Monday, August 10, 2009

Managing your time

Life is busy. Working, maintaining a personal life (whether you’re dating or have a family), making meals, doing other chores, having a little fun, getting a little downtime and getting enough sleep can easily eat up the average person’s time. Now try to add in everything you also need to do as a bodybuilder, and it feels impossible. You don’t want parts of your life to suffer, so how do you fit everything in? Time management. Here are a few recommendations on how you can create a little balance and get more done.

Find wasted time

Before you can figure out how to make more time, you need to understand how you use your time. Spend one week recording how you use your time. Once an hour, jot down what you’ve done. Chances are that you’ll be surprised at what you’re spending your time on. Your TV and computer are likely wasting huge amounts of time that you could be focusing elsewhere.

Prioritize your tasks

Now that you know what you’re doing in a week and how much time you’re spending doing it, figure out what you should be doing. Prioritize everything you want to achieve in each day, week and month. Start with the mandatory things, such as sleeping, cooking and working, and then add everything else you’d like to get done, in order of importance. Assign how much time each item takes.

Combine activities

Consider how you can combine activities of similar priorities together to save time. Can you stop at the grocery store on your way home from work, thus saving you a trip? Can you do your cardio or warm-up by jogging to the gym instead of driving and then spending time on a treadmill? Get creative with the possible combinations.

Use teamwork

Get the people in your life working together to give you more time. Let them know what you’re trying to do, and chances are that they’ll be willing to help. They can help keep you motivated and offer suggestions on how you can save time, and together, you can combine your efforts. Instead of going to the supplement store yourself every few weeks, you and a friend can take turns, thus saving you a trip.

Tighten up your activities

Consider how you can be more efficient with the activities you do. How can you get your shopping done faster? Can you spend less time in the gym while getting the same workout?

Here are some things you can do to lessen your training time.

Train only one hour, or less – Keep your gym time to an hour. It’s the optimal time for muscle gain, and anything more is a waste.

Train at home – Is there any training you can do at home? It might be as simple as purchasing some weights or doing cardio-only days without having to haul yourself to the gym. Try to eliminate your travel time.

Train at off-peak times – This is obvious. Don’t waste your time waiting to train. Schedule your gym trip during slow times.

Keep your warm-up short – Ten focused minutes on the treadmill or 6 to 8 warm-up sets with 15- to 30-second rest periods are enough. Just do enough to get your joints ready and your blood pumping.

Have a game plan – Know what you need to get done, and do it. You’re there to work out, then get out.

Don’t chat – Everyone wants to chat, but unless the gym is also your social centre, avoid the temptation. One way to do it without being rude is to wear headphones.

Use compound movements – This allows you to work groups of muscles all at once, giving you the greatest bang for your exercise buck.

Don’t rest long between sets – Your body only needs a couple of minutes for your breathing to return to normal and the lactic acid to clear from the muscle group before you’ll be ready to lift again.

Supersize your sets – All it takes is to do two exercises back to back without resting in between. You can work either the same muscle group or opposing muscle groups such as the biceps and triceps, hamstrings and quads, or chest and back.

Add machines – Calm down! We’re not advocating using only machines – we’re just suggesting including a couple more machines in your training. Changing out plates takes time that moving that pin up or down doesn’t.

Develop a schedule

Now that you’ve thought about what you need to do, it’s time to write it all down. Use your list of prioritized tasks to develop a detailed schedule for the week. Start by slotting in the must-haves, and work your way down the list. Be realistic with the amount of time each item is going to take. Budgeting less time than it actually takes is going to stress you out and throw the entire schedule out of whack.

Stay focused

Noble intentions are great, but if you’re going to find more time, you need to keep your head in the game. At any given moment, there are dozens of things that can distract you – the TV, the Web, friends, the phone, etc. Keep your focus, and get the job done. Watch TV or surf the Web only when you’ve scheduled it.

Look ahead, plan ahead

Keep an eye on what’s happening in the next couple of days. If you know you have something unusual going on, factor it in and be ready for it. For instance, make sure you pack an extra meal if you’re going to be at work longer.

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