I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to be more productive. The very thought exhausts me.

The more I think about being more productive, the more I procrastinate. Sort of defeats the purpose.

And, like a typical introvert, I need plenty of time to ruminate worry obsess think about it.

It’s now January 11 and I’ve been working on this little mindset project since last month.

Because here’s the thing: I’m excellent at making lists and planning to make plans.

I am currently surrounded by two “goal” notebooks, sheets I printed out from an online planner (cost: $12) and apps like WorkFlowy and Evernote, plus Post-it notes and miscellaneous pieces of paper tucked inside pockets of my handbag that I forget exist.

I use all of them with the hopes they will one day all find each other like long-lost relatives separated at birth.

Or I’ll actually get my act together and use just one.

Let’s face it. My chances are better with the reunion scenario.

But my intentions are good: Get more done in less time.

And if you ask people who are sporadic with their workouts or can’t get off the couch, they’ll tell you why: “I don’t have time!”

NOTE: TOUGH LOVE ALERT!!  Not buyin’ it.

We make time for what’s important to us. Period. 

So… you can wait for the universe/your higher self/Alexa to give you a serious reason to make time to take care of yourself (one you don’t want, for sure) or you can be proactive and do it on your own.

I’ll assume the latter.

I’ll also assume you’d rather not spend all day at the gym or on a treadmill.

Good news! Short and sweet workouts can be just as effective as longer workouts. I say “can be” because it depends on how you spend your time.

If you’re sipping coffee and reading a book while pedaling at 1 mph on the recumbent bike (which I’ve seen this many times), don’t expect to burn many calories or get much benefit out of your 20 minute soiree down Easy Street.

However…

If you push it by using one of the tips below, you can get a total body workout worthy of burning off breakfast or lunch.

1. Add intervals

I’ve talked about intervals many times in the past, and they remain the best way to get the most bang for your fitness buck. By alternating high(er) intensity increments with baseline effort you increase calories burned for hours after your workout ends.

Here’s a simple example to try with your favorite cardio:

Warm up with cardio of your choice   5 to 10 minutes 4 intensity (on a scale of 1 to 10)
Increase pace, go “all out”     30 to 60 seconds 7 or 8
Return to a moderate speed  30 to 60 seconds   5                                                                  


Repeat this sequence, alternating the length of time to suit your fitness level; increase the length of time of the all-out bouts and decrease the “rest” intervals as you become more fit. If you’re not recovering enough and/or just starting out, increase the low intensity intervals and shorten the higher intensity ones.

 

2. Do a set of abs between each set

Instead of doing crunches or planks at the end of your workout, alternate them with other exercises when you’re waiting the 60 to 90 seconds between strength training exercises. (Note: If you’re able to immediately hop from one exercise to the next, you need to increase the resistance — those last three reps should be a challenge!)

Examples:

push-ups/crunch/push-ups/crunch  

squats/plank/squats/plank

Dumbbell rows/reverse crunch/DB rows/reverse crunch

You get the idea. Before you know it, you’re D-O-N-E.

 

3. Alternate cardio with weights  

Another variety of interval training, instead of sticking with cardio, alternate cardio and resistance training. This keeps your heart rate up and combines the two types of workouts in one session. (Note: This works best at home, since jumping on and off a cardio machine while you do your routine is frowned upon, especially when others are waiting to do their cardio workout.)

This works particularly well if you’re timing your strength training exercises (versus counting reps) …

Example:

Cardio: 5 minutes of your choice to warm up

Squats or modified squats: 60 seconds

Push-ups, chest flies or other upper body exercise: 30 seconds

Ab exercise: 30 seconds

Cardio of your choice: 1 to 2 minutes ALL OUT

Repeat.

What about YOU? How much time does your usual workout take? Do you have tricks to get done faster? Leave a comment down below! 

Other posts you may enjoy:

How to motivate yourself to exercise when you hate it

3 Keys to reach your fitness goals faster

How to create a minimalist workout plan

Your Ageless Body Coach,