Outdoor Diary: What to Do When You’re Too Busy to Go Outside

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Humans Outside in palmer

It happens: sometimes life is just busy. So how do you make time to go outside when you’re busy? How do you keep it a priority? How do you fit it in?

In this Outdoor Diary episode Amy talks about how she fits her outdoor time into every day no matter what, and gives you a few tips for how you can do so, too.

Some of the good stuff:

[:47] Why it’s hard to get outside
[1:45] Tips for making it happen
[1:47] Write it down
[2:37] Be specific
[4:03] Remember your why

Connect with this episode:

It sounds crazy even saying it, but we all know it’s real life: I’ve felt too busy to go outside. The reasons are simple and plentiful. My family’s schedule is crazy. I have to cook dinner. I’ve been training for some running and the running paths are sheer ice, so I’ve been on the treadmill. Work is nuts. I picked up an exciting freelance assignment that’s taking all of my time.

That’s just a few of the many, many reasons I could give you. But the truth is that even as the weather has gotten significantly nicer here in Alaska over the last several weeks, I have gotten busier with my inside life and have had a harder time than normal getting outside.

And that’s why making sure I make time to get outside has become so important. It’s not just about wanting to get outside every day. It’s about making sure it’s a part of my routine, a part of my day. Busy happens, but getting outside daily is about making time for my priorities — the things that improve my life and make the rest of my day better and more productive.

Here are a few ways I’ve personally made time to get outside when things get busy.

First, i write it down. I keep a daily to do list because otherwise Ill forget 1,000 things. And every day, I write down getting outside on that list. After more than 1,600 days in a row getting outside, it often does fit naturally into my day. But during these super busy times, writing it down is still really important. It eliminates the possibility that I won’t have spent at least a moment considering when it would best fit into my day. That’s especially important in the winter or when the sun sets early because I do try to get outside in the daylight. In case you’re wondering, I don’t keep my daily list in order of what I’m doing, just in order of what pops into my brain. I dont organize it into priority or anything else. And it’s not digital. There’s something about physically writing it down that makes me remember that I have to do it.

Next, I make a specific plan. I dont always write down that plan, but I do always give a little thought to what I want to do as Im making that list. If it’s something that takes a little driving or has to be done at a specific time so I can make sure it happens, I write that down, too.

That’s because while being busy IS going to keep me from spending an hour cross country skiing every day – a trip that takes about 30 minutes of driving on top of the time on skis – it doesn’t mean that I have to simply go for a walk around the block every day instead, although that’s just fine outdoor time. When i take a moment out of my busy to think through what I can make time for and then decide when Im going to do it, I make sure that my outdoor time takes advantage of good weather or includes some variety that I otherwise wouldnt give brain power to plan.

Here’s an example. During my busy week I needed to run an errand in our town at a specific time after school so I could pick something up. I had spent the whole day crunching on a few projects and got my workout in on the treadmill. I could’ve taken the dogs out for a 20 minutes walk, and that would’ve been fine. But it had been awhile since I’d gone for a walk in our small town. Since we were going to be down there anyway, I made sure we headed out 30 minutes before my appointment and we strolled around the streets, looking at the mountains, enjoying the sunshine and small town atmosphere and letting my son play for a few minutes. It was some really nice, intentional variety for the day.

Finally, I remember that getting outside is one of the most important things I do every day. That’s not just because I don’t want to break my outdoor streak. Theres a whole discussion to have around that — the reasons why getting outside is worth fitting into my routine from a daily benefit perspective, and we’ll talk about the some time. But for now, Ill just say that I know taking this time for moving meditation, if you will, and intentionality helps me keep my focus the rest of the day. All work and no play makes for dull humans, as the saying sort of goes. To stay creative in my job, have good ideas and have the emotional and mental space to take care of my family, I need to take a mental break. And nature for even those 20 minutes provides it perfectly.

OK, so those are the ways I make sure I have time to get outside during my own busy days. What you’re hearing is my version of intentionality. At its core, the idea is to make sure getting outside is a beneficial part of your day, not an extra stressor or just another thing you have to get done. Being intentional helps me do that, and I hope my tips can help you, too.

If you want to see some photos of my recent outdoor time, including that walk around cute little Palmer I did before our appointment, you can check out my Facebook and Instagram at Humans Outside where I post a photo every single day just like I have been for over 1,600 days in a row. I want to see your outdoor time, too, so tag it on Facebook and Instagram with #humansoutside365.

Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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