Put Yourself in Timeout: Top Ways to Find Time For Yourself + Fitness

Feeling busy? Truth bomb + tough love: We’re ALL busy. It’s kind of a fact of life these days, right? Between kids, jobs, houses, bills, kid activities, church, community activities…the list could go on and on, and often that’s just the tip of this busy iceberg.

With all the busyness that life often brings, it can be hard to find (or make time) for the things that help make us healthier, happier, and thriving. AKA finding time to exercise.

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But, just because we’re all busy, and just because some days can feel like a whirlwind of activity where the only thing we want to do once we reach the end of it is SIT DOWN, our workouts don’t have to become nonexistent. There is a way to have them co-exist with alllll the other things in our often chaotic lives. And since we get such great physical and mental returns on any time invested in exercising, it’s so dang important that we make it a priority even among all the other priorities on our never-ending to-do list!

How do you exercise when you have no time? By taking a timeout.

Remember as a kid when you’d get in trouble for something and your parents would send you to another room for a timeout? It was a way to remove you from a stressful situation so you could get past the emotions, calm down, and return as a much more centered version of yourself. What if, as adults, we learned from those timeouts, removed our initial negative connotation of them, and used them as a positive reinforcement and a tactic to help us remember to put ourselves first?

I call this the Ten Minute Timeout: No matter how busy, crazy, or overwhelming your day may feel, you can find ten minutes for yourself. Walk away from the pile of laundry, the to-do list, the work emails—just for ten minutes—and use those minutes as a way of doing something positive. This could be doing a quick ten minute workout, journaling or meditating for ten minutes, sitting outside in the sunshine, or dancing off the stress in the middle of your kitchen (ignoring those dishes piling up, while you’re at it). It can honestly be whatever you want. It’s something you need to do for yourself.

Why 10 minutes? Ten minutes is often easier to commit to than 60. And they’re a great way to recharge and come back to a situation with brighter eyes, a clearer vision, and a fuller heart.

Top tips to exercise or take a ten minute timeout for yourself:

  • Prepare the night before. Set out your clothes, shoes, water bottle, or anything else you’ll need. If you are planning on swinging by the gym, make sure there’s gas in your car. There’s no worse decision as an adult than deciding you’ll “fill up tomorrow.” Amiright?! Preparation alleviates a lot of potential reasons for not working out.
  • Wear your workout clothes, except to work, of course, unless that’s allowed! I put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning because it not only reminds me to exercise, but on those crazy busy days, I’m ready to take advantage of every free minute to do a little something. (Hello, Ten Minute Timeout!)
  • Get creative. Even a few minutes here and there throughout the day can add up to some great workout time: Run up and down the stairs, do walking lunges, walk instead of drive, throw in a few push ups or burpees, do squats while you’re on the phone, do crunches while you tickle your baby’s toes…get creative!
  • Try Something New. Don’t get stuck in a rut by doing the same thing over and over again. It’s easy to skip something when we feel bored with it, right? Variety results in not only stronger muscles (and more calories burned), but a more enjoyable workout too!
  • Plan. Have a plan A. And a plan B. And some days you might even need a plan Z. Make a list of workouts so when you’re in a time crunch, you don’t have to think about what to do.
  • Be flexible. Constant change is the name of the game at our house. In fact, often the only constant in our life is change! Do the best you can, when you can, and give yourself a pat on the back for doing so. Even a “bad” workout is better than no workout.
  • Reward yourself. Hey, it works for kids, so why not for us too? Instead of a chore chart, make an exercise chart. You can even use some cute stickers. And make the reward so fabulous you’ll want to exercise regularly to earn it!
  • Trade with a partner or friend. Not only will you get your workout in, but you’ll be helping someone else do the same.
  • Include the kids. Jump rope, play ball, run around the block, play hopscotch, teach them your favorite exercises, and have them do the same for you. For infants and toddlers, put them in the stroller and let them become part of your workout or even extra weight to lift! Be an example of the importance of exercise.

When you make the time to exercise regularly, I promise you’ll be happier, more confident, and more productive in all the areas of your life. Ready to commit to your first Ten Minute Timeout? Do it and then comment below and let me know how it went!


Related reading:

One-Minute Brownie || Chocolate to Slim Your Waistline!
My 10-Minute Anywhere Workout || Bodyweight Moves for Beginners and Advanced
10 Minute Upper Body Workout
A Lotta Tabata || 4-Minute Total Body Toning Workouts
The Procrastinator’s Guide to Transforming Your Time Management Skills

96 Responses

  1. Hello,

    I’m a 19 year old diabetic with high cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides and my doctor says I’m on my way towards a heart attack – at my age! I’m tired of getting winded up the stairs and not being able to window shop with my friends. I’m like every human being. I love food – pizza, pasta, sweets. I need help! I can’t get my motivation on track. please.. someone help..

    1. Motivation will always fade. You have to make the decision that you want to live, and that you want to have a healthy life that isn’t restricted because of your health. Your not a lone and people just push themselves to do eat well and workout even though they don’t want to. I would suggest reading Atomic Habits. You can do it!

  2. This really helps, but my question is.. For those people who are REALLY overweight and their children are playing with their fat, until we lose a little bit of weight, it’s really hard to get the kids involved with it, or do things at random times because of the fear of people judging or getting too red faced and then walk into work or something along those lines. I know I’m probly sounding like I’m making excuses, but I’m wondering for the people who are super busy with everday life, and who are really big, what are some things we can do to help? Thank you!

    1. Any small changes will help! We all feel awkward and like people are judging but you have to ignore it and do what’s best for you. Small things like: getting up every hour and walking for 5 mins, climbing a few flights of stairs, parking further from the door, going on a morning or nightly walk daily, doing a 10 min exercise routine at home each day, it all adds up and you can start making progress. Nutrition makes a huge difference with weight also so I would start small at increasing activity and focus on nutrition when starting out. You got it!

  3. Any suggestions for exercises to burn calories for someone recovering from spinal fusion surgery? No benign, twisting or lifting permitted. Walking is okay but can only pull off once around the block.

  4. Hi Heidi,
    These are great tips thanks! I find that I struggle to get up out of bed for a morning run but once I’m up and pounding the pavement, I have no regrets, in fact I feel better all day! Just that is motivation enough to carry on 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to post your ideas! Take care, Laura

  5. Such great tips. You, Heidi, and Chris are such great examples for everyone out there trying to better themselves. Thank you for being you!!


  6. Great post Heidi! I agree we have to make fitness a priority so I love your ideas to sneak it in. Even at the end of a day when I haven’t fit anything in, some days I just do something – anything, even if it’s only 15 mins. Going to bed, I feel so good about myself!

  7. Love your inspiration! As a mom(4, 2, 7mon, & newly pregnant) it can be so easy to put everyone and everything before exercise. Making a commitment to do my part and put in at least 5mins everyday! Thanks pretty mama

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