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Future triathlete: It's time to schedule everything
Jeff says his busy and disorganized schedule was his biggest obstacle to fitting fitness into his schedule (left). His first order of business in the Fit Nation Challenge was to spend time scheduling everything in his online calendar (right).
February 1st, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Future triathlete: It's time to schedule everything

Editor's Note: Jeff Dauler is one of 7 people selected to train for and compete in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge.  Each participant gets all of the training and gear necessary to compete in the race, and they'll finish their journey in September at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.  A very busy guy, Jeff is the co-host and executive producer of The Bert Show, a nationally-syndicated radio program. He has realized that time management is going to be his biggest hurdle.

Here was my Facebook status update: "Know what the hardest part of the triathlon training has been so far? Time management."

Here's an email from Matt, one of the Fit Nation producers, that I received exactly 8 minutes later: "I just saw your post on Facebook about time management. Not to add to your list, but think you could write a blog for us about that by next Monday? 300-500 words?"

And that's how it happens. Plans destroyed by something I wasn't planning on. A blog request from my Fit Nation producers. A lunch invite with a business associate. Drinks with a friend. Traffic. Weather.

In my head, I have time for it all, and more. But I'm always short on time and abundant with to-do list items. And I only have one job and no kids. How do people working multiple jobs, or juggling work and school do it? How about parents? How about single parents? How about single parents with multiple jobs? They are working with the same 24 hours I am ... and they're getting it all in.

I want to know the secret.

And, thanks to my awesome Facebook family, and Dr. Gupta, I got some great ideas.

1. Schedule EVERYTHING. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. If you are anything like me, you've got a couple of lists here and there, plus one in your head. You know what you have to do, and when it's due. But because of your system (or non-system) of managing your to-dos, you aren't prioritizing and you aren't being realistic with your time.

Along those lines, start thinking of everything as an appointment, with a realistic length of time for that appointment. Need to call your chatty parents? That might be a one-hour appointment. Need to run five "quick" errands? That might be 90 minutes with traffic and the pharmacist who remembers you calling it in but just can't find the order. Once you start scheduling everything, it'll be easy to implement number two ...

2. Look at the big picture. Not just what you have to do today, but look at the week/month/next six months. If you see the next two weeks are filled with "appointments" then you can start planning accordingly. If you see this week is pretty light but the rest of the month is packed, you can use the free time to hit the mall, movies, or manicurist.

Looking at the big picture allows you to realistically assess the time in your life, which you need to do in order to make number three easy ...

3. Say "no." Don't be afraid of that word. Using it doesn't make you unkind, ungrateful or rude. It actually makes you polite, because when you implement the "no" you are prioritizing the valuable things in your world and moving the fluff stuff to the side.

You have a lunch invite from a co-worker whose sister is in town and they want to go to the great Mexican place you like? That's great... unless you look at your big picture calendar and see that your week is slammed and you need the lunch hour to run those errands (including the visit to the pharmacist who always loses your stuff.)

Can you move those errands? Then enjoy your cheese dip. No? Enjoy your protein bar in the car as you handle your priorities. Besides, you don't even really know that co-worker or care about her sister.

4. Commit 110%. Dr. Gupta said something during one of his appearances on my radio show. We asked him how he handles being a Dad, a husband, a TV personality, a neurosurgeon, author, speaker, and have a social life. (Believe it or not, I have seen him at concerts, fundraisers, and dinners around town.)

His answer: When he's in something, he's in it 110%. He commits himself to maximizing that time, whether it's personal or professional, and not multitasking. That's easy for him, because he knows his schedule allows for time to address everything ... and he also knows that once something is on his schedule, it's a priority. It deserves his complete and undivided attention.

Even us non-globetrotting neurosurgeons can follow this rule; we SHOULD follow this rule.

I'm getting a system in place, and so far, it's working great. I've only been in it a couple of weeks, but I see results. When I'm one-on-one with someone, I'm more focused on that experience. When I get an invite or offer, I'm able to quickly see if my involvement is realistic or will totally throw me off.

I've eliminated emergency errands because I'm looking ahead and consolidating tasks. If I can stick with this ... and I think I can ... it'll only be a matter of time before I, too, am a book-writing brain surgeon who is on TV.

Stand aside, Gupta.

Learn how Jeff has scheduled everything by visiting his blog. You can follow The Fit Nation Challenge on Facebook and Twitter, or right here on The Chart.


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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. John

    My wife and I have been doing Triathlon for two season and starting our third now. My wife works three (yes three) jobs and we still find time to get in our training. Last year we even took it to a higher level and completed an Ironman. This season we have seven events on the schedule. There is time to get everything done and it is about commitment and making the training a priority. Feet on the floor at 5am for a morning workout is fairly normal. There are things we have to say no to on a regular basis but in the end the accomplishment makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy your journey to your first triathlon and I can promise you that you will be hooked from then on.

    February 1, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. rh

    Do you put in a 5-minute or 2-hour slot for s3x?

    February 1, 2012 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rick Morris

    Hey Jeff, I thought we had 25 hours a day. This is a leap year, and although I was born on that last day in Feb, I still can't figure out if we have 364 or 365 days in a regular year, and/or 365/366 in a leap year. Oh, I'll have to get back with you... gotta go eat lunch, walk the dog, check the mail, do a bank deposit, pack bags for Atlanta, shop for "casual wear", fill the car with gas, eat lunch – wait, I already said that... pick up the kids at school, call a couple clients... well, you get the picture! See you Thursday.

    February 1, 2012 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Staceyann Dolenti

    Zeke ~ Focus on your goal and the process will seem less like a chore🙂

    Staceyann Dolenti

    February 1, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sleepy Head

    It always seems to me like the triathalon takes 3 perfectly fun activities and turns it into some type of renunciant religion. If you are eating a protein bar in a car because you want to be a triathlete, you have made a wrong turn in life somewhere. You eat the protein bar in the car to make your sales quota and you go run later to celebrate.

    Ride your bike to the pool or the lake, swim a little, run a little, find something to climb. It is a lot of fun without a training plan or a $400 tri suit.

    At least that is my take on it.

    February 1, 2012 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. My2cents

    I know some people are ambitious, but another way to look at all this, is why? What's the point? An overscheduled life is misery and people get addicted to it. Racing through life to get things done and not enjoying it is not a great way to live. What about stopping and talking to someone in a store or spending that extra time with family? Anyway, it's your life, good luck with the race.

    February 1, 2012 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. jojo61397

    I'm a marathoner, and I do the same thing. I have a hard time remembering to do things, so my days are scheduled like this so I don't forget anything.

    February 1, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Terilyn

    I'm a student and I know exactly where I'm going to be everyday and I know what im going to be during. Time management is the only way to get though life.

    February 1, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alexandra

      I think it was really hlupfel and made me want to change the world It's very nice and touching to watch those videos, and it was such a luck for us to see him visit our school!! He was really the hero for the children

      April 14, 2012 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
  9. Terilyn

    *doing

    February 1, 2012 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Amanda

    GREAT GREAT JOB & CONGRATULATIONS ON TRAINING YOURSELF INTO A BETTER YOU : ) You inspire me.

    February 1, 2012 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Cindy

    Love your posts! Keep up the good work. It's fun watching you transform personally and physically before our eyes.

    February 1, 2012 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. David

    Great article, many thanks.

    I personally use Ordinem Deed for as my task manager. Very helpful tool in my professional life.

    February 6, 2012 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Glenn

    Thanks Jeff

    February 8, 2012 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Christina

    What online calender do you use? As a new nurse, wife, and mother to a 2 yr old and 6 month old I'm looking to find a way to schedule time to breath right now and then maybe attempt something big in 2013.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.