If you’re anything like me, you’ve made the I-don’t-have-time excuse a bazillion times… whether it was about cooking (guilty), working out (double guilty), or doing some other seemingly unpleasant task. It’s funny how I (and I know I’m not alone here) didn’t “have time” to workout, but I sure as hell had time to watch the Bachelorette (priorities, right?). So, if you struggle with the time excuse, believe me when I say: I’ve been there… and there are ways to get past it, I promise.
We always have time to do the things we enjoy doing or the things we see value in doing.
Think about that. If you don’t enjoy or value the thing that you’re doing, what chances are there that you’ll continue doing it? Pretty slim, right? And if you’re making excuse after excuse about doing this, that, or the other, there’s a good reason for it. Maybe the reason you’re making excuses about going to the gym is that you don’t enjoy the activities at the gym… and that’s ok! There’s no rule that says you have to go to the gym to be healthy. If you’re one of those that hates going to the gym, don’t go – do something else instead. Go dancing. Go biking. Go hiking. Play tag with the kids. Run around with the dog. Find an activity that you enjoy and make the time for it.
But, what if time actually IS short – what can you do if time is at a premium?
Multi-task. Multi-tasking is my favorite way to get some activity in without feeling like I have to give up something else. This is what I do –>
See that? That’s my make-shift treadmill desk, which is basically just a treadmill with a board over the handle bars to act as my desk (in my case, the desk is one of those floating shelves that was in the discount bin at IKEA). It’s nothing fancy, but keeping my laptop on this “desk” encourages me to use the treadmill every day. I can walk at a slow pace without it affecting my typing, so I can go through e-mails, write blog posts, check Facebook, talk on the phone, and I’ll usually bump up the speed if I’m just watching TV. And guess what? I actually LOVE doing it – I feel better, I sleep better, and I dare say that I’m a bit more productive (must be the boost in brain power and feel-good hormones that go along with being active). What I love about the treadmill is that there is no minimum time commitment needed – if I need to jump off to tend to the dinner that’s in the oven, that’s ok! If I only have a few minutes between outings, that’s ok! Jump on for a few minutes, then jump back off when you need to go.
Of course, there are other things that you could do to multi-task your activity (you could do any number of activities while on the phone, for example), but I’ve found that the treadmill is one of the least disruptive.
What if you’re good on the activity front, but you really struggle with making time to cook?
A lot of times when I hear complaints of having to cook, the real issues are usually either not having a plan ahead of time, lacking confidence in the kitchen, or not viewing cooking as enjoyable. Let’s break these down.
Make a plan
Planning can make or break your willingness to cook. How many times have you come home from work, stood in front of the fridge (while giving the contents of the fridge an intense gaze), then said, “screw it – I’ll just go and get something”? Been there, done that. If, however, you already planned on what you would make for dinner (you had all of the ingredients on hand and maybe even had some of the prep work done ahead of time), you’d be much more likely to prepare it.
There’s one way of preparing meals that is all about planning ahead, but usually requires very little hands-on work or baby sitting once it’s started. If this sounds appealing, then you should get acquainted with a slow cooker. Slow cooker meals usually just require some simple chopping – the rest of the work is pretty much done for you (requiring very few cooking skills on your part). Imagine getting home from work and having your dinner magically sitting there waiting for you. Who wouldn’t want that?!
Gain some confidence
It’s funny how many folks think that they just weren’t born with the “cooking gene” – that some of us have the ability to cook, and some of us just don’t. Nobody just comes out of the womb with a spatula in hand – cooking is something that’s learned over time. And I’m not gonna lie… there will be plenty of f*ck-ups along the way. Embrace the failures – each failure is a new opportunity to learn and grow. If you keep at it (and don’t just give up), you could become a pretty damn good cook and gain more and more confidence along the way.
Not sure where to start? Invest in a cookbook to learn the basics, like Betty Crocker Cookbook (which was one of my first cookbooks). After you have some of the basic stuff down, move on to fancier and more complex meals. If you can read and follow instructions, you can cook – trust me.
Make it fun
Believe or not, you can actually make cooking fun. “Fun” is a frame of mind – once you decide to take interest in cooking and to try experimenting and maybe even involving other people in the process, cooking can be downright enjoyable.
Some of my fondest memories as a kid were around the holidays when my mom and I would be cooking up a storm – I learned that cooking boiled down to following instructions, but having fun with cooking could be how you present your “masterpieces”, imagining the joy that your creations will bring to others, doing some experimenting to see if you could make your recipe even better, and yes, spending time with loved ones while doing it.
If you have a spouse/partner, family members, or friends that you eat with, ask them to join you in the kitchen (and maybe even blast some enjoyable music in the background). If you have kids, involve them in the cooking process. Kids can start “helping” at a very early age – just give them tasks that are appropriate for their stage of development.
I hope by now you’ve realized that maybe you don’t have “time” for certain activities because you just haven’t found ways to make them enjoyable or convenient to do yet. If you truly don’t want to do something, there’s probably a pretty good reason for it – listen to yourself and figure out what it is about that activity that you don’t enjoy, then find a way to get around it.
Now, in the comments below, I’d love to know:
What activities have you been avoiding?
What are your real reasons for avoiding them?
What ideas do you have to make those activities (or similar activities) more do-able?
Until next time,