A little over a month ago, I had a scheduling epiphany. I had been saying (possibly for years) that I should do regular strength training. I was also frustrated with a small chunk of time in my “typical” weekday schedule that I could not see how to use well. After running my 11-year-old to middle school (or clearing the breakfast dishes), I had about 15 minutes before I started getting my 9- and 7-year-old out to the bus stop. I deleted emails that had come in overnight, or did administrative work (like mailing a check or filing an invoice) but it felt like a waste.
Then, a little over a month ago, I thought, hey! I should use that 15 minute window for strength work!
So I looked up some kettle bell exercises, and pulled out my resistance bands. I pulled together a routine and committed to noting on my time logs when I did it.
I realized, quickly, that this habit had a high chance of sticking. There’s a definite cue (I walk into my office around 8:10 a.m.). I’m using time I otherwise wasn’t using. There’s also a time limit (15 minutes!) so I’m not biting off more than I can chew. I get the payoff of writing my workouts down. (I suppose eventually I might be more buff but the habit is in its infancy!) All of these help distinguish a reasonable habit from wishful thinking.
So, a month in, how have I done?
The answer is reasonably, though it’s interesting to see how how often “typical” days happen in practice. If I were to describe a typical day, it would definitely involve my weight routine. However, for various reasons, I did the routine 3/5 weekdays the week of March 4, 4/5 weekdays the week of March 11, 4/5 weekdays the week of March 18, 2/5 weekdays the week of March 25, and 4/5 weekdays the week of April 1st. I did my weight routine every day I could reasonably be in my office at 8:10, but during that month, I had two morning kid conferences, two work trips requiring travel, one morning where I hadn’t managed to eat (so I elected to do that before jumping on my first phone call) and one morning where I had to shovel snow off the driveway.
In other words, what I might be tempted to describe as my “daily” habit never happened more than 4 times per week.
But! Four times a week is better than nothing. So is three times a week or twice a week. A month in I am enjoying my habit and I see no reason I’d stop. I probably won’t lift weights while we travel over spring break, but when I return to my office after, the cue — the weights and the time — will still be there, so I think I’ll be able to pick back up again.
Have you made a new habit stick? What were your strategies?