As a young mom, I devoured parenting magazines and, had they been invented yet, with certainty I would have been addicted to Mommy Blogs. Tease me with headlines promising ways to “find time” or “sanity and time-saving tips for crazed-moms-on-the-go” and that was all it took to lure me in to devour every bit of advice. What the articles should have told me (if they were honest) is that there would be no (as in zero, zippo) uninterrupted, unaccounted for, free time until the kids crossed the threshold toward independence, and even then the odds of having free time on any given day would be slim to none.
Our kids are in their teens and, no doubt, life’s logistics are easier than they used to be. Once in awhile, I can actually take an uninterrupted shower or finish a book whilst lounging on the deck – previously unheard of luxuries. Unfortunately, this does not mean that I have “found” the abundance of “free” time that I was promised by all of those well-intentioned parenting advice columnists. Indeed, regrettably, I finally have come to accept that I cannot manufacture, borrow, create, or find time. I get exactly 24 hours in a day, and not a minute more, and it will never be enough.
The intersection between time management and exercise also is undeniable – and the corresponding volume of articles written about how to make time for exercise is staggering – rivaling its time-management-for-parents counterpart. No longer confined to the space between magazine covers, information about how best to incorporate exercise into your schedule is found in social media, national media, blogs, podcasts, apps, and personal devices. You want tips and tools to make exercise happen? There are thousands of them out there. Personally, and I’m not sure that this is something to be proud of, I have seven apps and three devices to hold me accountable – including one new and shiny one that also tells time.
But do they help?
Maybe. But I think that the real answer to the time problem is not in devices or magazine pieces – the answer comes when you re-frame the issue. You will never “find time” to exercise – it does not exist, because there always will be a thousand other things that will fill that space. But, you can prioritize that time, and guard it like you mean it.
Waiting for a meeting the other day, I was talking with a colleague who was asking about my running and half-heartedly lamenting the fact that he could “never find time for that” given his demanding case load, as if exercise was a frivolity reserved for those who had fewer demands on their time (as if). My response was immediate and automatic: “You would be surprised about the level of thinking that goes on during those runs.” And it’s true – whether you are sorting through career strategies, family stresses, what’s for dinner, or how to solve the world’s problems, exercise (and for me, running) provides the time and space to sort things out. Both physically and mentally, exercise makes me a healthier and better version of who I am. I did not find new time for this to happen, but I made time.
And should I ever forget to do so, no doubt there will be magazine headlines at the grocery store and app alarms on my phone to remind me.