challenge like a half marathon it really is possible to find the time for a few months at least. What are you’re favorite places to find the time to workout? Any super efficient ideas I left out?
If your super duper busy maybe check this post out on what if you really are too busy to exercise!