I have competed in four Ironman’s, I run my own company, have climbed major mountains, I have three active kids, I surely have ADD, and I have a lot of fun. I am often asked how I can accomplish it all. Like with my fitness training, I believe in intervals. An interval day, interval week, interval year, interval lifestyle. This is the first in a series about these intervals. Let’s start with the interval day and week.
What is an interval?
An interval is a short sprint followed by rest. The key to an interval is being able to sprint with good form knowing and appreciating that a rest or reset will come. For me when I am training, I can improve my speed and form when I swim five two hundred yard sprints versus one thousand yard endurance workout. In each 200 yard set my form and speed is vastly better than when I swim 1000 yards all together. At the tail end of an endurance swim I feel my speed and form deteriorating and that’s exactly what happens in other places in my life. As we work day after day with an endless workload and with no pre planned rest, our minds and bodies tend to deteriorate in bad form. The same holds true in my yoga class. If the instructor leads us – in say – sun salutations, my mind wanders if she doesn’t tell me how many we are doing. If I know the count and when the reset is coming, I can focus on perfecting my efforts of each one. In a world where it is all about results, having a interval day and week planned helps me stay on track.
What does an interval day look like and how do I maximize it?
During each day (personal and professional days) I am highly scheduled. I work hour by hour on projects and activities and with people. I even set time aside to rest or do nothing. I keep myself on track by scheduling appointments with myself or others to accomplish what I deem to be the most important things to work on in that day. I call these “crucials”. I know what is crucial and have time to get these crucials done knowing that the interruptions and required rests or resets (many times my workouts are resets) will come. This is key to my energy and focus. My appointments are also scheduled in Outlook with what I need to know about that project (sprint) built into it. My recurring workouts and meetings are pre-programmed in advance in my Outlook calendar so as the days evolve I don’t forget to make these items happen and have the opportunity to move them around to make them all work. Personal appointments for my family like athletic events, homework support, etc. are also all on my calendar so my mind and presence is there. Cooperation with my family and work teams are critical. Every interval and interval type (sprints, rests, daily routines like email, and equally important is fun) is scheduled. I really do leverage Outlook to maximum performance. What makes this even more effective is that I share my calendar with those around me so they know when my sprints, rest, and not-yet-planned times are.
What is idle time and how do you best use it?
I will use my analogy regarding swimming intervals to illustrate. Some times you get to the pool and all the lanes are taken and you have to wait, or maybe you get stuck in traffic on the way there. These things happen and while you are idle you have to be prepared to use that time as effectively as you can. In my car I have swimming and running gear so I am always prepared for idle time. I have run and biked during my sons’ swim meets or in between lacrosse or field hockey games. The same holds true for work. I have required reading and writing with me at all times in case I am stuck or idle. So like a boy scout, be prepared so as not to waste any time.
I am committed to this lifestyle as life is short and I have big goals that I am trying to accomplish that inspire me not to waste a minute. By proving to myself that I can get a great deal done, my confidence in knowing that anything is possible with the right focus, the right planning, and the right commitment continues to rise. When I get off track I go back to my goals to remind myself why I am doing this, and my interval lifestyle scheduling for the how and I am back on track and happy. I hope this inspires you to reach higher and deliver better performance toward your big goals.