We all get the same numbers of hours every day, the same number of days in the week, the same number of weeks in a month and so on and so - we are all given the same amount of time to work with - how is then that something people managed to be ridiculously productive in all facets of life and yet others are constantly struggling to find time to do anything.
As someone that's been in the fitness industry for a decent amount of time (creeping up to 10 years) its something I've heard more times than I care to remember either a) I don't have time to exercise at all or b) (particularly relevant to CrossFit) I don't have enough time to do all the extra training i need to do to make the Games (or be as good as person X), we’ve already established that everyone is on the same playing field in terms of raw material of hours in the day - so what's the ticket to getting more out of your day? We don't have all the answers for you but might have a bit of food for thought for you so without further ado its our Guide to Getting the Most Out of the Hours You Got or (GGMOHYG for short).
We can break it down into two main areas -
Time Management - this is typically what people think of when thinking about wasted hours in the day, how are you breaking up the hours of the day and allocating tasks that need to be done.
Time Utilisation - this could be bundled under time management, but I like to keep it separately, summed up I think of it as maximising opportunities that are there at that present moment or commonly known as WYABTN (Wherever You Are, Be There Now)
Lets start with the easy one - Time Management, and for the record I will be biasing this article towards using your time for health and fitness but can easily be adapted to any area of your life. There are hundreds of guides to better time management available (online, books etc), they offer multiple different strategies but they do have one thing in common - you need to actually follow the strategies for them to work (just reading 4 hour Work Week doesnt make it so…). Probably the most common thread with all of them is have a plan, a plan allows you to prioritise and as I have said in previous articles you will always make time for something that's important to you.
A good place to start is to write a list of what you NEED to get done in a week, then a 2nd column with what you WANT to get done in a week and lastly a 3rd column with a ?QUESTION MARK at the top of other things that you can think of that take up chunks of your day ie watching Game of Thrones, staring into space, folding socks but don't fall into the NEED/WANT columns. Once you have everything down start ordering them in list of importance (prioritise them). Here’s where things might get a little crazy - once you have things listed under NEED and WANT each week you might want to look at shifting certain things from the WANT column to the NEED column, using our training example - if you find you’re pretty inconsistent with your gym attendance (and you want it to improve), shift “Going to Crossfit 3 x a week” from the WANT column to the NEED column, make it something on paper that you deem to be important to you, prioritise it and as I said earlier - you will make time for things that are important to you.
So in this process you will figure out what is important to you, the other side of that coin is you will also be able to determine what is perhaps eating up chunks of your day but perhaps isn't that vital to your existence. Now with this you might be able to start taking things away from NEED and shifting it to WANT (do you NEED to spend 45mins watching YouTube videos every day?) or even the ?QUESTION MARK column
Once you start figuring this out and you start taking time away from the stuff that doesn’t matter so much, shock horror you are going to find that you suddenly have more time for the things that are important to you. By the way even if you take nothing else away from this article - merely the act of figuring out what is important to you is an incredibly powerful thing, if you’ve never done it - maybe it's about time you did?
Now that we’ve squeezed some extra hours out of you day, the next part of the process is time utilisation and making the most of out the time you have. This is where we bring in one of my favourite words - “opportunity” - the dictionary definition being “a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”
Here’s the cool thing about Opportunities, as soon as you realise that most of them aren't actually handed out and that you can do a DIY job and make your own - a whole lot more of them become available to you.
Case in point - rather than thinking about all the extra training you need to do to get better at CrossFIt, look at every class you already get to and think of that session right then and there as an opportunity to get better. Rather than just ticking a box with the warmup and moving through it mindlessly, think about areas you are trying to improve on and see the opportunities that are available to you. Got a poor overhead position? 5 walkouts in the warmup?, PERFECT! Rather than just shuffling in and out and thinking about the workout, take the 2 extra seconds to focus on using that walkout to open up your shoulders a little bit more.
A simple way to think of it and it can be applied to many things in life is the concept of :-
WYABTN - Wherever You Are, Be There Now
You will be amazed at how much more productive you are simply through actually being present, giving yourself a little reminder to focus on what you are doing right there and then. By always thinking about what you are going to do next or what else you need to be doing, you in fact lose sight of the opportunity in front of you there and then, you might think you are the most efficient multitasker in the history of the universe ever - you are not. In the age of social media and technology it is incredibly difficult to focus on any one task, but it is not impossible, something that will help with this is knowing what’s important to you (Part 1 of this article anyone…?) - if you’ve have determined improving your handstand is important, then when you have a chance to work on it in a class you will actually be focused and consciously trying to improve rather than thinking about the 20min AMRAP coming up next.
Be Present. (WYABTN)
Closing notes - The angle of this article was tilted towards getting back at the gym but these principles are universal and that there is carry over (success breeds success) to all aspects of your life, if you start deciding what's important to you and trying to really be present with whatever you are doing - it’s only going to work out well for you. I'm not suggesting you should be working 24/7 and spend every waking minute driving yourself into the ground, what I am saying is be present with whatever you are doing - chances are it will take less time than when you were distracted which is going to leave you more time (which in turn you will utilise more effectively than you would have before…)
We’ve all got the same 24 hours in the day, make a conscious choice to make the most out of each of them - remember every hour we get is a single use item, once it's gone you can't get it back.