"Okay, time to wrap up work on your blog and head out for a walk/run," I said to myself. "But I don't want to go," I responded. "But you'll feel better if you do. You're trying to build the habit!"
Then my internal dialogue was interrupted by another voice - my son's - saying, "Good morning, Mom! I got up early. Let's have breakfast together!"
Now I had a choice. I could have breakfast with Evan or I could go for a walk/run with the 5K Runner app. There were clear pros to each option, and equally clear cons. Did it mean I was a bad mom if I chose exercise over an early-morning breakfast date? (Of course not, but I still wasn't prepared for the guilt.) Would I lose momentum if I skipped the exercise? (Quite possibly, as it was only day 2!!)
But did it have to be an "either/or" choice? Could I turn it into an "and?"
"Hey, Evan, I have to work out first. Want to come walk and run with me?"
He agreed, and that's what we did. And I felt pretty great. Not just because I didn't give into my temptation to say, "I couldn't possibly exercise - Evan needed me!" But also because I didn't tell him no, but instead gave him a choice. I didn't walk or run as fast as I would have without him, but my essential goal of getting my body moving was still being met. And both the walking and the running parts were way more fun with a companion. Our conversation topics varied widely, and I don't remember what they were, but I do remember the feeling of satisfaction I got when he reached out to grab my hand on one of the walking stretches of our route.
Ah... the satisfaction of checking two boxes (a much nicer expression than "Kill two birds," don't you think?). I had turned it from "exercise or quality time" into "exercise and quality time."
I use the strategy of checking two boxes quite often, but not in a way that contradicts my advice to do one thing at a time. Here are some other ways I check two boxes:
Shopping + Music: My husband has taken over the grocery shopping (alleluia!) but back when I was in charge, I paired this odious task with a great playlist on my iPod. Bopping along in my own little world thanks to the miracle of earbuds made the task much less dreadful.
Commute + Podcasts: The drive to work is made so much more pleasant by having upbeat content to listen to. I used to listen to audio books, which was equally fun (but more expensive). And I know many people who pair driving with praying.
Connection + Practice: I have monthly calls scheduled with a dear friend. Last week I asked if we could use some of the time for me to walk through a speech I was working on. Considering we first met through work and our friendship grew in part by helping each other with presentations, it was really quite fun. (I realize this doesn't sound fun for a lot of people; that's why we call ourselves kindred dorks.)
Playing + Organizing: I remember a time when my kids were little and we played hide and seek. While they ran from place to place finding the perfect hiding spot, I used the time to clean out and reorganize the kitchen set.
Meeting + Walking: Last week I watched a great TED Talk on having walking meetings. My boss and I have done that, and not only does it check two boxes, it also changes our perspective. Another friend does this with conference calls; she takes walks during some of them where she doesn't have to do a lot of the talking.
Take a look at your to-do list and ongoing priorities. Can you find more opportunities to check two boxes?