Too Busy for Exercise? How to Find the Time to Work Out

March 13, 2023

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Too Busy to Exercise? How to Find Time to Work Out

How did this not-so-morning person go from “no time for workouts” to getting up at 5 am to head to the gym? In this episode, we’re talking about how to find time for exercise, even if your schedule is jam-packed (spoiler alert, that’s me and I’m giving you REAL methods that have helped me find a routine).  It’s a lot easier than you might think.

I’m a time management coach, but that doesn’t mean I’m a morning person.

I definitely have had my struggles with the snooze button — and for many years, if it required me getting up before at least 6:30 in the morning, I wouldn’t go. Thinking about working out in the morning? Absolutely not.

But I’ve decided that I want to prioritize moving my body and, because I run a business and have two small children, morning workouts are really the only time that I knew would work. I knew I needed to find time to work out. So… I did the unthinkable.

I became — gasp — a morning person. A morning person who works out, to boot.

My journey to “morning person who works out”

For the last few months, I’ve started getting up at 5:05 am and getting to the gym at 5:30…and l like it. I’m just as shocked as y’all are.

No, I’m not instantly perky. I don’t enjoy leaving my cozy bed so much as I enjoy having the opportunity to exercise and start my day with “me time.” It also sets the mood for the day, and I found that the endorphins really help. 

Like most people who sit at a desk for the majority of the day, I find that I crave that physical activity to keep my body and mind balanced. And becoming consistent with a workout routine has helped me do that.

But before we get too far into this, I want to assure you that I’m not trying to convince you to wake up at the crack of dawn to work out. Instead, I want to help you find space for it in your busy schedule…in a way that feels good for you!

Whether it’s a quick yoga routine, a walk, or a full-on weight-lifting regime, there are a few ways to find time to work out when it feels like there is none!

Figure out your why

Why exactly do you want to work out?

Is it because you don’t feel your best sitting at your desk all day? Is it to feel confident at your upcoming high school reunion? Do you want to run around and play outside with your kids without getting winded? What’s the whole point of working out for you?

As with anything, I firmly believe that leading with intention is the secret to helping you accomplish the things you want to do. Not because it’s a cure-all, but because that core, underlying motivation is what’s going to keep you going when the going gets tough.

Find a time and routine that you enjoy

The next step to finding a workout time and sticking to it, is to figure out what you actually like about working out. 

A few times in the past I would flip-flop between working out for several days, then go rogue for months. It wasn’t until I stopped and looked back on the times that I was super consistent with my workouts, and I spotted some clues.

I realized that I was super consistent with my workouts when I was challenging myself by lifting weights, tracking my workouts and the weight I was lifting with a spreadsheet (seriously!), and that the workout itself made me feel good.

Working out “just because you have to” or doing some online video routine wasn’t enough for me to stay at it, because the components that I actually enjoyed weren’t there. If you’re struggling to start working out or stick with it, look back and see if you can find any patterns. 

And then use that to guide you as you decide on the right routine for you. 

Create a plan for your ideal week

Working out, or really any other form of self-care, will need careful workaround to make happen. And while yes, you have to make it a priority, I know that’s easier said than done. 

In my Get a Game Plan Guide, I talk about blocking off your boulders first, which are your must haves during the week. You schedule boulders first and then let everything else fill in the space around them. Because far too often, we do everything else on our to-do lists firsts, and then tell ourselves that we’ll tackle the boulders with whatever time is left.

And then, surprise surprise — there’s no time left! 

But filling your schedule around your priorities (like working out!) can help you stick with it and stay intentional with your time!

Set expectations with your family

If you’re going to make working out (or any form of self-care) a priority, you need to make sure everyone else in your house knows that it is too. 

To be able to work out early in the morning, I had to make sure my husband and I were on the same page because he also wants some time to go to the gym. And with the kids and our work schedules, we usually can’t both go at the same time. So we compromise! I go in the early morning, he goes later in the day. 

Funny enough, my husband is MUCH more of a morning person than I am. It would make so much more sense for him to be the 5 am gym rat. But the reality is that our girls get ready for school from 7-8. Dropoff is from 8 to 8:30, and I have calls that kick off at 9:00 most days. 

Scott, on the other hand, doesn’t. All of his work communication with our Studio Pizza Productions clients happens over Slack. So it makes more sense for him to head to the gym after he drops the girls off at school. 

But we wouldn’t have been able to sort all of that out without communication and setting expectations!

Get an accountability buddy

Research shows that committing to your goals and checking in with an accountability partner about those goals regularly increases your chances of success by 95%. 95% is almost 100%! The odds are definitely in your favor if you’ve got a gym buddy. 

And this doesn’t even have to mean physically meeting up with someone for it to work. Virtual buddies are a thing too! And hello…that’s what all this technology is for!

Every morning at 5:05 am, I have an accountability text check-in with one of the members of my group coaching program. I know every morning, I better be up on time because she’s depending on me. Then because I’m already up, I don’t have much of a temptation to go back to sleep. 

So whether it’s by text, by phone cool, or by Zoom, I challenge you today to go find an accountability partner you know will help you find success in this goal!

Create a system

Getting up early is difficult for me. I’m always tempted to hit snooze! So to keep myself from lying in bed, I eliminate as many distractions as I can the night before. 

This means plugging in my AirPods and my Apple Watch next to each other in my closet. I also pick out all of my workout clothes for the week on Sundays. I fill up my water bottle and put my gym bag on the counter next to the back doors, so I don’t have to look for either in the morning when I’m still half asleep.

And I know exactly which workout I’ll do once I get to the gym. I have my workout routine for each day in my calendar, and I have each individual exercise in an app called RepCount so I can see how long the workout took me and track how much weight I’m using — just like I used to do with a spreadsheet.

All that prep work means I don’t spend time running around trying to get myself ready or leave myself open to excuses. Everything is right there, ready for me to go, so I don’t even have to think about changing my mind and going back to sleep.

Again, I’m not a morning person, so getting up early is the worst. I’ve definitely had my days where I wasn’t on top of things. But the combination of these methods has helped me create a consistent workout routine that leaves me feeling great both mentally and physically!

In this episode, we talk about: 

  • Finding the motivation to work out by discovering your why
  • Setting a routine to eliminate distractions
  • Getting a game plan that works for you (including time of day and type of workout!)

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