Athletic Trainers’: This One’s For You, Again. (Part 3)

How much of your daily routine is actually under your control?

If we asked those I spend the most time with (family, friend and co-workers) to use 3 words to describe me, I’m pretty sure some version of “OCD” would consistently make the list. We will agree to disagree.  They say “OCD”, I say “prepared.”

My co-workers would tell you that every day for lunch I eat a ham sandwich with mustard and 2 slices of cheese followed by a Dark Chocolate bar.  Mondays and Fridays I stop at a local coffee shop close to work and on Fridays, I get a muffin.  Do NOT ask them about our shirt rotation.

My wife would tell you that every night, I lay my clothes out for the next day.  I make my lunch and place everything in the same spot.  I get the coffee for the next morning ready.  I have “rules” about where we are able to stop for gas/food when we travel.  She could also tell you what I will order at the most common restaurants we eat.

But here is a BIG secret – I HATE ham sandwiches, and I hate wearing blue on Mondays (though I do love the dark chocolate and orange Fridays).  So, then you are probably wondering, WHY?  Why have I eaten the same thing for lunch every day for years and why do I wear the same color shirt every Tuesday?

Time Theifs.

Simple – I hate missing lunch more than I hate the ham sandwich.  And, I hate standing there in the mornings wondering what to wear, or rushing around having to find a pair of pants as I’m trying to get out the door. I hate wasting time on trivial things.  Why? Because there are things I’d rather spend my life doing instead of standing and staring at a stupid McDonalds menu wondering what I want to eat (3 McDoubles and a Sweet Tea, IF I don’t feel like anything else ).  I don’t call it OCD, I call it a backup plan.  If we go to Great American Taco Company (if you are in Springfield – try them, best Taco’s in town) and the Enchiladas sound good, I’ll get the enchiladas.  If not, my backup is the Buffalo Chicken Taco.  I stage all my stuff the night before so that I don’t have to think or look for stuff in the morning where I don’t have a lot of extra time (While I do get up early, I hate it and don’t want to get up any earlier than needed.  What I hate more than getting up before the sun is getting to the end of the day with a list of stuff I didn’t get done).

Control?

I said it in my first article – once we walk out the door we lose control of what we do.  So, what are the most common things we miss or sacrifice because we fail to plan ahead:

  • Lunch – either we skip it or eat a crap.  In my younger days, I ate many a vending machine lunches or ate a Pop-Tart because that was all I had access to at the time.
  • Workout -either we don’t have time, or we forgot our workout clothes in the melee of getting out the door on time, or we don’t know what to do (next weeks article teaser maybe??)
  • What we enjoy – Reading, playing music, pottery, whatever our “thing” is we always neglect it because we run out of time.  Then we feel guilty.

I stage the little things that don’t really matter at night so that I the morning I can just go through my routine:  4:50 am, Get up.  Walk to the kitchen (eye still closed).  Start the coffee.  Walk to the bathroom (I hate getting up early and once I read about a way to make that easier – drink something right before bed.  It DOES work.  BUT, don’t drink too much or you will be up before the alarm.  Trial and error.)  Walk to the kitchen table.  Open/startup the laptop.  Walk to the back door to meet the dog (who has a similar routine).  Let him outside.  Wait while staring blankly at the neighbor’s house – they aren’t up yet so it’s not creepy.  Let the dog back in.  Walk back to the kitchen.  Pour the coffee into the cup you set out the night before :).  Walk back to the computer.   Sit down.  Drink.  5:00 am.  Zero thought goes into that.

After I’ve preloaded the coffee, then either I write 1000 words and go train, or I write until  5:45 and then go train.  Either way, I make time train every morning until around 6:30.  If I don’t have a planned workout to do, I have 5 preplanned ones I can fall back to.  I do what is written down, 5:45 am is not the time to be creative – it’s time to move and get things done.  My creative workouts come later in the day (unless they get stolen by other things).  At around 6:35 my son wakes up.  Breakfast, getting him dressed, getting his teeth brushed and his hair combed then takes about the next 45-50 minutes.  While he is eating I quickly shower and then put on my pre-staged clothes from the night before.  When it’s time to leave, after the rush to make sure he has his bag ready and everything he needs, as we walk out the door I grab my 2 pre-staged bags and then tell the dog bye.

Pre-Packed Datsusara Bags Ready to Grab-N-Go. And, yes that is an Avengers Lunch Box. Don’t judge.

You might wonder why my son’s bag isn’t pre-staged?  Simple. He is only 50% mine.  His mother doesn’t have my same “routine” tendency as I do.  That’s fine, we all have the right to an opinion.  Even with this, we still have the time to get all of his stuff ready in plenty of time.

Action Plan or Complaints?

What are your top 3 priorities outside of your work/family responsibilities?  What are your “you” priorities?  How do you ensure you get to take part in those every day?  What do you do to protect these?

My routine accomplishes several things:  First, it ensures that no matter what, every day I get 30-45 minutes of training.  Second, it ensures that everyday I write at least 1000 words.  (I do adjust this at times and use the morning as a time to physically read things I enjoy reading – not stuff I need to read.)  Third,  it limits how much I have to stop and think about trivial stuff in the morning. I only have so much energy and brain power to get through my day – I can’t afford to expend either on little things that can only slow me down.

None of the stuff I pre-stage takes a lot of time to do on their, but In the morning any extra time I have to spend looking for the loaf of bread of realizing we didn’t have coffee filters robs from the time I have.  Seriously, when you are out of coffee filters at 7:00 am and have to leave by 7:45 am what are your options? No coffee – bad option.  Stop and buy coffee?  What will you have to push back or cut out to make the time for that?  There have been a few times where I’ve made a late night run to Wal-Mart to get coffee filters.  All of those little things add to the cumulative stress of the day.  In our house, in the morning before school/work, more stress is not needed.  It also makes sure that no matter how my day goes, if there is nothing better available or there is not the time to do something else – I have that stupid sandwich for lunch.  Most days, I eat that stupid sandwich while doing something else because my lunch hour got confiscated for something else.  In all defense, if things go well part of what robs my lunch hour is another training session.  However, it’s not uncommon for that time to be robbed by a meeting or some other work-related task that needs to be done.  The last time I sat down to each lunch, and only eat lunch was Tuesday, February 27. It was the first – and so, far only – work Taco Tuesday.

Now What?  Act!

Find the mundane things that rob your time – then pre-stage them as best you can to remove the thinking and the lost time.  Meal prep, the next day’s clothes, your bag of things for work, your sons’ backpack; whatever you can find to get a few extra minutes each day.  In the first article I wrote, I asked you to make a list of 5 hobbies or things that you enjoyed doing.  Now it’s time to act on that.  The difference between making a goal and completing a goal is action.  It’s time to ACT on that list.  Find time each day to do one thing on that list.  For me, its in the early morning.   Here is another fact about me – I HATE mornings.  Ask my Dad – getting me up while I was in school was a nightmare, and it didn’t end when I became a grown up.  Heck, that didn’t end until just a few years ago.  But, I hate laying down at night wishing I had gotten more things done.  I get up, I do my things, then I do the other things.  I protect and guard that time, but you can make your time your time.

We make time for things that are a priority

IF you get to the end of the day and you realize you didn’t have time to do the things you enjoy for you, well, it’s time to realize THAT is your fault.  You didn’t MAKE time.  It’s #PriorityU month – make the time or stop complaining about not having the time.  “I don’t have time” is the grown up equivalent of “The dog ate my homework”.

Make yourself accountable.  Tell people.  Post your morning workout pics on Instagram.   Write a blog telling people about your routine.  Sign up for an event (the CrossFit Murph Workout is coming in May, a 5k run, a marathon, a 1000 swing workout challenge, a kettlebell certification course, heck, anything) with a date and a financial/sweat equity investment.

In conclusion.

You can only control what you can control.  Often, those little mundane daily tasks each erode just a little of your time and energy.  Take the power away from those mind-numbing tasks that you control – don’t let them control you.  Remember, each day, you have to take time each day to take care of you so that you can take care of everyone else that depends on you.  As long as you are an Athletic Trainer, people will depend on you – your athletes, your family, your coaches, your administrators, your employer.  We know this – it’s not a surprise.  So, we can be better prepared for this by taking the time to protect our time so that we can better serve others.

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