Tag Archives: fitness

How to get more done

Weekends in the library.

Weekends in the library.

So it turns out that working full time, on top of doing a Policy Research MSc, Fundraising Diploma and NVQ in Management, plus keeping up a regular gym routine does not leave any room for regular blogging. (Apologies). But it does teach you a thing or two about getting shit done. So here’s a list of things that I’ve learnt about fitting more into your day.

Build things into your routine if you want to get things done.

Every other day, my alarm goes off at 6am. It’s dark and it’s cold, but I don’t give myself an option of staying in bed. I eat, pack and make it to the gym by 7am. I’ve finished my workout by 8am, and shower and dress before cycling to the office. I am usually at my desk by 8.45am.

It seemed brutal when I started, but getting up an hour earlier doesn’t have a negative effect on my day. If anything, lifting weights before work makes me feel pretty badass. And the exercise make me more awake than I am on my rest days. Getting up an hour earlier means I workout 3 or 4 times a week, without losing any time from my evenings.

I bet you want my Peanuts vest.

I bet you want my Peanuts vest.

The thing is, if I asked myself every morning at 6am, “Should I go to the gym or not?” I never ever would. I would go back to sleep every time. So I don’t give myself the option; I make it a non-negotiable part of my routine.

A day is longer than you think

I used to write off the day after 8pm. I said “Oh there’s no point in doing anything now”. So I settled down to watch several hours of Netflix or read a novel before bed. It turns out, there’s still a lot I can do after 8pm, even if I am a little tired. Some evenings I have settled down with a cup of tea, and done several hours of essay writing or studying. Of course, it’s important to have some downtime too. But learning that I can so good work late into the evening has taken some of the pressure off my day and ensured I get a lot more done than I thought possible.

I can work even when I’m not in the mood

As well as ‘It’s too late’, another excuse I used to give for not doing what I wanted to get done was “I’m too tired/sad/not just in the mood.” I used to wait until inspiration struck. Now I can no longer afford to do that, I’ve discovered that I can work when I’m not in the mood. Sometimes I need to bribe myself with chocolate, but once I start, I often get into it and want to work for longer than I planned.

Prioritise.

Of course, you can’t do everything, and having a lot to do really forces you to work out what’s serving you and what isn’t. I no longer go out drinking or partying unless it’s something I am really excited about. I spend less time wandering town and window shopping. I only hang out with the people that I’m genuinely interested in catching up with. And while I’ve wanted to blog more than I have done, the experience has made me realise that it’s not as important to me as being on top of my uni work, crafting or Skyping with Grit.

Take time off in the way that’s right for you.

I take less time out for myself than I used to, so I have to use the time wisely and in the way that I’m going to find most relaxing. As an introvert, this sometimes (okay, often) means turning down social invites for a night in watching Gilmore Girls. This means I’m most recharged for my next productive day.

What happens when you stop fighting?

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After I was diagnosed with “severe anxiety” I resigned myself to a lifetime of panic attacks and mood swings. Once I did that, I stopped having them.

Okay, it’s only been about three weeks since I last broke down in hyperventilating hysterics for no real reason at all, so I hardly think I’m “cured”. But it turns out that things get much easier once you stop beating yourself up about something and start showing yourself compassion.

I stopped telling myself I needed to stop being so ridiculous, and let myself relax. I stopped panicking that I was about to start panicking, and accepted that I probably would at some point, but it would be okay and that I didn’t need to worry about it before it happened. I accepted that I was ill, and I started treating myself more like somebody who needed a bit of help. I went to bed early, I stopped insisting that all my time be productive, I stopped making myself do things I didn’t want to do.

Once I noticed how good this felt I started doing it in other areas of my life.
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Why I exercise

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When I was a student, somebody I knew once criticised me for going for a run because she considered it to be un-feminist. “But aren’t you conforming to patriarchal beauty standards by jogging to be thin?”

Firstly, even if I did want to “conform to patriarchal beauty standards” that would be my choice and it would be just fine if I wanted to.

Secondly, that’s a huge misconception about why women exercise. I say women, because I don’t think that men get this bullshit. Men are allowed to exercise to be fit, to be strong or because it’s fun. Women apparently exercise to loose weight. I know this because every time I talk about going to the gym at least one person chimes in and says, “But you don’t need to to to the gym! You’re so thin!”

Again, if I wanted to go the the gym to loose weight or to keep weight off that would be my choice and it would be just fine. But it’s not the reason I go to the gym so it’s really annoying. And it’s exactly this kind of attitude that does enforce the patriarchy, by assuming women are thinking about their weight all the goddamn time.

Anyway.

Now I have gotten that off my chest, I can move on to talking about the real reasons that I exercise.

I have another memory from around the same time that I was told that jogging what un-feminist. I remember running late at night, around and around the block in which I lived. I remember the way the street lamps hit the pavement, and I remember how powerful I felt. How alive it made me feel to work my legs and raise my heartbeat after a day hunched over a computer writing my dissertation. I remember how soundly I used to sleep, often still in my running kit, when I returned from these late night runs.
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What running a half marathon taught me about motivation

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly making my way through the Writer’s Workshop by Sarah Kathleen Peck. One of the many things I’ve taken from it so far is that being a successful writer is less about talent and more about practice. The people who succeed are┬áthose who show up and put in the work.
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