By The Editors of WOMEN'S HEALTH
The secret to finding time for a workout is really about one simple strategy: ditching the stuff that's wasting your valuable time. Here are 15 easy ways to shave 15 extra minutes out of your day--and put them toward your fitness goals.
1. LOG OFF FACEBOOK People average seven hours a month on the social site. Do the math and it works out to 105 minutes each week, or 15 minutes every single day. You don't have to banish FB, but limit it to two short sessions a day.
2. SAY NO! When someone (not your boss) asks you to do something you don't have time for, say, "I'm sorry, I can't"--and feel the freedom wash over you.
3. PLAN YOUR DAY Schedule your biggest task of the day for when you're most focused and productive. You'll get it done more quickly than if you try to tackle it during a natural low point.
4. RESIST MULTITASKING Trying to do too many things at once often means getting nothing done. Pick an item from your to-do list, and do it and only it. Each task will get done faster when it gets your full attention.
5. RECORD YOUR SHOWS An hour-long TV show contains just 40 to 42 minutes of real content--the rest is commercials. Invest in a digital TV recorder so you can free up time to pursue more healthful activities, like 15-minute workouts.
6. DON'T BE A NEATNIK Is it really all that important that your apartment is spotless? Stop wasting precious potential gym time polishing picture frames.
7. BUY TIME Pay for services that suck up tons of time. Before you pooh-pooh the idea of hiring a cleaning service, sit down and do a little math. When you think of the few hundred bucks you blew on shoes and all the time you've spent scrubbing the tub, you may want to reconsider your expenditures.
8. PUT IT IN INK You find time for everything on your calendar because it's there in black and white. Block out your workouts as you would work appointments.
9. SET A TIMER All the little things you plan to do for just a few minutes--surfing the Web, cleaning the fridge--can suck away hours. Keep a kitchen timer nearby. When you start a task, set it for 15 minutes. Then stop when the bell rings.
10. TOUCH IT ONCE When a paper comes across your desk or an e-mail hits your inbox, deal with it right away. Piled-up paper and messages create distracting clutter, and you waste time revisiting each issue again (and again).
11. PICK UP THE PHONE It can take 15 e-mails or texts to accomplish what you could do in a 40-second phone call.
12. BE DECISIVE You can easily waste hours choosing what color to paint your walls or which brand of sneakers to buy (it's called analysis paralysis). At some point, you need to stop waffling and move forward. Set a time limit, say 45 minutes, for comparison shopping, weighing pros and cons, etc., then make a decision and go forth.
13. PUT THINGS IN THEIR PLACE I used to waste precious time looking for my keys. At any given time they could have been anywhere-pockets, drawers, purses, or my personal favorite, hanging from the door lock. Finally, I bought a 75-cent hook, hung it by the phone as my designated key spot, and have not lost my keys since. Try this trick with anything you lose regularly. It works.
14. SET OUT YOUR STUFF Setting out your exercise clothes at night makes it far more likely that you will get up and get moving for a morning workout, instead of hitting snooze (or worse, skipping the whole affair entirely) because it's too daunting to get up and start rummaging around for your workout gear.
15. GET UP 15 MINUTES EARLIER Vow to work out at 5 a.m. every day and you'll never do it. But even the most nocturnal of night owls can roll out of the sack a mere 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Even if you don't use that extra time for your workout, you'll get to the office earlier than usual, so you'll be more likely to take that 15 minutes for yourself later in the day.