June 10, 2012 -- Lack of time is the most common excuse women give for skipping exercise. Between family and work, carpool and dishes, time can feel like the ultimate limited resource—and one you're helpless to change, at that.
It's true, you can't stop the clock from ticking any more than you can convince the car to go get its own oil change. But as busy as you are, there are extra minutes hiding in your day that you could use more effectively if you knew how to pinpoint them. So put on your detective hat and let's get started.
Do a Time Inventory
Take 2 days (starting now!) and keep track of exactly how you spend your time. It turns out that Americans have nearly twice as much downtime as we think we do, according to a poll by Harris Interactive. Often this extra time is hidden in chunks through the day, making it easy to miss, but writing it down helps you to see time sucks for what they are.
Settle for Imperfect
Women are notorious perfectionists.
"You just have to prioritize sometimes," says Jessica Smith, a personal trainer and certified wellness coach in Miami. "Look at the house and say, 'Maybe the house isn't perfect today, but I'm going to get my workout in.'"
Think you're a master at doing three things at once? Scientists beg to differ.
A collaboration between Microsoft and researchers at the University of Illinois studied actual workers' computer activity over 2 weeks to see how much of a slowdown actually occurred when people stopped what they were doing to check e-mail or respond to an instant chat message. It turns out e-mail breaks averaged 10 minutes, while chat conversations pulled workers away from the project they were working on for an average of 8 minutes a pop. Turn off new message alerts and you might just find you have time for a workout.
Fill Your Empty Pockets of Time
You might think finding a spare 10 minutes in your day is more like finding a nickel in your pocket than a $20 bill. But it worked for Merry Buckley, who lost 11 because of newfound time.
"Having something to do while I'm also watching the kids or getting dinner started or cycling the laundry really helps," she says. "It's not like running, where I have to have a block of time with no responsibilities for a half hour or an hour. It can be broken up into the time I have."
The bottom line: Every little bit counts.
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