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Prioritization: When Life Gets in the Way… Where to Give In and How to Minimize the Damage

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Hey everyone, Derek here. Originally this was going to be the 5th and final post in our fat loss series, however we’re going to interrupt that series for this post.

The past week as been a little crazy so it seemed like a perfect time to write about how we manage priorities when life gets busy. Below is our post: Prioritization: When Life Gets in the Way… Where to Give In and How to Minimize the Damage.

Before reading, please take a minute to check out our About Us and Blog Disclaimers pages to get some context of who we are and what you need to keep in mind while reading our posts.


Sometimes, life just gets crazy. Between a dinner with friends on Saturday, helping family with some moving preparations on Sunday, and an Australia day party for Rach’s sister on Monday, we had a busy weekend for social events. On top of that we’re creating programs for our first two coaching clients this week, preparing documents for what could be a very good business opportunity and attempting to continue maintaining performance at our full time jobs.

Then, this weekend we’re helping my parents AND my brother move and Rach is working both days. There just seems to be no relief. That doesn’t even bring mention of fitting in our workouts and keeping our nutrition on track.

Needless to say, something has to give.

I’m sure everyone out there has had similar weeks. The question is, how do we prioritize around this? Do we cut out time with family and friends? Skip multiple workouts? Do we let our clients down or go on 4 hours of sleep a night?

None of those are good options.

We’ve made a commitment to not let our business get in the way of our relationship with each other or spending time with family and friends. We’ve also committed to keeping Friday and Saturday nights as date nights or social nights and Sunday’s as time for God and as mostly business-free time to recover and spend with family.

The advice on where to give in will vary from person to person, but the approach I prefer combines a few sacrifices in a few areas to avoid completely destroying one area.

In the Gym

Over the past month I have traded in my 30-45 minute 3 time per week upper/lower split workouts for twice daily 5-20 minute full body workouts.

Each day I’ll do 1-4 sets of kettlebell swings, front lever swings (Google them if you don’t know what they are) and handstand holds all to a point of slight fatigue, but not near muscular failure. This avoids getting into excessive sleep needs and allows me to train each day without getting burnt out. I’ll also often add in chin-ups, inverted rows or push-ups as well if I’m feeling good.

For this week I’ll likely maintain the same workout structure, however I’ll be fully prepared for the possibility of missing a day or two here and there and I’ll be reducing the length and intensity of my workouts to minimize sleep requirement. (i.e. no deadlifts or failure training.)

With this plan I still getting most of the benefits of working out while significantly reducing the time commitment to make room for the extra commitments this week.

In Our Sleep

While I would love to keep my sleep at a full 8 or 9 hours, that simply won’t be possible this week. Over the past month or so I’ve gotten 6-8 hours depending on the night, which isn’t bad, but I expect that this week it will be sticking around 6 hours each night.

Because we work full time aside from the business, it will be pretty much impossible to maintain a full sleep schedule while still accomplishing everything we need to do. It’s just a simple fact of life right now.

With that said, sleep deprivation beyond a certain tipping point will decrease productivity and work quality to a point where it's worse than if I had just slept in and worked for fewer more effective hours.

The key is to find that tipping point and stay on the right side of it.

For me that point is at about 6 hours of high quality sleep a night with an occasional 4 hour night thrown in when I really need to get something done.

For more on maximizing sleep quality, check out this quick two page PDF on sleep hygiene by Dan Pardi of Dan's Plan. (Dan is also featured in Episode 49 of the Jay Ferruggia Show.)

In Our Budget

Call us crazy, but we’ve called in help from outside. Yes it costs money to pay for cleaning service or buy prepared food, but when the other alternatives were giving up on the business, cutting out family time, sleeping 4 hours a night for months on end or quitting the full time jobs that are paying the bills, the decision was really quite easy.

We also put a premium on spending money that saves us time. We’ll pay an extra $4 a week to save 20 minutes of cutting lettuce and pay $3 per bar for Quest Bars that save us time.

Yes it’s painful to let that money go out of your pocket when you could do the cleaning yourself, but when you’re out of time it takes money to free that time up again. You're giving up something from somewhere and in our case we've already given up as much of our sleep fitness and family time as we're willing to give.

This week we’ve added the expense of additional quest bars above and beyond what we were consuming before. While not overly healthy, they’re not particularly unhealthy either. They keep us on track with our goals and take no time to prepare. When life is busy that’s a sacrifice we’re prepared to make.

Minimizing the Damage

Although it is necessary during busy times like this to cut back your time commitment in areas listed above, be careful not to cut them back too far.

Doing meditative breathing, getting quality sleep and doing some form of exercise every day all boost productivity, sleep quality and makes sure that stress levels don’t get too out of control.

They take time, time that you may not think you have, but the reality is that cutting them out completely will leave you overstressed, underproductive and worse off in the end.

Adam Bornstein has a great reflective post on this topic here as well if you’re interested in further reading.

When life gets tough we have to cut back. That’s just the reality. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up completely. Dig in, stay positive and take some time for recovery when you get through it.

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Sincerely,

Derek & Rachel
Live For Today Fitness