I am sure I am not the only athlete who gets asked this question in response to our training schedules: “Where do you find the time?!”
The truth is, we all have the same amount of time in our day. 24 hours. Time to eat, sleep, get pretty, work, workout, be social, keep our habitats tidy, and take care of others. Last fall I had the pleasure of giving a lunch hour presentation to the students at UNB law school about work/life balance, and how to fit it all in. I also gave them some tips on how to do this on a budget because, let’s face it, law students and junior lawyers need to be resourceful. The societal image of lawyers wearing Rolexes and driving BMWs might be accurate for our more senior colleagues, but us babes have student debt gorillas hanging off our backs and they are hungry for our pay checks.
I thought I would share these tips on the blog for those who might find them helpful. They are simple, but often not put to practice.
My Top 5 Tips for Work/Life Balance
1. Make a plan.
Obvious, no? “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” is the oft cited passage of Benjamin Franklin. I suggest sitting down at the beginning of the year, the month, and the week, and looking ahead. This is how I came to succeed in law school, and now it’s how I train. You’ve got 52 weeks baby. Don’t waste them. What are your goals for the year? When do you want to accomplish them by? Note this up on your calendar (I use an old fashioned agenda) and work backwards. Each week, take another look at the plan you made. What commitments for that particular week may get in your way? Work around them by training before work, or at lunch time. Be mentally prepared for these obstacles so they don’t cause you to miss a workout and get in the way of your goal.
2. Pack your lunch.
This is one of the tips that also helps your wallet. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks the day before work or class to make sure you fuel yourself right. Keep healthy non-perishable snacks in your desk (nuts, crackers, a can of soup or tuna) so that you are prepared for hunger emergencies. If you go straight to the gym after work, these snacks can tide you over until you make it home for dinner rather than bailing on your workout to go home and eat. I buy matchstick carrots, tubs of baby spinach, and grape tomatoes that are always handy in my fridge. Paired with an avocado (I throw the whole thing in and cut it up at work) for satiety and healthy fats, throwing these things into a container makes for the fastest lunchtime salad ever.
3. Use geography to your advantage.
Work close to the pool? Swim at lunch. Live by the track? Run in the morning before work. Minimize the time you spend travelling to and from your workouts by planning them to fit the rest of your day so that you are not spending more time commuting than you have to. I have been CrossFitting at lunch because the gym is right behind my office. I swim in the mornings because I live 2 minutes from the pool. You will be more inclined to skip a workout if you’ve planned to drive across town at lunch in traffic, rather than if you plan with your logistics.
4. Wake up early.
There is no way around this one. If you want to fit it all in, and you work a 9-5 job or go to school, working out in the morning is one of the best ways to manage your time. Especially for triathletes who are often fitting in double workouts, this time is prime. It’s also the best time to hit the pool because it is less likely you will be decapitated by a pool toy or child-launched kick board.
5. Get enough sleep.
Waking up early means getting to bed early too. You will have more energy to accomplish all of your daily goals if you eat right and get enough sleep. Tasks can take twice as long when you are tired, and us busy people don’t have time for that. Feeling dozy makes it much easier to talk yourself out of a workout and/or to start snacking. The point is not to lose sleep by waking up early to train, but rather to get enough sleep, while still waking up early to train.
So there you have it. I may not be an expert on this topic, or a perfect pupil, but having trained for and completed (amongst other things) 3 half ironman triathlons through law school, articling, and my first year as an associate, I have some experience in having the best of both worlds.
What are your time management tips??