Achieve More With Your Limited Time Using Smooth Transitions

We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.
-John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

If I could give you an extra hour every day, would you take it?  Of course you would.  One of the most common complaints people have today is their limited time.  With work, family, chores and other responsibilities, we often find ourselves with too much to do and not enough time to do it.

I can help.

On your mark, get set, go!

It was the spring of 2010 and my head was spinning.

My life is busy at the best of times with work, family and day-to-day responsibilities, but things were busier than usual.  Tracy and I had just set a wedding date less than four months away.  Being an event producer by profession, much of the planning fell to me.  Or, as Tracy may more accurately put it, my type A personality gladly heaped the work on to my plate.

But that’s not all….  Just two weeks prior to our wedding I was scheduled to race in one of the world’s most physically demanding sporting events, Ironman USA (swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles).  It was a race that would require me to train 20+ hours per week.

Life had suddenly gone from busy to downright crazy.

Falling behind

As Ironman approached I struggled to fit all of my training sessions into my schedule.  Week after week I was just too busy.  Time was running out and I worried that I wouldn’t be ready for race day.

Then, as I sat staring at my overwhelming training plan, it dawned on me.  I was in a race to get ready for race day, so why not apply race strategies to my life.

Smooth transitions

In the sport of triathlon you complete the swim first, then the bike and finally the run.  The time spent moving from one event to the next is called the transition.  Smooth transitions are key to having a good race.  Every second counts.  If you plan your transitions well you can move from one event to the next with relative ease and speed.  Fail to plan ahead and you’ll waste time fumbling around with equipment.  Many races have been won or lost in transition.

When you think of it, life is really just a series of events – breakfast, work, gym, family time, etc.  Now consider the time you spend transitioning from one life event to the next.  Just like triathlon, the time you spend in the transition of life can really add up if you don’t plan ahead.

Achieve more with your limited time

I reviewed my schedule to see where I could transition better in life.  Three times a week I spent ten minutes driving to and from my yoga classes.  That totaled one full hour in my car.  Surely I could use this transition time in a better way?

Running!  I started running to and from yoga and quickly realized that it took me the same amount of time as driving when I considered the time wasted in traffic and finding parking spots.  Suddenly all of those ten minutes transitions spent sitting in the car had become an additional hour of valuable training time every week.

I looked at my schedule to see where I could better use other transition times in my life.  I started to bike to and from social events, reviewed wedding budgets on the bus and paid bills on my phone as I walked between meetings.  The list went on and on and I became smarter with how I used my transition time.  Before long I felt less stressed and more in control.

Your perspective

It wasn’t rocket science.  I was using strategies that time management gurus have recommended for years.  Strategies I had read about time and time again.  But this was different.  Instead of reading a boring time management strategy from a book, I was approaching my challenges in a new way.  From a perspective I understood… triathlon.

A writer may look at his busy schedule and structure it as he does a story.  A chef may view her task list as ingredients and choose the perfect combination to create a great life recipe.  The solutions may be similar, but the perspective of each person is unique and can help us to better apply these strategies to our lives.

Take a look at life from your own perspective.  Draw on your experiences and find unique solutions to challenges.  Coaches, mentors and experts can be incredibly helpful resources, but often we are our own best teachers.

The finish line

All of those ten-minute runs added up.  On July 25, 2010 I finished my second Ironman USA race in 12 hours 22 minutes – 37 minutes faster than my previous time!  Two weeks later I married the woman of my dreams.  And I have to say that the transition into marriage has been a smooth one.

How do you use the transitions of your life?  What unique perspectives do you approach life challenges from?

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