In business and life, we love to find anything that can make our lives easier and gives us more time. Have you looked at anything that could literally give you more time though? By time I am referring to your lifespan.

Sorry to get deep on you but in order to make a real impact you need to be thinking about the long-term. We all know none of us are getting out of this alive, but I am sure like me you want to make sure you have a long run until that time.

The reason we seem to put our own health as secondary is because of how we prioritise. Most of us work hard to provide for others, which is ingrained in us as humans. We associate ourselves suffering and being selfless as a sign that we are working hard and doing the right thing. The ‘do whatever it takes’ mindset is deeply ingrained in a lot of us. On one hand, it’s great motivation – but it does have its downsides.

I realised that while I was working my hardest to provide and doing what many before me had done (and still are), I was making my health and relationship with those around me worse. Times are different now, and where we don’t have certain ‘survival’ stresses we do have new stresses. We have the stress to make sure we show up in a crowded marketplace, that we can afford all the nice new things our family wants, or simply the stress to feel like you are keeping up.

When I started making my health a priority everything else improved, and I didn’t feel bad about my new ‘me first’ attitude. This wasn’t about me forgetting my responsibilities or my family, but it was me realising that if I was fit and healthy then I could perform on a higher level in all areas. I am more productive at work, my mood is better, my energy is higher. Yes I still have times when I have to really get my head down, but these are now more productive and I can handle them better as a result.

So the golden question: How can you get healthy when you are tight on time? I will start this by saying that no matter what I or anyone else says, you need to want to get healthy for it to work. It takes work and can be a challenge at times but there is always a solution if you realise the benefits.

Realise what getting healthy means

Getting healthy means different things to different people but there are some simple rules to what is healthy for me.

  • You are in a healthy weight range
  • You can perform your day without excessive fatigue
  • You walk for at least an hour every day
  • You exercise with a mixture of weights/cardio/HIIT at least three times per week
  • You have a balanced diet
  • You have at least 1.5 litres of water per day
  • You manage your stress
  • You are free of disease
  • You generally feel happy
  • You do something you enjoy at least twice a week  

How do you stack up against this list?

Be creative with your time

Everyone tends to overestimate how busy they are. You schedule a meeting for an hour when it really takes 40 minutes; you sit down for 30 minutes having a coffee and checking your phone; you stand and wait for the Tube for 15 minutes for a 5-minute journey when you could have had a 20-minute walk instead. The list goes on but you get the idea: we tend to let habit dictate our behaviours rather than logic.

With that in mind, here are some simple ways to maximise your time and get working on your health.

  1. If you can walk then walk – Simply getting a certain step count in per day will make a massive difference. This doesn’t just apply to an alternative to the Tube, you can do this while doing many activities. Take talking on the phone for example. Whenever I have a call, I am walking. Even if it is doing laps around my fitness centre, a 15-minute call could result in 1000 extra steps. This is the type of scenario wherein we over complicate when we just need to do.
  2. Remember to diarise your ‘you’ time – If you treat the time you are spending exercising, doing yoga or preparing good food as important as a meeting, it will get done. The reason it doesn’t get done is because you don’t prioritise it. Really simple and blunt: if you want to be healthy and feel the benefit then YOU need to make it a priority.
  3. Play catch up in your down time – The ideal is to get you moving and eating well consistently throughout the week, but if this doesn’t happen then all is not lost. If we are saying we are really tight on time, then your down time of ‘free’ time is the ideal time to play catch up. You can dedicate at least an hour a day over the weekend to work on your health. Again this is not ideal but it is better to have at least 2 hours a week as opposed to none.

Remember getting healthy is important not just for the obvious facts we all know about. Getting your body functioning and performing better is going to benefit your entire life. You will be able to do more, for longer, at a higher level and better. If you are looking to make a dent in the universe then you need to ditch the excuses, focus on what you can do rather than put problems in the way.