The Art of Good Time Keeping

About 3 months ago I was never one for time management or organisation. I would do things when they needed to be done and not in advance. At the time it worked well because I was in college and I could sculpt my college timetable around my training and eating and no one really cared too much. It wasn’t until I had finished my last exam and had a week of lazing around doing nothing but training and eating that I started my first ever full time job – and I’m talking Monday to Friday, 7:40am start till at least 3pm leave, most days not until about 4:15pm.

The difference is that at work people do care as opposed to college. This was a kick up the ass for me cause organisation was not my thing. For the majority of you a full time job is nothing new, but for me this was something very different.

I realised that I had to do something to keep me in the good books with my new bosses and something to keep me ticking along nicely with my training. I knew that if I continued the way I was going I would get nowhere fast, therefore I decided that the best thing to do [and something I’d been meaning to do for a long time] was quite simply, cut. I figured this would be the best way to keep my training as my priority and thus would keep me in the right, organised mentality – I wasn’t gonna screw up and let my muscle that I’d been building for the past two years go to waste.

I set out and developed a plan.

In all honesty, I have never done a ‘real’ cutting diet where I retain as much muscle as possible and lose only fat – I’ve never been this big. Therefore I asked for advice off several members and I even managed to enlist the help of a very knowledgeable member in the field for every step of the way. He gave me all the knowledge on the subject he had and is helping every week with any adjustments that need to be made. This also helped because I thought that if someone was going out of his way to help me I wasn’t going to waste his time.

Because several of my meals involve cooking, I had to organise myself at least a day in advance for them. Therefore, each morning as I got up out of bed and passed the freezer I would remove however many chicken I needed for the following day. These are what I would cook that night after training once they had defrosted.

I get a special bus to work each day which comes at 7:25am sharp, therefore I needed to wake up with enough time to cook my breakfast and get my head sorted for the day ahead [and for pre-breakfast cardio which begins in a couple of weeks God damn…] I set my alarm clock for 6:45am, knowing that it is 5 minutes fast. This gave me enough time to fully wake myself and get a shower if I felt I needed one. I would set the kettle boiling for my green tea and I would get started on my eggs – currently 3 whites and 3 whole. Mmmmm…. While they cook in the microwave I would weigh out my oatmeal and put it in a bowl ready for water and then consumption. This may seem like silly little things to you, but they really do help keep you organised. I find it best to get stuck into a routine so you forget nothing in the morning daze.

Once I had eaten breakfast my green tea would be ready to drink – incidentally, I drink it as I get dressed. This would give me about five to ten minutes to reflect on the day ahead. I then get my food [in containers] from the fridge, throw them in my bag and I’m set for work.

I eat my meals while at work at my desk, so because of my organisation, my diet is pretty much near perfect. I always cook and take enough meals so that if I ever have to stay later than usual I would be prepared. Make sure you too take that into consideration when organising your training and diet around your life.

If I get the special bus home at about 4:15pm then I arrive back home for about 4:40pm. I train at about 5:30pm and since my gym is about a 15 minute walk away I set out in advance [always thinking ahead.] This gives me 45 minutes to check any email, check the news, get my training gear sorted, eat any meals, drink some coffee [or green tea], organise a night out on the weekend, generally, just some free time to myself. One thing I do every second or third day is go to the store to buy fresh vegetables – I never eat veggies that have been sitting on my rack for more than two days.

Training time for me varies between 60 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on my level of fatigue or energy – if I’m more tired than usual I never rush into my sets, I give 110% EVERY TIME. One thing I did notice on a cutting diet is how my sessions take slightly longer than if I was ‘bulking’.

I’d get home for about 7pm and I’d have my post training meal [if I didn’t take it to the gym with me.] For me this is two scoops of whey isolate and oatmeal. After dieting for 6+ weeks you’d be surprised at how ‘tasty’ and satisfying oatmeal and water can be! By 12 weeks I expect it to taste like a gourmet meal…[Editor’s note: “It does.”]

After training I’m sweaty and tired and all I want to do is lie back and do pretty much nothing, but because there is another day tomorrow this will have to wait. The chicken I removed from the freezer to defrost this morning is defrosted by now, and ready for me to cook. I put the kettle on to boil, turn the oven on and begin preparing the chicken. Once the chicken is ready to put in the oven I do so, and by this time the kettle has boiled. I weigh out my brown rice and vegetables for the next day’s meals and put them on to boil and steam respectively. The chicken takes about 25 minutes, the rice about 20 minutes and the veggies 10-15. I find taking a shower right about now a good gauge so that I don’t forget about my food and burn it, which I have done a few times in the past. Through trial and error I have found this to be a good way to do it because I take about 20 minutes to get showered, dried and dressed so by the time I’m finished my food is pretty much done.

I let my food cool for a few hours. By this time it is about 8pm. Because of such an early morning I go to bed between 10pm and 10:30pm so this gives me 2 hours to myself which I usually spend playing my guitar, eating, watching TV, surfing the net or all four at once! After training I don’t think there’s anything else I could physically do.

At just before 10pm I sort my food out, put it into containers and put it in the fridge ready for the following day’s activities, whether it be work or whatever springs up – I’m always prepared so my diet NEVER suffers. By 10:30pm I’m dozing off into my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and repair.

As I write this I have 7 weeks of cutting under my belt and I predict another 7 more before I become a member of ‘the 6% club.’[Editor’s note: “Have 12 weeks done and still not a member.] These may seem like little things, but like you mother probably always used to say, “It’s the little things that count.”

So now you all know how I became organised and managed to keep my training and diet my priority, I hope you all do the same. I plan to use my own advice next month when I start a new challenge – keeping my priorities despite the adversities of University!

Mastering the Art of Time Management – Ten Tips for good time keeping

1. Think ahead – Ask yourself what could prevent you from eating a perfect diet today?

2. Be prepared – Any possibilities could arise. A good method is cooking your meals up the night before or waking up earlier to cook them in the morning.

3. Expect the unexpected – Never believe that things will go smoothly, just try your best to make it as perfect as possible. Obviously work or College is priority so do your best around these.

4. Plan in advance – Plan out what times you need to eat each meal and keep a mental log in your mind.

5. Be aware – Remember the times when your meals have to be eaten and try your best to get these times or at least no more than ten minutes out. Make your short-term goal to get your next meal on time, and when you do, make it the goal for the next meal. Always strive to better previous performances.

6. DON’T WASTE TIME! – Always leave yourself plenty time to cook and prepare meals. I am guilty of this one folks. Be aware of how long certain foods take to cook and/or cool. You don’t want to forget about cooking times and end up having to stay up late to cook your meals – this eats into your sleeping time and could adversely affect your training.

7. Training plan – Planning your training around your meal plan and not vice-versa is a good way of keeping your diet plan as near to perfect as possible.

8. Convenience – Carry foods with you that are more convenient to eat on the go, for example, a turkey sandwich is more convenience than scrambled eggs.

9. Supplement – Real food is best but protein bars and MRP’s do have their place in your diet if necessary. An example would be if you only have five minutes between classes and you need food then – a MRP is an excellent idea.

10. Enjoy – Last but not least; enjoy your food eaten on time.

Follow these basic guidelines to make your perfect diet perfectly timed.

Written by Robert Clarke

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