Woman setting fitness tracker watch while sitting on a yoga mat with dumbbells

How To Make Time For Healthy Habits With Time Blocking

One of the main reasons that people have trouble starting or sticking to a new fitness, health, or nutrition goal is that they feel like there isn’t enough time in the day. 

The goal of this post is to help you figure out how to make time in your busy schedule for new healthy habits. We will discuss how to analyze how you are currently spending your time and use time blocking to identify potential chunks of time in your busy schedule that can be used to tackle your goals.

By the end of this post you will have set aside a dedicated block of time in your busy schedule to work towards your goal!

Making Time Vs. Finding Time

We live in a world where we are constantly busy. It can be hard to find time for anything new in our lives between work, sleep, family, and other obligations.

After all, we only get 24 hours in a day to accomplish everything we want and need to do. 

So how can you make time for exercise? How can you lose weight with a busy schedule? How can you find time to eat healthy?

The truth is, you’re never just going to “find” the time. Finding time implies that you’ll just stumble upon it by accident. But that’s really not how things work. 

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” ~Charles Brixton Click To Tweet

How To Make Time For Healthy Habits

Step 1: Figure Out How You Are Currently Spending Your Time

The first step to making time for something important, is to figure out how you are currently spending your time. 

If you aren’t aware of how you are spending your time it will be hard to figure out where you can squeeze anything else in. 

Time and money are similar in that if you don't pay close attention to how you spend them – they'll be gone in a flash without much to show for it. Click To Tweet

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

If you really want to know where all your time is going, I would recommend a week long “time audit”. I know, I know, the word audit can be scary – but trust me, a time audit is much less painful than an IRS audit!

To do a time audit, simply write down notes as you go through your day about how you spent your time. You can do this in a notebook, a planner, or even in Google calendars (which is my preference). 

I recommend tracking how you spend your time for a week, because certain days may be regularly different than others, for example weekdays versus weekends. Plus you may have some atypical days in there that aren’t a good representation of your normal day to do schedule.

When doing your time audit, be sure to account for time spent doing the following: working, commuting, attending/studying for school, sleeping, personal care, social activities, hobbies, family obligations, as well as any time you currently spend cooking, eating, working out, etc.

And definitely don’t forget to track your screen time (TV, video games, email, social media, texting, etc.).This is usually the time that gets away from us without us realizing it. 

If you really want to see how much time you’re losing to scrolling on your phone – try one of these apps. 

Check out the example below of a time audit using Google Calendar.

Example of how to do a time audit on google calendars to make time in your busy schedule for new healthy habits

Step 2: Decide What Is And Isn’t Worthy Of Your Time

When you’re done auditing how you’ve spent your time for the last week, sit down and take a good look at it. 

It’s time to do some reflecting as to what is and isn’t a good use of your limited time. This all comes down to priorities – what is most important to you. Note that what is considered a priority will be different from person to person. 

Take a few moments to jot down a list of your top 3-5 priorities in your life right now. 

Remember: 

“To change your life, you need to change your priorities.” ~Mark Twain Click To Tweet

How To Prioritize Your Busy Schedule To Make Time For Healthy Habits

The easiest way to prioritize your time so that you can see where you can make changes, is to color code it. 

Take your time audit and look at which blocks of time are dedicated to the priorities you listed in the last step as well as any things that you wouldn’t want to or couldn’t give up. These might be things like work, church, commuting time etc.  Mark these priorities in the color green.

Next, take a look at the time you spent doing things that weren’t absolute priorities, but that did add value or to your life. These could be things like hobbies, self care, spending time with friends etc. Make these time blocks yellow.

Finally, identify the time that is left over. This is likely time that you spent doing leisure activities or perhaps even killing time. For example, watching TV, or scrolling on your phone. Mark these blocks of time red.

Everything on your time audit should now be either red, yellow, or green as in the image below.

Example of how to prioritize your time by color-coding your time audit in google calendars.

Step 3: Use Time Blocking To Set Aside Time To Work Towards Your Goal

Time blocking is a popular time management technique where you set aside a specific chunk (aka block) of time in your day to work on an important priority.

Once you have color coded everything in step two, take a look at all of the red blocks. These are blocks of time that could easily be dedicated to building a new healthy habit or goal.

Examine the yellow blocks next. Is there anything there that you’d be willing to give up to make time for your new goal?

When you decide which blocks of time you are willing to use to work towards your goal, set a recurring appointment in your calendar and make a conscious effort not to schedule anything else during this time block.

This is your time to make your dreams come true. Be fierce when it comes to defending this time to work on your goal! 

Conclusion

Everyone is busy, and time is a precious commodity. You will never just find time to work on a new healthy habit – you have to make time.

How to make time for your new habit:

  1. Figure out how you are currently spending your time.
  2. Decide what is and isn’t worthy of your time.
  3. Use time blocking to set aside time to work towards your goal.

Congratulations!!! You have now MADE time to work on your goal.

But don’t stop there! If you’re ready to take the next steps, check out the following posts:

Or if you’re not feeling quite ready yet, check out this one:

You’ve got this! Making the time is half the battle. 

~ Clarissa

Share the knowledge!

Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a teacher, a coach, and an avid adventurer! Armed with a master's degree in Exercise and Wellness, she is on a mission to teach people how to build healthier habits that support the adventurous lifestyle of their dreams. There is nothing Clarissa is more passionate about than helping people get active and live their lives to the fullest!

34 Replies to “How To Make Time For Healthy Habits With Time Blocking

  1. It is so important that if we want to commit to a new hobby, we need to have the mindset of setting time aside. It’s so easy to say that we don’t have time to do something. We have time, but we tend to let different things become a priority. I know for me, it is just having to commit and planning properly. I love the idea of time blocking. This is how you actually making time! Setting it aside. Thanks for sharing these amazing tips!

    Nancy ✨ exquisitely.me

    1. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it Nancy? I love this exercise because it calls attention to how we are spending our time. I’ve learned that if you just ask people to ballpark guess how much time they spend doing certain things throughout a typical day – usually they aren’t even close to accurate! Myself included! I think it’s that funny time warp situation – if we’re at work/school etc. Time passes slowly. If we’re scrolling etc. the time dissappears in a flash!

  2. Oh, I love this approach. I’ve been meaning to do a time audit forever, but lockdown has thrown my schedule off for a complete whack. I mean, I have a schedule now, but this is so far from my reality under “normal” circumstances!

    I am glad you commented on my blog so I could find yours – I am really enjoying your content. 🙂

    1. Awww thanks Shirsha! I hear you on the schedule being so crazy. Lockdown has thrown pretty much everything for a loop hasn’t it? Routines, habits time use, social interactions etc. I had laid out my goals at the beginning of the year as usual, but had to shift everything! Adapt and overcome I suppose! 😁 Thanks so much for reading, I can’t wait to check out more of your writing!

  3. This is super helpful. During the lockdown I’ve gotten quite lazy, so I’m going to use your tips to get my life in order (sort of) again.

    Sending good vibes all the way from South Africa. Michelle (michellesclutterbox.com)

    1. I am so glad to hear you found this helpful Michelle! I think lockdown threw everyone’s routines and habits for a loop, so you’re not alone there. I hope these steps help get you back on track to where you want to be. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  4. I really want to start time blocking my days but (ironically) I haven’t found the time to set up a time blocking system that works for me. This is something that I’m going to try and prioritise because it’ll really help me to be productive but also include the habits that I’ve wanted to start for a while x

    Roni | myelevatedexistence.com

    1. That’s great Roni! You’re right, it can definitely take time to find a system that works. I hope this 3-step process will make it much easier for you to figure out how to squeeze in some time for your health goals! Best of luck and thanks so much for reading! ❤️

    1. Thank you Lisa! It sounds like your priority game is strong! 💪 And I can definitely relate. The more I move, the better I feel. When I’m not moving enough my body feels stiff and my muscles ache! No fun.

    1. Thanks so much Kayla, I’m glad you found it so relatable! You’re so right – it’s all about priorities! As they say, you always have time for the things in life that you put first. Thanks for reading!

  5. These are some helpful tips! I feel like my productivity have been going down because of quarantine, but lately, I’ve been trying to work on having a schedule and incorporating more healthy habits. I really like the idea of time blocking and the color code system! Great post! 🙂

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Time is a funny thing isn’t it? It often seems like the more time we have (like in lockdown) the less that we do with it. Something about a busy or at least more structured schedule seems to create some urgency to stay on track. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, and best of luck with your new schedule and habits! ❤️

  6. I couldn’t agree more about making time vs. having time. A colleague once said to me that I was lucky I had time to exercise because she didn’t. I don’t find it easy to exercise or to give time to it. But I prioritize and make time to do it. You definitely need the willpower to cut out something else to fit in a healthy habit. I find trying to do it alongside something else can be handy like walking to work or even getting off the bus/train one stop early or parking a bit further away just to get in a jog or walk. Or taking the stairs, phone calls whilst moving around etc. etc.

    1. Thanks for reading and adding your experiences to the conversation Emma! It is very interesting how people perceive the amount of time they have, but we all have the same 24 hours in the day. Whether or not we have time for something really just comes down to whether it is or isn’t a priority.

      I love your ideas of squeezing in extra exercise where you can – almost like multitasking. I’m also a big fan of mini-workouts throughout the day when you have a few extra minutes here and there.

  7. Wow this is awesome! I love the idea of auditing your time, although I’d also probably be a bit scared of the results! I also agree you really have to fiercely defend the time you work on your goals! I find that blogging does take a lot of my time but it’s also so worth it. Thanks for sharing! 😊

    1. Lucy, the time audit can be a bit scary, I agree! 😂 Especially when it comes to time spent on social media/phone. Although with being a blogger it’s kind of necessary!

      And yes, I’ve found that we have to be pretty stubborn when it comes to our blocked out time. It always seems as if there is some thing that’s trying to creep in and occupy that time. I think the time blocking really creates an awareness of that which makes it a little easier to catch and stop it when it does start to happen. Thank you for reading!

  8. It’s so true what you said about never stumbling across more time, we have to make it if we need it. I set aside specific slots in my days to do my runs, especially longer ones that really do need time scheduling and can’t be slotted in somewhere, otherwise I’d never ‘find the time’ x

    Sophie

    1. Yes those long distance runs are definitely not something you can just “squeeze in”. You’ve got to be really intentional about big tasks like that. Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences Sophie!

  9. Excellent post with excellent tips on time management. It’s really important to sit down and sort it out, because sometimes when we feel as those we a busy, it is with unnecessary things.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Fantastic point about being busy with unnecessary things Rebekah! Busy is NOT the same as productive. Upon first glance it might seem that way, but when we really dig down and examine our priorities and apply the color coding, we might find otherwise. Thank you so much for reading and adding to the conversation! ❤️

  10. This is such an in-depth way of looking at where all your time is going, I love it! I was on furlough from work earlier in the year and setting a schedule really helped my partner and I make the most of each day and share our space effectively. Thabks for sharing!

    1. You’re very welcome Helen! Yes, I agree this method is pretty in depth. It’s not always necessary to go this in depth unless you really can’t seem to “find the time” to fit a healthy habit (or anything else for that matter) that’s important to you into your schedule.

      I too have been laid of from work and agree that setting a regular schedule is super helpful! It’s so strange to have less demands on our time when we are used to so many! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

  11. This is another great read, Clarissa. Love the over-arching message of being more intentional with our time.
    What’s interesting is, I’m a big proponent of time-blocking – very effective – BUT I’ve never done the initial step: a time audit! I may go a bit rogue on the audit reco in the sense that 360 tracking feels too strict a method for my style (but I may be being stubborn here, lol)
    This value assignment exercise is brilliant and one that should be continuous… inspired to start that this week so thank you!

    1. You’re welcome Simone! I think the time audit is a great tool – but it’s not always necessary in every case. If you find yourself saying, “where did all my time go?” That’s really when it comes in most handy.

      And I agree – tracking can be tedious at times. You don’t have to track it down to every last minute. You could even just have a couple check in points throughout the day, like before work, after work, before bed.

      You can really adapt it to whatever works for you. After all, it’s not a very effective tool if it’s too tedious to stick to. ☺️ The real point is to just become more aware of how you’re spending your time.

  12. I love this! I was time blocking my day for some time and I’ve let it slide a bit but I think it’s really important. More often than not I go over time on something and don’t have the time to do others. For instance, I’m working full time, and then working on my blog in the evenings. I really want to get back to exercising but haven’t made the time yet. I do have a few days off next week though so I’m going to get a good plan into action. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Sounds like a plan Ellie! As you mention, I think figuring out how long something is actually going to take is the hardest part! It just takes practice I suppose. I always try and overestimate how long things will take, but sometimes still don’t get it quite right. Thanks so much for reading!

    1. Oooh yes, finishing at 10 PM can be tough! Working a shift like that would make being able to prioritize how you use your time especially important. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment Marissa! ❤️

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