From January 10 to January 16, thousands of folks tracked their time for my 2022 Time Tracking Challenge. (You can use the sign-up form on that page to get the week of daily emails anytime you’d like; sign up by early Sunday for the Monday start). I invited people to send me their logs afterwards, and I’ve enjoyed seeing people’s lives and schedules.
Sometimes in a busy life, we need to get creative to fit things in. So I wanted to share one intriguing strategy I saw on a log that I think other folks might consider trying.
Reader Nicole is a lawyer who is also the mother of a 3-year-old girl. She is currently remodeling her house which, I can report from experience, is a time-consuming activity. The week she logged featured the usual component of schedule busting events, both bad (an emergency vet visit) and good (getting a rather long night out when some extended family in town offered to take the 3-year-old).
Amid all this, she maintained a regular exercise routine and spent a lot of time with friends. How? With what she calls the “5 a.m. club.”
Basically, as I saw on her log, on three mornings each week at 5 a.m., she meets a few friends who live in the neighborhood. They walk 2.7 miles in about 45 minutes each time. (Nicole’s sleeping husband can be at home with the 3-year-old.)
As Nicole explains, “No one has anything else on their calendar at 5am so unless one of us is out of town, we meet now on MWF and walk our neighborhood loop. This then gives 2 of us another hour before kids and partners wake up to have that cup of hot coffee and I (like Sarah) play with my planner and read. The other two start getting middle schoolers ready.”
To be sure, waking up at 4:40 a.m. three times a week requires going to bed on time. But I’d note for anyone attempting this that a bedtime of 9:30/9:45 p.m. wouldn’t be so ridiculous (particularly if you have young kids who go to bed relatively early). Nicole also sleeps a little later on the other mornings, since she doesn’t have to be at work at a particularly early time. She averaged about 7.2 hours/day over the whole week.
But with this one habit, she manages to exercise and see friends at least three times a week. I am pretty sure she enjoys it enough that she finds it worth it (she even got up on the morning after she was at the vet quite late with her dog! The dog is OK now.).
So if you have neighborhood friends you’d like to see, and a busy schedule after 6 a.m., this might be worth pondering as a strategy. Or maybe it could be a 6 a.m. club if you’re busy after 7. Or even an 8 p.m. club if that’s the time of day that works for neighborhood friends with little kids who go to bed early. Wear headlamps or stay on the side walks if you have them.
But combining exercise and social time, and doing so multiple times per week, can really make life feel good. Nicole notes that “[I] love my friends I walk with and it is a joy to see them.” She says that “Walking feels like nothing but on a day I miss I am grumpy so I know it helps to move.”
It does. Now I need to go run (just not at 5 a.m.! Did I mention I’m not really a morning person…?)
Photo: Come home from an early walk to enjoy this…