Let’s be honest, bodybuilding is great and has a lot of life lessons built into it, but time management isn’t one of them. As bodybuilders we’re notoriously one-track minded and have a tendency to get sucked into figuring out when or how we’re going to get our next meal, working our life around our gym schedule, and allowing things don’t quite fit into the program to fall by the wayside. It always seems like there just isn’t enough time in a day to focus our attention on work, food prep, training, cardio, relationships, family, bills, shopping, rewatching your favorite Zhansi video for the 500th time, checking the boards, and updating all your social media accounts with bathroom selfies without allowing some part of your life to fall into the toilet because we’re too distracted by all of our crap.
Am I right? Of course I am. And that means that you, just like 100% of the other people in the world, have developed more than a few bad habits over the years that could use some cleaning up. This is where a concept called Habit Stacking comes into play. In the book Habit Stacking by SJ Scott he introduces micro-habits that can be combined, or stacked (bodybuilders love to stack things don’t we?), to replace old unproductive habits that suck our time and energy in order to free us up and do more of the things we enjoy doing – like Facebook stalking the guy who beat you in your last show because you’re secretly hoping that he’s turned into a big fat slop jockey.
Here’s the thing, habit stacking was written with normal people in mind. And as we’ve already established bodybuilders don’t even think bodybuilding is normal, so that mean’s in order for us to apply habit stacking to our highly abnormal test-fueled lives it requires a little bit of tweaking to make that square peg fit into our round hole so-to-speak. Luckily for you, I’ve declared myself an expert on all things – like the meathead version of Dr. Phil – and have broken down a few habit stacking techniques that even the meatiest of meatheads can understand and implement.
• Write It Down
Believe it or not, writing down a list of things you want to accomplish is an unbelievably effective way to get more things done every day both short and long term. Writing things down has a way of making us feel personally accountable and gives us something physical to refer back to and look at over the course of the day to determine whether we’re getting off track. Finding more time to do the things we love starts with focusing on the things we have to do first. Making a mental note isn’t going to cut it. Before you get your day started create a list of 5 reasonable things to accomplish (setting unreasonable goals will doom you to failure) and make it your prime objective to see it through every single day.
• Put Your Most Important Tasks First
It might seem like common sense, but putting your most important task for the day first on your list is the best way to make sure the important things are getting done. It’s like prioritizing your training by putting a weak body part first in a workout. Bodybuilders have an unbelievable ability to procrastinate when it comes to everything but training and eating. How many times have you drug your feet all day long but still managed to grab your stuff and fly out the door to go train like they were giving away free money at the front desk? Everyday? Get the most important thing, or the thing you hate doing the most, out of the way first instead of continuously putting it off an dreading the idea of even thinking about it. Once the hard stuff is out of the way not only will you find that you have more time, but you’ll notice that you feel better and more energized without having a black cloud hanging over you all day long.
• Work in Short Blocks of Time
Give yourself a limited time frame to things. I’m just as guilty as anyone for falling victim of getting sucked into the internet rabbit hole. There are plenty of times when I said I was going to be “working” that turned into watching or reading things that have absolutely nothing to do with what I was supposed to be doing. By giving yourself a dedicated time frame of 30 minutes to do things it forces you to buckle down and focus before having to move onto your next task. It’s amazing how productive you can actually be by focusing your full attention on a single task for a short period of time. Working in short blocks also gives you the ability to walk away and come back to something with a clear head. Have you ever tried to study all night long to cram for an exam? It sucks, and even if you’re fueled by Adderall and coffee there’s only so much focus you can dedicate to something before losing your mind and deciding that you just don’t give a shit anymore. Breaking things down into small manageable chucks will allow you to make steady progress on even the biggest projects while freeing up more time to get other things done in between blocks.
• Create Accountability by Telling Others
While I don’t personally like to keep the world up to date on every intimate detail of my life, I do believe there’s incredible value in keeping the people close to you involved in what’s going on. Telling someone about a task or project that you plan on doing is a great way to keep yourself honest and on track to complete it. We all hate answering questions about why we haven’t finished something yet, and the best way to avoid answering those questions is to actually get things done. Why do people go into hibernation during their offseason but then suddenly become their own personal paparazzi during their contest prep? Because knowing other people are expecting the best from you helps you bring out the best in yourself. It keeps you motivated to work harder every single day because we don’t want to let down the people who have supported us from the very beginning.
• Reward Yourself
All work and no play flat out sucks. People need gratification, and there’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for a job well done. Progressing toward a short or long term goal by taking small steps every day is great, but that doesn’t mean it’s not okay to splurge every once in a while. Does that mean you should suck down two pints of Ben & Jerry’s every Sunday night because you were 100% with your other 41 meals during the week? Probably not. But if the idea of looking forward to piling Chunky Monkey down your throat with a small shovel motivates you to avoid temptation and have laser focus during the rest of the week then by all means, shovel away. People are not machines, despite the fact that most bodybuilders not so secretly wish they were. We deserve to be rewarded for getting the job done. Would you keep going to work if you didn’t receive a paycheck? I hope not, because that would be stupid as shit, and it wouldn’t last long if your job decided to stop paying you. Getting things done in your everyday life is no different. The reward will make the sacrifice all worth the while.
Part 2: Relationships