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  • Writer's pictureChris Toepker

Fitting it all in!

We all have a lot to fit into every day. Family, fitness, fun, and of course, work. With only 24 hours in a day, I’m constantly reminded of the old rally slogan: eight for work, eight for sleep, eight for all the rest.

Even then, there’s a ton to fit into those eight hours!

As I get used to my new city, I’m also attempting to establish new routines. Here’s a few things I’m putting into practice, hoping to make the most out of all the rest!

New challenges, this far north - frozen temps, always

Put simply, I overlap, and avoid doubling the time or halving the activities.

  • If I want to run, and also have to commute - make the commute my run. The office is just over 3km away, so running over there both saves time, and avoids doubling up for a quick run, and also commuting in. Need a little longer run, just commute a little further by taking “the long way” home.

  • If I want to do Hung Kuen practice, and also have to wait for the laundry - combine them, doing both at the same time. In these apartments, we have to sign up for a weekly spot to use the laundry room. Might as well stay there and work out while the machines are whirring away. I’ll have to find another way to double up another time in the week (once ain’t enough!), but this is a start. By the way, stay tuned! Maybe you'll see some laundry room kung fu here.

  • If I want my morning coffee, and also need to read, write and render - the ol’ laptop needs to come along, instead of a phone or iPad. By overlapping commute and run, I can easily read and write over coffee, and let videos and other items render in the background. What am I rendering? Why, 5 Minute Sunsets or Timelapse Trail Runs. Enjoy!

Ultimately, I think this will allow me to pack all the things I want to do. Or, at least get them started and adjust as needed.

Indeed, as writers such as Charles Duhigg and researchers such as Dr. Andrew Huberman point out: building new habits takes time. We must conscientiously examine the cue, routine and reward loop until we are gaining the results we want. Indeed, it’s the cue that triggers the rest, so I’m paying special attention to that.

No one has ever accused me of being under-prepared

I’m laying out my clothes, pack and other items I’ll need for the whole day, the night before. I’m putting my kung fu shoes next to the dirty laundry hamper. I’m leaving the iPad alone, and tucking the laptop (plus local power adapters) into the pack. Ha! Bonus! Extra weight.

Funny enough, I focus next on the reward. I make sure there’s a shower at the other end. No worries about being Sweaty Guy on the job. I pick out a great coffee shop, where the smells and tastes will feel great. I have the reading materials and rendering items all preloaded and cued.

Importantly, this becomes an investment, or what economists call a commitment device. I’ve spent the time and effort, so then, when the cue comes, it has extra weight. It’s harder to ignore. Then, as the routine gets underway, I have total confidence that the reward is going to be there.

Speaking of breakfasty rewards...!

That frees up all the mind space to actually enjoy the routine. That run through the wilderness or a dazzling urbanity, that Hung Kuen kung fu, that reading and writing.

It can feel odd to focus on the before and after, but I’ve found that by focusing on the desired practice, we often find the most frustration. Other things creep in and steer us right out of it! As you may have heard, only perfect practice makes perfect. So, to get there, unleash the habit techniques: invest (even minimally!) in preparing those cues and securing the rewards first. Then see where you might double up and make room for some of your most important things amongst all the rest.

We’d love to hear from you! What does your schedule look like? What workouts do you do, and how do you fit them in? What’s your cue and reward?

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