Time is of the essence, especially when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities along with a busy schedule. While we cannot add minutes to our days, we can use the minutes we have more wisely.
There are a few things you can do to more effectively use your time, and improve your health.
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Cook in batches. Once every week or two, cook extra-large portions of things like pasta sauce, chili or soup, and freeze them in family-sized portions. When you need a quick meal, simply thaw them and cook. This way, you have a fast, healthy meal that you did not spend time cooking from scratch.
Slash your screen time. One of the simplest time-savers is to cut back on the time you spend watching television. Binge-watching may feel good at the time, but a study found that people who pack in a few episodes of their favorite show back-to-back are more likely to feel depressed. Plus, you’re likely sitting still when you watch all that television, which is known to lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Be selective with what you watch and how much of a show you watch. At least if you’re intentional about what shows you watch, you won’t consume whatever is on and later realize it was a waste of time.
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Work with your body’s sleep cycle. Experiment with your schedule and bedtime until you know how much sleep you need. Adults need between seven and nine hours of rest per night. When you get adequate rest, you may be less likely to waste time trying to wake up and may spend less time dilly-dallying upon getting up. You will be focused on what needs to get done to start your day, and more apt to dive right into the tasks at hand.
Make workouts fit into your schedule. For many of us, the time it takes to drive to the gym, exercise and then go home can seem like an eternity—especially if that gym isn’t right around the corner. Instead, try to squeeze in activity—it can be beneficial even in short time frames. Take a walk while you’re on a conference call, use your employer’s gym, or start a home fitness routine to save time. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least 150 a minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity and get two strength-training sessions in as well. That can come down to just 30 minutes of activity a day. If you don’t have time for a 30-minute sweat session spread out your activities so they fit into your schedule. You may be more likely to stick with it when you are active during times when you actually feel like being active.
Learn to say “no.” Turning down something that you don’t have the energy to do is perfectly okay. When you manage your time in a way that works, you will find yourself more likely to spend time doing things you like and less time at events that you don’t want to attend. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests using the term “I don’t” as opposed to “I can’t” when responding to a request for your time worked better at helping people get out of unwanted commitments. This is because “I can’t” implies that the topic is up for debate, while “I don’t” demonstrates your boundaries more clearly.
Follow these time-saving tips for better health while navigating your busy schedule!
Board certified family medicine physician Sandra Arango-Fahmy, D.O., is part of Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group Primary Care, located in Suite 200, 3 Hospital Plaza, Raritan Bay Medical Center — Old Bridge.
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