Core necessities during the day sometimes leave us with limited time to focus on what I call "me tasks." Over the years having my own company to run has left me with a schedule that can be unpredictable at times. I spend much of my day tending to the needs of my clients. I notice this with other fitness professionals and very busy entrepreneurs as well. Some days we could meet with as many as ten clients. This means the time between appointments, regardless of how brief it can be, must be used effectively. While these blocks of space are usually used for either changing locations, running errands, crossing off daily tasks, eating, or preparing for our next meeting, I will usually multitask within them and squeeze my "me tasks" in to ensure I accomplish my personal daily goals as well.
I've realized that for many of us, having micro blocks of time, say five minutes here or three minutes there, can make it difficult to feel that we can accomplish anything for ourselves. However, small preparation tasks that allow for easier mobilization into personal activities later don't really take that much time. Many times I use these few spare minutes to strategize about making sure I get my workout in. Preplanning a few small details throughout my day helps me avoid time wasting, opportunities to get lazy, and interruptions from people before I can get to my workout.
With that in mind here are things you can use three- to five-minute clips of your day to blueprint in order to limit the possibility of distraction before you get to the gym or wherever you work out.
1. Know what you're going to wear to work out.
Whether you work out at home or at a gym, take five minutes to set aside exercise clothes for that day. If you have to get to a gym and stop home to change, you're opening up the flood gates of distractions. Your significant other, your kids, or the broken closet door are all potential obstacles. Even if you work out at home, taking too much time to pick out clothes can result in "lying down just for a second," which leads to a nap, and oops you missed your workout window.
2. Decide what your meal will be after your sweat session.
Doing this allows you to be fully present during your workout and not obsessing over food. Let's face it, we love food and it's always in our face. This will relieve any anxiety about whether the place you want to pick up from will be open, or how much time it will take to make your meal after you're done. Additionally, it can help you make a healthier decision and not ruin the workout you just spent an hour blasting out.
3. Pick your playlist.
Waiting until you get to the gym to create your power animal playlist is too late. Wasting just five minutes fooling around with your iPhone at the gym could mean the difference between getting the spot you want in the squat rack or having to wait an extra ten minutes for Johnny Biceps to stop curling with the Olympic bar.
4. Dial up some motivation.
Not excited about working out later? You have Instagram to refer to if pictures of nice butts and chiseled abs get you feeling like you need to pump some iron. TED talks are sometimes as quick as five minutes, accessible on an app, and make you want to reinvent yourself one cell at a time. Or, you can start to listen to your power up playlist while on line for your coffee. Whatever works, five minutes is more than enough time to find some #inspiration
5. Stretch or start your dynamic warm up.
Yes, I'm on line at the bank doing hip circles and quad stretches. No, I don't care what you think. You may laugh now but when I get to that rower before you and start my intervals immediately because I don't have to worry about getting injured, you'll be singing a different tune. Oh, you're feeling tight in your hamstrings and glutes? Well three minutes gives you an opportunity to do six different static stretches for 30 second holds each. That could make you feel like a new person during a stressful work day.
Sometimes having a stressful day can block us from seeing the good in working out later. Taking a few minutes to squash anxiety can be very helpful in these moments. I've written about the benefits of meditation before. The truth is, an easy way to get in the habit of meditating for longer periods is to start with small shorter blocks of time. Three to five minutes of focused breathing is enough to recharge your battery. When you start to realize the benefits from such small amounts of it, you'll start doing it more.
I hope these tactics have helped you see that having just a few minutes for "me tasks" can still make your life easier. Work, family, and relationships are all very important, but it's equally important to help yourself as well. A little creativity and anticipation goes a long way.
I would love to hear from you about things you get done in brief amounts of time. Leave a comment if you have some ideas to share!