Whether it’s because we’re unorganized, unmotivated, or simply over-tasked, we’re all too busy. If I were to ask you to dedicate an extra hour each day for something, you’d laugh and call me crazy. However, what if I asked for a fraction of that? What if I wanted 30 minutes of your day and promised that the time investment would actually increase your productivity each day? Not only that, but you’d potentially live longer, perhaps be happier, and definitely have more energy.
That doesn’t sound like a bad deal. A little prep work, a small time investment, and loads of new attitudes and productivity gains. Where is the catch?
Ha! Good question. The catch is that you have to take a little action – and the sooner the better. As Edward Stanley said:
Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.
I know, a new episode of Dancing with the Stars is on, but listen up; this is an important message because even a small change to your habits can equal a complete reversal to your health.
So how can we find time to lead a healthier lifestyle? Here are five ways:
- Apply the 80/20 Principle
Okay, you have a busy life. It’s unrealistic for you to spend an hour every night cooking dinner from scratch. But that doesn’t mean ditching any attempt at having a healthy evening meal. Instead of getting take-out or surviving on frozen pizza, how about making a stir-fry from some ready-prepared veggies, some quick-cook noodles and some fresh prawns or cooked chicken? It’ll only take you ten minutes.Look for other areas of your health where you can get 80% of the health benefits from 20% of the time investment. If driving to the gym, getting changed, working out and showering takes up far too much of your evening … why not go for a 30 minute walk in your lunch hour instead?
- Fit Exercise Around Your Day
I’m a big believer in fitting exercise around the rest of life. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes per day (an hour is better). Cycling to work, walking or jogging in your lunch hour, taking a stroll round the local park with your partner in the evening, vacuuming the house, playing Frisbee with the kids… they all count.You don’t need to be working out in a gym, or following a strenuous jogging program, in order to see real health benefits.
- Get Up Fifteen Minutes Early
Don’t groan. Setting your alarm clock fifteen minutes earlier won’t make a huge difference to how awake you feel in the morning – but it could give you that vital time you need to prepare (and eat) a healthy breakfast, and to brown-bag lunch … saving you from the greasy canteen food or the local fast food joint at work.Fifteen minutes is plenty of time to manage some of these:
- Measure out a sensible serving of cereal (you’ll be surprised how little 40g is), add milk, and eat!
- Make sandwiches for lunch, using lean meat, low-fat spread and veggies.
- Sit quietly and think about the day ahead: how can you fit in some exercise? What food-related temptations are likely to arise?
- Plan what you’re eating in the evening: get meat out of the freezer to defrost, if necessary, and check stocks of other ingredients in case you need to run by the store on the way home.
- Add One New Thing Each Week
When you’re already very busy, overhauling your lifestyle can seem like an overwhelming challenge. Don’t see it as an all-or-nothing endeavor. Try making small, incremental changes.Find a way to exercise for just fifteen minutes a day, every day, for a couple of weeks – then increase this to thirty minutes.
Try cooking one extra night each week, or taking a brown-bagged lunch three days a week. Don’t focus on being perfect, just keep making small changes and you will reach your goals.
- Make Changes That Don’t Take Any Time
If you really can’t squeeze an extra fifteen minutes into your day, the easiest way to get healthier is to find ways to make changes that take no extra time at all.It doesn’t take any longer to buy and use wholewheat or oatmeal bread instead of white bread. It doesn’t take any longer to drink a diet soda (or better, water) instead of a full-sugar soda.
In some cases, the healthier option might be faster. You save time if you just get a glass of water instead of making a pot of coffee. You save time if you skip dessert and get straight back into work or a hobby. You save time if you eat cereal on the weekend, instead of a fry up.
How could you live more healthily, without using up a chunk of vital time? Are you going to try any of the tips above – or do you have your own ideas to add to the list?
|Written on 10/12/2009 by Ali Hale. Ali is a professional writer and blogger, and a part-time postgraduate student of creative writing. If you need a hand with any sort of written project, drop her a line ([email protected]) or check out her website at Aliventures.||Photo Credit: mikebaird|