Many successful people from all walks of life, e.g., CEOs, entrepreneurs, athletes, managers, self-starters, etc., come to me looking for coaching advice and/or plans for their next challenge. 

I say the next challenge as they are inevitably juggling another challenge(s).

They are not short of focus, drive but typically short of time.

Yes, being time-crunched is not a new concept to these types of A personalities, but this time – delegation is not an option.

When talking to athletes pondering how to overcome this challenge, I tell them to think of their day as a 24-hour pie chart, and we discuss some simple strategies to help them get the most out of this chart.

The good news is that some of the critical learnings outlined below easily transferable in all other walks of life and could make you a more productive member of your workplace/home etc.!!

Strategy 1: Involve your support crew in the planning process.

Even before looking at managing your time – the first key factor in setting yourself up for success is to involve the people around you in the planning process.

This is not one of those times when it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission (aka like many of my bike purchases). To survive and thrive in a year where you are undertaking an additional time demanding event like training for a marathon etc. – the buy-in and support from your nearest and dearest will be vital. So you should sit everyone down and talk through what you are planning and what is involved.

Firstly, you need to cover are what the year might look like in terms of heavy training times (i.e., four weeks out from race date) and how this fits in with everyone’s plans, e.g., when are holidays, weddings, and significant family events happening – are there clashes and how to manage them?

Secondly, you will need to agree on what a typical training week might need to look like, e.g., does it work to do your long run on a Sunday when kids need to be dropped to sports, etc. Setting up the correct “skeleton” week, as I call it, with my squad really does help minimize unnecessary friction from the start. 

An essential part of this planning should include an agreed date/movie night, family fun days, etc. – you are not the only person in this!

The more you make your support crew as part of your journey, rather than victims of it, the easier your time management task will be.

Strategy 2: Get a solid plan to work off

Do your research early about this – as there are a multitude of resources at your disposal – free plans from the internet, customizable training plans from training peaks, 1-2-1 coaching, etc.…. There is no correct answer/for everyone, so up to you to figure out your budget, the level of oversight you want and your flexibility, etc.

But at the bare minimum, you need a plan so that you can map out what you need to be doing and when – and see how this fits in with work/life commitments without completely stressing you out!

You have a great goal – you need a good map!

Once you have this in place, you can review each upcoming week in terms of training versus unexpected work/life commitments and juggle sessions around to accommodate …

Don’t forget your plan should have some degree of flexibility/contingency as no one gets to complete 100% of their training sessions – life is not that understanding. But don’t stress – the odd session sacrificed here, and there will not derail your challenge.

Strategy 3: Learn to prioritize

As per the start of this article – we know that our time is limited to 24 hours each day, so we have to be better at spending it.

What I get my newbies to do as part of their first few weeks with me is document what a typical day is in terms of how they spend their time. Each review is unique, but we invariably find ways to claim back to put towards their priority of achieving their goal. E.g., 2 hours a day on social media = easily translates into 1-hour pilates/run session and 1-hour social media, 2 hours watching TV = quickly becomes 1 hour on the turbo watching TV.

If we are all a little critical of how we spend our time – we can find better alternatives for it.

Strategy 4: Eliminate the faff

As I am writing this – I am not 100% sure how global the verb “to faff” is. But to provide clarity – “Faffing about” is when you spend time in an ineffective way – which is a killer in maximizing what you can achieve from your 24-hour pie chart.

An example of this would be getting up for a 7 am swim set and stumbling around in the dark trying to find your goggles and annoying people by waking them when you put on the lights to search further…. Then after realizing your googles were downstairs all along – you take another 15-20 mins figuring out what to eat before you swim, and then low and behold, it is too late to get to the swim session after all.

A better way to approach this is checking out what is in the plan the night before and laying out your swim kit (downstairs!), pre-session food, etc. Then all you have to do is fall out of bed – stumble via automatic pilot to pick up the kit, grab banana/granola, etc. and head to swimming.

So essentially, learn to micro plan/prepare for sessions better – you will be amazed at how effective we can become concerning our own time management in this.

Strategy 5: Learn how to stealth train

Ok, I wish this was as cool as it initially sounds as, in reality, training for an athletic challenge does not involve donning a ninja outfit.

For me – I use the term “stealth” training concerning turning otherwise “dead” time in your day into productive training time. In this, I mean, could you turn that 30 min dreaded daily drive into work battling traffic into a 2-way bike commute? Can you slot in a 45 min run at lunchtime and then eat at your desk afterward?

I refer to it as stealthy training as not only are you maximizing your own personal time management efficiency, but your training load is less obvious/impactful to the support crew, e.g., you are not coming home late after a hard day of work and then trying to squeeze in a tempo run on low energy/motivation.

So find yourself a goal/challenge – go get it by implementing some or all of the 5 strategies listed below!

  1. Get the team onboard.
  2. Have a plan and stick to it (within reason)
  3. Prioritize your personal time for the year and ensure any free time is helping you towards your goal.
  4. Form good micro-planning habits (Eliminate the faff!)
  5. Turn dead time into training time.

As I said at the start – the goal does not have to be a physical challenge – it could be a promotion, weight loss goal, masters, etc., etc.! The only limitation is your ambition!

Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 15 years of endurance racing, including numerous FULL DISTANCE finishes and world championship qualifications.

Realizing this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full-time coaching. Steven is now FULL DISTANCE University, Triathlon Ireland, and Training Peaks level 2 certified and, in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year.

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