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5 Fitness Hacks for a Busy Schedule

5 Fitness Hacks for a Busy Schedule

When life gets busy, fitness always seems to be the first item dropped from our to-do list.

The holiday season is a perfect example. Between hangovers and massive family meals, it’s easy to forgo fitness, especially when 2017 is right around the corner and you can just start fresh then.

But if you’re serious about making fitness a part of your life, you need strategies that can help you fit exercise into your schedule no matter how busy life gets.

Below are five hacks for getting your fitness in, even when life gets crazy.

1. Make Your Workouts Ultra Efficient

You only need to work out three days a week for 45 minutes a day. Dedicate one day to each of the three compound lifts: squat, overhead press, and deadlift. This is the bare bones workout plan you need if you’re serious about fitness.

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If you’re used to mixing in cardio or doing additional marathon training on top of that, you can scale back to just these three workouts when life gets busy, and still maintain your gains.

If you think cardio is worthless, the three compound lifts are all you need.

2. Work Out in the Morning

I know, I hate myself for even suggesting that we should all wake up early, but this is the one productivity hack that will absolutely change your life.

When you work out first thing in the morning, you eliminate the possibility that life will get in the way. Our lives are filled with unexpected traffic jams, last-minute drinks with friends, family members coming into town, and hundreds of other forces conspiring to keep us from exercising.

Working out in the morning lets you enjoy the day without fitness hanging over your head. If you accomplish nothing else the entire day, you can sleep easy knowing that at least you’ve worked out.

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3. Work Out on Sunday to Jump Start Your Week

Here’s another pro tip that’s not going to be wildly popular but is guaranteed to make a huge difference:

Start your workout routine on Sunday by tackling your least favorite compound lift.

I dread squat day, which explains why I didn’t squat until recently in my fitness journey. So for me, nothing provides a greater sense of accomplishment than starting off my Monday mornings knowing that I’ve already gotten my least favorite lift done for that week.

Gone are the Sunday night blues and the Monday morning scramble of trying to work out and make it to work on time. Don’t give Mondays a reason to suck more than they already do. Tackle your toughest lift on Sunday — the rest of your week will thank you for it.

4. Front-load or Back-load Your Workouts

I always advocate for rest days between compound lifts because they’re so taxing on your central nervous system, but you can move your workout days around if you’re really busy.

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For example, if you’re going on vacation in the middle of the week and doubt you’ll get to work out once you leave, it’s OK to stack your three lifts on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before you go. Three workouts in three days, while not ideal, is better than zero workouts in seven days.

If you aren’t in a bind with your schedule, always shoot for 48 hours between lifts so your body can recover and come back ready to attack the next workout at full strength.

5. Build A Home Gym For Cheap Using Holiday Deals

To help fit exercise into my busy schedule, I work out at home. If you’re like me and your wife generously gives you a spare room to set up a home gym (no small sacrifice in Hong Kong), take advantage of some of those holiday deals to buy yourself a squat rack for cheap. For a couple hundred bucks, you can get a new one delivered to your door.

Working out at home saves you from having to drive to the gym, get changed, work out, shower, and drive back home to change before going to work. You know, all those reasons you use to justify not working out.

All sorts of fitness equipment can be found for cheap around the holidays, but since we’re just worrying about the three compound lifts, your priority can be on a squat rack.

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Make Fitness A Lifestyle Change, Not A Time-Suck

Most people who put down “go to the gym more” as a New Year’s resolution spend the first two weeks of January hitting the gym every day. At some point, they get burnt out. They want their life back, and so they give up on fitness.

If you make fitness into this all-consuming activity that directly conflicts with the rest of your life, you’re going to fail. This is why all of the hacks I listed above center around one idea:

Fitness should fit seamlessly into your life.

By keeping your workouts as minimal as possible and figuring out schedules you can actually keep long-term, fitness will just become a part of your life—not an obstruction.

You might still have a busy schedule, but you’ll be in the best shape of your life.

Featured photo credit: Fitness and Health Matters via fitnessandhealthmatters.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

Reference

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