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How To Hack Your Day Like A Dad-Boss

March 14, 2022

man with beard
Rick Baraff
Adventure Athlete

I am by no means any sort of productivity genius. You can look at the many tabs open on my computer and the dust on my To Do list where the little lines for the check marks remain unchecked.

But, I’ve gotten pretty good at hacking my day to maximize a lot of the minutiae of moving through daily life. I like to run. I’ve been a competitive, long-distance runner for decades. But, now I have three-year-old twins (yeah, twins) and a lot of other stuff that doesn’t allow me to just lace up and get out there for any sort of extended period, let alone train with any regularity.

man balancing cooking

So what do I do? It all starts with coffee. How can you hack coffee? Well, beyond starting off your morning with a delicious, protein-packed, extended-release caffeine dose of Mdrive Start, I went through the trouble of getting a hand-cranked coffee grinder. Yes, old school. I now get a nice blood-pumping arm workout while the water boils by crushing my own beans by hand. Oftentimes, I’ll also throw in a few squats as I grind. All to the chagrin of my wife, whose own morning workout includes rolling her eyes at me to get her coffee ready pronto (coming, dear!). My kids come in to find me dipping, duck-walking, or shaking out the kinks while strangely whirling my arms around like a mad beekeeper as I crush several hundred coffee beans. Voila, by the time I’m sipping my joe, I’ve got the muscles primed for the task ahead: getting down on the floor to play with the kiddos.

While I won’t be making the Olympics anytime soon in the floor exercise category, I can often be found doing some sort of balance or strength work disguised as Lego-building. Yes, playing with your kids is usually exercise enough, but especially in the winter when we don’t go outside too much due to the cold, I try to get in a couple minutes of plyometric style stuff while fine-tuning my multicolored Lego towers.

Then – if it’s nice enough outside – instead of driving the kids to the park, I put them in a wagon or stroller and push/pull them. This makes working out somewhat fun. Extra bonus points for all the stops to pick up toys they’ve thrown overboard! Side note on playgrounds and public parks: They’re not just for kids. They’re great places to make up your own gym-styled or plyometric workouts without actually needing the time or inclination of going to the gym (the driving, the parking, someone using “your” machine, etc.).

If I need to go grocery shopping, I’ll often run — quite literally — to the store. Weird? If you haven’t gone to the supermarket straight from the gym, I’m sure you’ve seen people who have, right? Or the folks who line up at the smoothie/coffee shop with sweat marks on their clothes and wet hair? Shopping a little damp under the pits shouldn’t be too “out there.”

What about carrying groceries home? It’s just part of the workout! Okay, yes, I’m fortunate enough to live within walking distance of a supermarket (under a mile), so this particular example might not apply to you, but the idea is to think about how to incorporate new ways of doing things that can help keep you going. Maybe you have a bike you can outfit with a rack or panniers (bags that attach to your bike). Or if you have kids and a stroller or wagon, put the groceries in that. Make sure to keep the cookies out of reach, though.

walking with kids

Even if I can’t work out or the weather is too foul, I still try to get in some sort of movement (blood flow) while I’m working. Yes, I have the luxury of doing a lot of work from home so that’s nice on one hand, but distracting on the other. It’s nice because I put together my own work station that allows me a bunch of options. I found an adjustable table that has legs that can move up and down to alternate its height. I can stand up and work, or sit down. But I choose to have it always up at a spot where it’s comfortable to stand up and work on my computer, where I do almost everything I do. I use a bar stool to sit on if I want to be fully stationary, or I’ll balance on one of those large balance balls you see at the gym (I’ve gotten pretty good at kneeling on one). It also helps keep the little ones from grabbing things off my desk or pressing delete after six hours of prime writing. Nothing like making some money AND getting a core workout at the same time!

If all else fails (note on “failure” — unless you’re a rusty old pipe, let’s not use this term because there’s always a lesson to be learned in our human lives), I just stretch while I sleep. Yes, you can read that again. I stretch while I sleep, or as I’m going to bed, or as I’m tossing and turning wondering how I missed another chance to workout during the day! How does that work? Well, most of us probably do some stretching before or after a workout, right? We often lie down on the ground and work out some kinks… so I just transferred this practice to bed! It’s amazing how long you can hold a pose or find spots that need extra attention when you’re not crushed for time to get back to work, or meet your partner for lunch, or go pick up the kids.

So, challenge yourself to find some unique, quick, inventive ways to “hack” some movement into your day. You’ll find you have more energy and blood-flow. And you’ll find that it adds up!

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