“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

-Zig Ziglar

The most common reason (excuse) for poor exercise habits we hear is a lack of time. It tops all of the other reasons combined, including finances, injuries, and access to a training facility. But are we really all that busy? Does 70% of our society (the percent that get no exercise) have NO free time? And does the other 30% have boundless free time that allows them to exercise and train 5-6 days per week? It’s unlikely. We all have the same 24 hours per day, and 168 hours in a week. We all need the same amount of sleep, and we all have jobs, stresses, and surprise emergencies.

So how do some manage, while many do not? The answer is planning and execution. When we make a plan, record our plan, and hold ourselves accountable to our plan, we are always more successful than if we just live day to day, and hour to hour.

Here are several ways to help you plan your lives so that you can find time for what’s important:

1. Plan your meals. Every weekend, write down what you and your family will be eating that week. Make sure to include dinner, lunch, and breakfast. If you’re going to eat out, put that on there. For the meals you’re going to cook, make out a grocery for the entire week and do that shopping on the weekend. This will save you lots of time and you will spend less time running around at the last minute.

2. Plan when you will exercise. This means the day, and the time. By putting it on paper, you will not allow yourself to schedule over it. Put it in your calendar, and let your family know when you will be working out. Treat it like you would any other important appointment. And remember, exercise is not a leisure activity – it is a necessary activity that you cannot skip. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty for working out and taking care of yourself – you can’t take care of anyone else if you can’t take care of your self first.

3. Plan the amount of time you’ll spend on BS activity. This would be any activity that doesn’t promote any sort of personal development. TV, Social Media (unless business related), and lying around are good examples of this. There’s nothing wrong with activities such as these – we all need them – but you need to decide how much time you need for them, and stick to that amount. Too often we grab our phones to check an email, and the next thing you know you’ve invested 30 minutes in a twitter feud.

4. Set aside time to read a book. There’s no shortage of research that documents the tremendous benefits of intellectual stimulation, and a book is a great way to get that. And if possible, read an actual book. The jury’s still out on whether screen time can be harmful to adults, so mitigate the time reading a book on a tablet/phone as much as you can.

5. Plan family time. Write it on a calendar. It seems silly, and maybe unnecessary, but you will do more with your family if you plan it. Even if its just a 30 minute walk. Put it on the calendar.