Time management was never my strong suit. As a long time (and high functioning) procrastinator, getting things done ahead of schedule was not my idea of a good time. Honestly, I didn’t understand how people fit so much stuff into their day. It sounded awful and exhausting but also, totally impossible.
I stumbled upon fighting about 2 or 3 months before I started working a full time, 9-5, salaried job. In that blissful few months of all-the-time training, I didn’t have to think about when I fell asleep or when I cooked or how I was going to fit in recovery. I had all the time in the world to train, rest, eat and do whatever else I wanted!
And then reality came crashing in and I had to start “adulting” again. Don’t get me wrong--I love my job (most of the time) and having a steady income is a blessing. But it has presented me with a unique issue: how do I advance my career and my athletic aspirations, simultaneously? And how do I have time for family and friends and a life outside of it all?!
Well, to be honest, it’s not glamorous or exciting and it requires a lot of (drumroll, please) discipline. But impossible? Definitely not. This is what I've learned while juggling two full-time commitments, plus relationships and, you know, "a life":
Meal prep y’all
I’m still getting the hang of this one. But thus far, it’s proving to be incredibly helpful! Seeing as I’m just weeks out from a fight, I have to adhere to a strict diet to get me through workouts while still cutting weight. Eating healthy is difficult enough but eating absurd amounts of broccoli and baked chicken for every meal requires prep work so I’m not stuck somewhere without food I can eat and possibly subject innocent people to my hanger.
No Mo' Couch Potato
I LOVE NETFLIX. Stranger Things, Making a Murderer? Binge watched in a weekend, duh. Not to mention my unhealthy obsession with Friends. But on a day to day basis, I don’t watch any tv. I don’t have an extra minute to spare and definitely not the 40+ minutes that always happen when you sit down to watch just “one” episode. Save movies and shows for downtime, i.e., Saturday.
Date Night with the Important People
To prevent overtraining (and general insanity) I take 2 days off per week to rest and recharge. So I spend that time with the people who matter most to me. It takes the guesswork out of when I’ll get to see them; I know Tuesdays are date night and the weekend is when I spend some time with family and friends.
Set your Intention
This sounds way more Zen than it is. I don’t mean just think something happy; definitely do that, but also, I write down something specific I want to accomplish at work and something specific to work on in training. When I get to work in the morning, before things get too crazy, I pick one thing I want to work on outside of just completing my projects. Then, in the car on the way to training, I do the same thing. This helps me grow in small ways every day.
Ask for Help
Seriously, what is the big deal about asking for help? We’re all so afraid of it, but when you’re basically working two jobs and one of them costs you money, you learn to ask for help. My family is nearby, so if I need something (i.e., forgot to bring lunch or don't have time to run an errand), I know I have someone I can ask for help.
Weekend Part 1: RELAX
Most people kick back on Sunday but that’s actually my cooking/shopping day. Friday night and Saturday are my time to do whatever I want, whether that be Netflix and wine with my roommate or writing a blog like this one, I just kick back and don’t worry about all the details of the upcoming week. I spend time doing the things I enjoy outside of training.
Weekend Part 2: Get Sh*t DONE
Getting all my food bought, cooked, and packed on Sunday allows me to not stress during the week, and that’s a HUGE motivator to get it all taken care of. It is extremely tiring but the necessity of it outweighs my desire to put it off. I also do all my laundry, errands and whatever else I need to do on Sunday. I prefer to do it this way, instead of going from zero to 100, I’m already in “go mode” and ready to hit the ground running on Monday.
I train 1-2 hours, 5 days a week. I was training 6 until I pulled my hip flexor a few weeks ago and had to take an entire week off from anything. With my next fight less than two months away, I don’t have time for any injuries. So, I have to make the most of both my time in the gym and my time recovering. This means foam rolling and stretching multiple times a day, in the office, at the gym and at home. Ten minutes a couple times a day is enough to keep stiffness from slowing me down later on.
Laser Focus is Necessary
Since I started working, I’ve gotten a promotion. Since I started training, I’ve taken one fight and have another fast approaching. This wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t focus completely on what I’m doing, when I’m doing it. When I’m at work, my mind has to be focused and sharp. It can’t wander off and think about training, and vice versa when I’m in the gym. Focus comes with practice and guiding your mind (and here's some good tips).
Be Your Biggest Fan, Not Your Biggest Critic
This is up there in importance. You can’t think about what you’re lacking in; you can’t seek out approval for how you live your life. You have to support yourself, affirm yourself and be kind to yourself. When I start beating myself up, I stop and think, “Is this thought encouraging or discouraging me right now?” (Stolen from: here). It’s important to constantly encourage and praise yourself for your hard work; because you are, in fact, working really, really, really hard.
A monotonous and predictable schedule does not sound glamorous or fun. But the thing is, I love it. I don’t love cooking for 3 hours, or not being in the position to indulge in late night ice cream and Netflix whenever I want, but I love knowing that every single day, I’m kicking ass at work and in the gym. And by cutting away the excess in life, the stuff that is supposed to make us feel fulfilled but really just distracts us, I’m able to streamline my time to create a life that’s both productive and pretty freaking great.
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