Not long after the launch of this site I published an article titled, “How to Design an Exercise Schedule You Can Actually Stick With.”
It was based on the method I was using at the time and seeing success with. But I’ve grown in experience — both personal and professional — and would like to update that with a new, simpler, and more effective (I believe) method.
The problem with the first method I outlined is that it still puts specific things on specific days (e.g. walk on Mondays or lift weights on Thursdays). Any plan that does that has an inherent failure point. To overcome that, I simply installed more flexibility by using option days and makeup days.
But I’ve found a better way that completely ditches the scheduling model altogether. And I think that’s a big key to success. Schedules are simply too rigid, even when you attempt to make them more flexible.
Just as I prefer an intuitive approach to eating, I prefer an intuitive approach to exercise as well. I like to wake up and decide what I feel like doing that day. But I also want to make sure that I’m not leaving anything out or neglecting any important areas.
In order to have maximum flexibility and not leave anything out, I turned to technology for help. More specifically, I turned to a habits app for my iPhone. It’s basically an app that lets you list important things and how often you want to do them. Then you mark when you’ve done them and it tells you what’s being neglected so you can shift focus if necessary.
It’s all color coded and swipe oriented. It takes about 5 minutes to setup and 5 seconds per day to manage.
The app is called “Keep it Green” — with the goal being to keep “tasks” green (meaning you did them recently).
I told the app that I wanted to walk at least three times per week, sprint one day per week, lift weights twice per week, completely unplug from technology one day per month, email my VIP list once a week, cook dinner at home at least twice a week (I personally hate cooking so this is something new I wanted to get myself doing and take some of the weight off my wife), etc.
Notice that there’s no specific days involved. I’m not trying to pretend that I can say “X will get done on Monday and Y will get done on Tuesday.” Those plans always go to shit. Instead, it’s about how many times per week or month you want to do something and then the app tells you if you’re staying on track and what to focus on if you’re not.
So simple and so effective. There’s also a little alarm that goes off at a specific time each day (if you want) that prompts you to check your list and decide what you want to do (or to do nothing if that’s what you feel like).
It also has additional details for tracking embedded in each specific task, so you can go back and see how you’re doing on a specific task over time.
As you can see, I’m using it for more than my workout schedule. Any action that’s repetitive that’s important to you that you want to keep track of you can put in the list. It’s especially effective for new actions that you’re trying to create a habit out of (duh, it’s a habit app).
I made sure to test this method over the course of a few months before talking about it because I wanted to make sure that it’s truly sustainable.
I can confidently say that it hasn’t just been easy to stick to, it’s been more fun. It’s so satisfying to swipe a task and mark it as done and to “keep it green.” There’s definitely positive psychology embedded in this strategy.
And it’s very helpful to see which tasks I’ve been neglecting so I can do those immediately or double up a day to get caught up (for instance, I can walk and lift weights in the same day if I’ve neglected to do one or the other lately).
For $1.99, I don’t know of a simpler or more effective way to stay on track with your goals.
Founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. Kevin helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.