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Eliminating Time Sucks So You Can Work Out

Getting to the gym sometimes can be easier said than done. But if lack of time is the main justification for skipping your workout, it’s time to reconsider how you spend your day. We surveyed personal trainers, life coaches and athletes to get their advice on how to eliminate time sucks so that you can easily spend an hour at the gym.

Once you master the art of maximizing your time, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to find that spare moment to hit the gym — and ultimately adhere to your fitness goals.

PICK A DAY FOR MEAL PREP

“Many hours per week can be wasted on cooking meals or dining out,” says Ron Silvis, CEO of lifestyle fitness company No Apologies LLC. “By selecting one day to prepare your meals for the entire week (preferably on an off-day from the gym), it cuts the time spent on daily meal planning and cooking and gives you more free time to spend in the gym.”

Kyle Jones, a New York City-based personal trainer, suggests taking advantage of grocery and meal delivery services. “It’s almost 2017! You can have virtually anything delivered to you,” he says. “Blue Apron is a solid company that sends you all the ingredients you need, all you have to do is cook. FreshDirect delivers groceries to your house if you can’t make it to the store or hate long lines.”

Brooke Taylor, of Taylored Fitness, adds that the slow cooker has been a blessing in her busy life. “Throw some veggies, protein and broth into a crock pot,” she explains. “When you arrive home after a full day of work, everything is done.”

REMEMBER THAT IT’S OK TO SAY NO

The more commitments we agree to, the less time we have for ourselves and to do things like our favorite yoga class or a run through the park. “Remember that ‘just say no!’ campaign, which was centered around drugs?” says certified life coach Marybeth Cale. “Well, another toxic behavior is ‘yessing’ people to death at the expense of your own sanity and free time!” Before you agree to chair the next local event or host a huge party, ask yourself these two questions: 1. Will this activity drain me or energize me? and 2. Will this activity move me closer to my goals?

“If it doesn’t energize you in some way or help you move forward in your life, just say no,” adds Cale. “Move on to something that will make better use of your time, talent and resources.”

CUT DOWN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

All of those minutes spent retweeting funny cat videos and liking Facebook photos can really add up. “I think social media is one of the biggest time wasters, especially if you are not regimented with your schedule,” says Carol Hinchcliffe, co-founder of Thrive Fitness & Nutrition. To prioritize working out over perusing Instagram, the trainer tells her clients to work out first and then allot time to social media. “Another way to stay connected to your friends and simultaneously sneak in your fitness goals is to invite someone that you need to catch up with to accompany you to the gym,” Hinchcliffe adds. “That way you can kill two birds with one stone.”

CUT DOWN ON WATCHING TV, TOO

According to a recent Nielsen study, Americans are watching an average of five hours of television a day. Just imagine what you could do with all that extra time. Try limiting your TV time to one show per day or only allowing yourself to curl up on the couch and watch TV after your workout. “Make TV a reward, not a habit,” says Bishop. 

On the flip side of eliminating time sucks, here are three ways to improve your efficiency and ultimately squeeze in that workout.

3 WAYS TO GET YOUR WORKOUT IN

1. SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS

To make sure that your fitness is a priority, Silvis suggests putting your workouts on your daily to-do list. “We are more likely to follow through if we actually schedule gym time and put it on the calendar,” he explains. “By writing it and seeing it, we are less likely to skip it.” When it comes to making fitness a part of your day, consistency is key. Start small. Commit to a Tuesday night yoga class, make it a recurring appointment into your calendar and challenge yourself to go weekly.

2. AVOID THE GYM DURING PRIME TIME

If you can choose a time to hit the gym other than after work, and to a lesser extent, before work, do it. Try to find a less popular time, like during your lunch break or consider gym alternatives. “Driving in traffic, parking, changing and checking into the gym or class can all be very time-consuming,” says Stefanee Alcantar, an instructor at Speir Pilates. “You can eliminate all of that by streaming your workout online and doing it from your home or the office.”

3. GET YOUR ZZZ’S

Sleep plays a crucial role in your health, and if you aren’t getting enough of it, you simply won’t function as well the next day. Beth Bishop, owner and head coach at the Phoenix Effect, tells her clients that it’s essential to quit screen time at least an hour before going to bed if they expect to wake up well-rested and ready to hit the gym. “Chances are, you have already spent enough time on Facebook anyway,” she says. “This will allow you to fall asleep easier and get more time in the sack to ensure your workouts rock.”

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