Time. We all have it, but we all don’t have it.
Time is a funny thing. It seems to fly, to drag, or even be viewed as an adversary that we have to control or conquer.
At one time or another, we will all say, “I don’t have time.” Or, “I wish I had more time.” Or “There aren’t enough hours in the day.”
There are tons of books, articles, blogs, and podcasts dedicated to how to make the most of our time, either during the day or during our time on this planet. Time management seems to have become a buzz word.
When There is No Time for Healthy Eating and Exercise
First of all, I would like to offer some solace. For many of us with jobs, families, and other commitments, it can seem impossible to carve out a bit of time to figure out a healthy diet or be consistent with exercise. Some of us wish we had someone to cook all our meals for us, do the shopping, or ferry the kids around.
But let’s say that deep down you would like to be eating better (not grabbing fast food for a meal or quick snack), and fitting in more exercise (because you know it will make you feel better).
What to Do? The Time Management Answer
For an answer, I thought I would take a gander at what sort of programs are out there to help us manage our time. Turns out there are Rules, Analyses, Techniques, Matrices, Methods, Formulas, and Theories. Then there’s books like Eat that Frog, The Checklist Manifesto, or even Anti-Time Management.
Lots of these systems profess to be “proven,” but at best the research on them relies on anecdotes. After all, how can you test a particular system to see if it works? What would you test? Having said that, you COULD do a survey to find out if people started to have more time to eat better and get more exercise. But, quite frankly, I have not seen any theories being tested for that!
Most of the time, the systems seem to be about getting more productive at work. Or, as in the case of the Eisenhower Matrix, finding the time to do everything when you are the Allied Forces Commander. At the very least, many systems for saving time seem to assume that you are tied to a desk all day with lots to do, and have a fair amount of control over the tasks you tackle. It assumes distractions, but not the kind that send you out to pick the kids up from soccer practice or make sure the repair person shows up on time. Often it seems that the goal is to become super productive at work, utilizing daily planners and checklists, making every minute count.
Making time for Healthy Eating and Exercise
What if you just want to find the time to eat better and exercise more? Here’s where it is about developing some important skills. Some may be easier than others to implement. Here they are, in a nutshell:
1. Say no to some things. Sometimes these things may be very appealing, like going for a drink after work with some colleagues. Sometimes, it’s great to have an excuse to say no, like when you know it’s about time to scrub down the shower. The point: You can create some time for some exercise or meal planning by making it a priority and getting it on your schedule.
2. Stay flexible and give yourself several options. The point: Instead of thinking you have to spend at least 30 minutes on exercise, or create a fabulous, healthy meal, you figure out how to do a partial exercise session or a “pretty good” meal that is in line with your eating and exercise goals.
3. Get your friends/family/colleagues on board. You let them know you will not be available at times you have scheduled for exercise or a healthy meal. This includes ordering a healthy option when out with others even though they may be expecting you to share the hot wings and fries. The point: Those around you will get used to your lifestyle. AND you do not need their permission! Take charge and do this for yourself.
4. This one may be the hardest of all, but here it is. You will be giving up some of your cherished habits. Switching to healthy eating may mean you start to give up some things that are near and dear to you. Here I would like to refer back to many of the time management systems. Implied in all of them is that you suddenly get the discipline required to follow the system. What’s left out is the emotional side, the cravings, the attachment to certain behaviors. The point: Instead of making a “to do” list, make a list of which foods you can switch for something healthier. Make a list of things you could enjoy as an activity. Keep it specific, and then plug into items 1-3 above.
This is by no means detailed enough, but it may give you (or someone you know) a way to start managing things differently. Not just making the time, but taking into account the social and emotional side of changing some of your habits.
© 2022 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.
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