A few don'ts to consider
- Don't stay up late watching lame shows on TV. Go to bed early, get up early and head to the gym to exercise. Or take your family and go walking in your neighborhood, county park or on a walking track.
- Don't try so hard to please your family with all the proper food groups. When pushed for time whole-grain cereal with milk, fresh fruit, yogurt, juice and peanut butter are favorites for all family members, take just minutes to put on the table and can fulfill all of the food groups. The five course meal will have to wait.
- Don't keep searching your calendar for an hour block of time to go to the gym or health club and away from your family. Look for those opportunities to play and be active together. Playing in the park, biking, walking at the zoo, raking and playing in the leaves are all fun for kids and provide a chance to be active.
STOP! Before you read any further, take out a piece of paper. Draw a large circle.
Ready now? Look at the circle you've drawn and think of it as a clock with 24 hours. Halfway around would equal 12 hours.
Put a dot at the top of the circle and label that dot with the time you get up to begin your day. Put a second dot at the point on the circle proportional to the number of hours later when you go to bed. Draw a pie-shaped wedge to the center of your circle from the two dots.
For example, if you sleep about eight hours, your "sleep section" will fill about one third of your 24-hour clock.
Next, quickly think through a typical day. Divide the rest of the clock into wedges that show how much time is spent in other activities. Label the different areas: work, eat, prepare meals, commute, work around house, watch TV, etc.
With the start of the New Year, rather than adding "take a time management class" to your to-do list, consider starting a "don't-do" list. If you're like most people, your circle could use a few more hours to accommodate your daily to-do list activities. Or, you might wish for extra hours to accomplish personal goals such as learning to speak another language.
You may discover that doing less can bring more enjoyment to your life. Especially if doing less allows you to spend time doing more to contribute to your health and happiness!
Exercise, diet and spending time with your family are three areas often given short shrift in the typical time-squeezed day. Yet they are important for our overall quality of life.
Free up your time so you can achieve your personal fitness goals and spend more time with the most important people in your life.
"Great idea," you may be thinking, "but how?" Here are some tips from time-savvy registered dietitians who were asked: What one or more things have you stopped doing to have more time to focus on family, eating healthy and exercising?
"The most helpful thing that I can think of that I have done to make more time is that we moved our TV set out of our living room on the main floor of our home, to the rec room in our basement. I watch very little TV now that I have to make the intentional decision to go downstairs to watch it; what I do watch is usually planned watching and not something I just happened to get interested in because the set was on and it caught my eye."
"I refuse to buy any clothing for me or my family members that requires ironing."
"I stopped painting my fingernails to have time for a swimming program. I used to spend one night a week on my nails and now I spend it swimming instead."
"I replaced styling my hair, mousse and hair spray and got a wash and wear haircut so I can work out during my lunch hour and still get back to work."
"Instead of getting together with girlfriends for birthday lunches, we get together for birthday runs or bike rides."
Now. Go back to the circle that you divided into time spent on daily activities. Look it over and ask "What can I leave out?" Start thinking "don't do" and start "don't doing" it NOW!
Adapted from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension
Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.