Lack of time and lack of motivation are among the most frequently cited barriers to exercise participation for men and women with less than 55 years of age (Biddle and Mutrie 2008). This chapter will shortly discuss how to find time for training and how to set realistic goals.
Every day we have 24 hours (or 1440 minutes); every lost hour (or minute) never comes back. Although better technology allows things to be done more quickly, at the same time, people have more options and opportunities and they can hardly be accommodated all of them. Time management (or monitoring and controlling) is very important in today’s hectic life. Elite athletes try to make intensive use of time: they try to extract the maximum available time to improve sport and life obligations, and well-being (Macquet and Skalej 2015). A review (Claessens et al. 2007) demonstrated that time management behaviors relate positively to perceived control of time, job satisfaction, and health, and negatively to stress. Based on a review on time management articles (Hellsten 2012) and self-books on avoiding time shortage (Larsson and Sanne 2005) the following steps are recommended:
- Monitoring of the current (time-consuming) behaviors and activities. This could be done for example by logging one’s activities every hour for a week.
- Analyzing the current situation. One should reflect on whether he is satisfied with his use of time, and whether he will be happy in several years with the way he spends his time at present.
- Determining what should be done by setting goals. This could be accomplished by defining where one sees himself in five years’ time and how he plans to get there.
- Deciding which events are the most important and realizing that other activities will have to be scheduled around them (prioritizing). Health is (should be) typically on the top of the list.
- Making decisions about how much time to allow for certain tasks (time estimation). For instance, one could limit the workday (e.g. to 8 h) or other activities (e.g. the gym to 30 minutes, two times per week).
- Streamlining tasks, i.e. improving the efficiency of a process (activity) by simplifying or eliminating unnecessary steps, using modern techniques, or taking other approaches.
- Purchasing services (e.g. cleaning of the house, assigning a task elsewhere).
- Organizing, optimizing, grouping activities. For example, keeping things organized, clean and at their proper location.
- Batching tasks (like answering e-mails, or paperwork or phone calls, or bank bills). Making a list and getting the important stuff done early. Combining things (e.g. cardio with checking e-mails, reading the news).
- Setting limits. For example, refusing additional tasks or responsibilities unless others have been removed. Avoiding long conversations at work or other places.
- Changing or eliminating unnecessary activities, such as minimizing meetings at work, disconnecting when possible, limiting instant messaging, twitter, forums, etc. Avoiding watching too much TV.
- Planning and scheduling. Keeping a calendar. Planning the weekly menu (e.g. grocery, cooking). Preparing the night before for the day that will come.
- Adjusting to the unexpected (problem solving).
- Observing patterns and trends in behavior (monitoring) and reconsidering goals and priorities on a regular basis (evaluation).
The interested reader could try the Time Management Behavior (TMB) and the Time Management Questionnaire (TMQ) scales. These instruments appear to possess the strongest evidence of validity and reliability in measuring general time management skills and behaviors (see details in Hellsten 2012).