Photo By Hillary Ehlen
I can’t find the time… This is by far the most common answer I receive from potential clients when asking what their biggest obstacle is in the way of their success. In all honesty, it can seem difficult to organize time and find the motivation to exercise, make healthy meal planning a priority and take time for oneself. With a strong plan and the implementation of some effective habits and routines to save and maximize time, however, it’s actually easier than you think.
For my wife, Carissa, and I, things were pretty easy for the first ten years of our marriage when it came to workouts, healthy meals and taking time to relax. Upon adopting our daughter, Zahra, life was turned upside down a bit. Even though our days are now filled with nuclear fallout diapers and Alexa being constantly bombarded to play “Baby Shark” and “The Gummy Bear Song” yet again, we’ve found methods that work for us to prioritize staying healthy and energized.
One of the trickiest pieces of the puzzle and balancing act is planning workouts. As would be expected, this was no problem before our daughter was placed with us. It’s now taken some careful planning and time tradeoffs, nevertheless, for each of us to prioritize gym time. We’ve swapped a bit of free time in the evenings by heading to bed earlier in exchange for getting in morning workouts. Carissa heads to the gym on weekdays at 5:05 a.m., and I go around 6:10 a.m. as soon as she returns and we’re able to trade roles. This was a big change for us initially, and we almost scrapped the plan after six weeks, but we decided to commit to it and stuck with it. Being accustomed to the early mornings now, neither of us could imagine it any differently, due to the elevated energy and efficiency it provides throughout the day.
Meal Planning & Prep
We’ve managed to break down weekly meal planning, a keystone habit for us, into a weekly 10-minute task. Before heading to the grocery store and our favorite, Costco, we take a look at our calendars to see exactly what’s going on for the next week. Who is going where what day? What do we have time for in the evenings? That determines how many and the types of meals to prep. From there, we list out what we’d like to make for the week, taking into account on-hand items and plugging those meals into the days where they fit best for time allowed and planned leftovers. Also, we’re sure to prep as many items as possible at once, planning for needed meal items later in the week. For example, if we need hamburger fried and vegetables chopped for a planned meal on Thursday, we’ll take care of those where time allows while prepping a meal earlier in the week.
We rarely run out of meal ideas because we’ve created a master list that hangs in our cupboard of over one-hundred meals and sides that we’re constantly adding to. Once we’ve planned the week, we create our list of exactly what we need for those exact meals, keeping the grocery runs short, cost-effective and efficient.
Coordinate Calendars & Lists
With having a two-year-old daughter and myself scheduling online calls, client meetings and on-site visits, it’s vital for each of us to know where the other is and what’s going on. There are numerous shared calendar and list sharing apps available out there to help get you and your significant other on the same page, but we’ve personally found success by just sharing our Google and work calendars. If you want, you can even go as far as plugging meals into the calendar for each day. As with anything, communication upfront saves an enormous amount of time in the end.
Self-Development & Growth
This is one area where we’ve really made great strides and have seen positive results in the last few years. Our evenings that were once filled with binge-watching yet another season of “Breaking Bad” or “Sons of Anarchy” are now frequently spent with each of us reading a self-development book with the TV on in the background. Don’t get me wrong, we still make time for some Netflix or a movie now and then, but we’ve never gotten into deeper discussions or had a closer relationship since putting a stronger focus on ourselves, self-growth and more purpose-driven intentions.
In the end, a bit of planning, organization and communication has made us much more highly efficient, allowing us to squeeze more life and living out of our days. What’s made us most successful is sticking to the habits we’ve created. Just like anybody else, though, we fail to plan once in a while and things don’t work out perfectly. Those are the days and weeks where our rhythm is thrown off and things can quickly become a hot mess. We’re always sure, however, to quickly get back on track as soon as possible by getting back to the basics.
It will take some experimentation in finding what works best for you and your family, but by focusing on being more solution-oriented, developing regular habits and getting clear on your intentions you’ll make progress toward your health goals and living your life with more balance and fulfillment.