Time to think about time management

In August 2023, Trucker's Health7 MinutesBy Laura HulleySeptember 15, 2023

Today, rushing, business or ‘hustling’ are seen as the mark of success and productivity. To an extent, I support and encourage people to make the most out of every day and take every opportunity with both hands. But this can sometimes come to the detriment of our mental wellbeing or a threat to our work/life balance.

Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, our healthy habits are often one of the first things to go out the window when we are feeling overwhelmed and time poor. In my opinion, healthy eating and exercise should be non-negotiable when life gets busy.

I’m sure you can all relate when work demands or family commitments are intense; you opt for takeaways or skipping that gym session or walk. At the time you think you are conserving energy and effort by not having to cook dinner or go for a stroll around the block. However, the knock-on effect from eating poorly and not moving your body actually means less energy and more fatigue and therefore, less capacity to handle your busy and demanding workload. So how on Earth do we balance conserving energy whilst still maintaining our healthy lifestyles?

This is an insanely difficult balance where ‘listening to your body’ doesn’t always work. How do you know if you’re too tired to exercise or if you just need to push through and then you’ll feel better and more energised afterwards? Very tricky! Of course, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and managing stress levels are extremely important factors, but there is another element that you need to harness to get the most out of your day without burnout and that is time management.

You’re probably thinking, ‘time management, that’s easy for you to say who works a regular 9-to-5 job and isn’t behind the wheel of a truck for long and irregular hours every week’. For my clients who work irregular hours, regardless of what their job is, I always encourage them to take things one or two days at a time (whatever is realistic for their workload). For example, if you know you’re driving from 8am to 10pm tomorrow, you know that getting your exercise in after you finish at 10pm is not going to be a viable option. So you need to think when you can more realistically fit in a 30-minute walk or exercise session of some sort. If you could get up slightly earlier and do a quick walk, bike ride or gym session before you start your day, that would be the ideal option. Or even if you could squeeze something in at lunch time or during a break throughout your day.

Making a commitment with yourself and being realistic is important. “I’m not going to exercise after 10pm when I get home so I will do a lunchtime walk when I’m parked up.” It doesn’t mean sticking to an extreme schedule or mapping out every minute of the day, but it’s just being aware of the structure of your day and where you can sneak in those important active sessions.

Exercise is the most underrated and under prescribed mental health tool on the planet. When your workload or family demands increase this can obviously affect your mental wellbeing. When you are feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed, this is when you need to be stern with yourself and stay staunch in your exercise commitments that you’ve made with yourself. Moving your body in a way that you enjoy releases endorphins and feel-good hormones that can help with feeling overwhelmed, flat or low throughout the day.

Here are some tips to help manage your time efficiently:

1. Use a calendar (a physical calendar on the wall or a digital calendar on your phone/device) to keep track of the hours you’re working and when you’re wanting to slot in your exercise sessions. These can be done a day ahead, several days in advance or you can plan out your whole week/month if you’re feeling onto it and your schedule allows for that.

2. If exercising for an hour is not an option, you can schedule in smaller and more regular sessions. For example, instead of an hour-long workout in the morning you could do three small 15-minute workouts throughout the day. Use whatever windows you have available to you. Over the day this adds up to 45 minutes of physical activity, which is great.

3. Instead of scrolling on social media or cabbaging out on Netflix, use that 30 minutes to go for a walk. You could even multi-task and watch Netflix while on a stationary bike or treadmill – two birds one stone!

4. When you cook a meal, make enough for several meals so that you are only doing meal prep and cooking once, but enjoying the fruits of your labour for several meals. This can save so much time in the kitchen and when you get home from a long day’s work, you can just pop a meal in the microwave and Bob’s your aunty!