My perfect day would be like this:  wake up 4:30AM, get my husband’s butt out of bed to try to make him do a yoga or Pilates DVD.  Then we would have a perfect healthy breakfast, clean the kitchen, set up my daughter’s breakfast, go back upstairs to get ready, clean my room and then gently wake up my daughter Yasmin and help her get ready and eat breakfast.  I would shuffle her off to school, walk my 150lb mastiff, Hugo, and then clean him up.  Let’s throw in doing a load of laundry!  All of this would be done by 9AM.

Does everything mentioned in the previous paragraph happen every day before 9AM?  Only when pigs are able to fly and Newt Gingrich will totally support President Obama’s economic plan:  Never.

The reality is:  I get up at 5:30AM.  Waking up my daughter is as dangerous as wrestling with an angry crocodile.  Rich’s version of a power smoothie would be Coca Cola for breakfast.  In short – does everything you plan for the day happen?  Not even close.  However, do MOST things you plan for the day happen?  For a good part of the time.

Effective Time Management is “Real Time Management”

For me, to approach time management, like most parts in life, is shaped like the bell curve:

The right half of the curve represents the days when you are in “the zone”:  your kids are perfect angels, and getting to school on time.  You keep writing killer proposals that win every account at work.  You and your partner are, like Forrest Gump says, “just like peas and carrots.”  Life is great!

However, the left half of the curve represent days where nuclear fallout has occurred.  You wake up feeling like a train hit you because you shouldn’t have had that last 2 out of 4 martinis during your corporate party that night, the kids wake up late again, fight during breakfast and miss the damn bus again.  Why not think of the left and right halves as one big success at time management? This is what I called Real Time Management, because it fits to the constraints of your everyday life.

Great Days and Okay Days Are Much Easier Pills to Swallow

Of course it’s obvious that when working out, you are going to have good days and bad days.  Why not put it in a different perspective – the good days are GREAT days and the bad ones are just “okay” days?  Don’t forget:  these “okay” days are just OPPORTUNITIES to see what you can improve on the next time!

Do Not Go to the Dark Side of the Force!

Don’t beat yourself up if your plans for your workout didn’t go as scheduled.  That’s what happened to Luke Skywalker and look where it got him.  Don’t mentally criticize and abuse yourself.  It’s really useless energy analyzing what happened again and again.  You are going into Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell:  there is no way out.  You will never get a useful answer for your what-if questions in order to get you back on track.  Just smile at yourself, mentally pick yourself up, and start the next day.  The next day offers us another chance and brand new hope of something better.

They Didn’t Build Rome in a Day

Did you know that it takes about three weeks to change ONE habit?  Changing habits, practicing a new workout plan takes time mentally and physically for the body to take effect.  Be patient with your new lofty workout (or non-workout) goals:  they take time for your body to get used to, in addition to your mind.

I planned to do a half marathon a year and half in advance.  For some of you reading this article, you must be chuckling to yourself why this ninny would take that amount of time because usually it will take you 4-12 weeks to prepare for that same event.  The reason why I planned it way in advance was for the following reasons:

  • I was still trying to get pregnant, so I didn’t know what was going to happen down the road
  • I was utterly terrified that it would hurt so much while running that I would just quit during the race
  • I had this fear of just getting lazy and then cramming in the training and then getting hurt right before the event.

Did this stuff really happen?  Only one out of the three happened and I still had enough time to compensate to preparing for this event. I planned this event way in advance because of all these worse case scenarios.  If you want to be successful in following through with your training plan, PREPARE FOR THE WORSE CASE SCENARIOS.  Plan as early as you can to give yourself every chance of success.  Prepare as much as you can ahead of time:

  • Have your clothes ready next to your bed for your workout in the morning:  down to your headband for your hair.  Your bag should be ready as well:  clean equipment, post workout clothes, toiletries refilled, etc.  For people like me who eat like piggies after a workout, I have to pack a lot of food.
  • When you go to the gym or start your workout, TURN OFF THE MENTAL GARBAGE OF BAD VOICES AND IMAGES!  The work bully you hate!  The traffic!  Your child saying, “Don’t work out Mommy.  Just stay here and watch TV with me.”  The bill for her braces!  These thoughts lead to the Dark Side of the Force!  Just concentrate on what you have to do at that moment!
  • Last but not least, Be Happy!  Isn’t that why we are doing all of this?  It makes us happy.  To focus on the fact that changing some habits will lead to more happiness feels oh so fabuloso!

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Tri and Tri Again

Lastly, the most important thing to remember to successfully manage your time is to just try, or rather “tri” from “triathlon.” This is one of the reasons that I am very taken with this sport:  it reminds me to just keep trying.  If I have one of my “okay” days, which is often, I just try to figure out what went wrong and just adjust that one habit.  I don’t try to change a whole group of habits because I know I will definitely fail.   I know if I keep tri-ing, I will eventually succeed.

Master Yoda from Star Wars had once said:  “Do or Do Not.  There is no try.”  I usually agree with him on most things, but I don’t agree with him when you apply this to the case of effective time management.  Master Yoda was trying to save the universe:  we’re just trying to follow a training plan.  Hey let’s keep things in perspective!

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