“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche
A couple of years ago I had a desk job as a Civil Engineer. It was tedious work, and my supervisors weren’t always the easiest to work with. My favorite parts of the day were when I was out of the office on break.
Every day would eat lunch at my desk while continuing to work so I could take a long walk for my lunch break. I drove to a trail nearby and enjoyed music or time to think as I strolled down the path.
Getting back to work I had a tired body but refreshed mind. I grew to love the walks and miss the days when I could go on them.
These days I don’t have to deal with the difficulties of that job anymore. Instead, I enjoy the freedom of working for myself. I get to make my own schedule. At first, I didn’t think about adding walking to my day because I wanted to focus more on my family.
But if I learned anything in 2020 it’s that walking is even more helpful than ever.
I’ve reworked my daily schedule dozens of times, trying to figure out the best place to work on each of my goals and areas of life. But last year when I realized that I could re-introduce that afternoon walk everything began to change.
My walking time is usually the same as naptime for my kids. This would be great for my wife to take a break, but our oldest doesn’t nap anymore. So I got the idea to take him and the youngest every afternoon.
At first, it was just a more effective way to use my afternoons. Nobody works efficiently around 2–4 pm. I was tired of having to pretend I was working when I could have been using my time more wisely.
But after making it a habit, I quickly realized that this was the most influential time of the entire day because it affected every aspect of my life for the better. I had found a way to work on every one of my goals at the same time.
How walking lets me work on my goals all at once
My afternoon walk gives me time with my kids, exercise, and the chance to give my wife a break or time to get some work done. I get time to think, meditate, ponder, and pray.
I’m more effective when I finish the walk because of the exercise. And I’m no longer wasting that time pretending I’m working.
My afternoon walk not only influences every aspect of my life, but also every aspect of the entire rest of the day. It’s like a flywheel that just keeps getting more powerful the longer I do it.
The exercise helps me get more and better quality sleep, as I knew it would because the research says so. That extra sleep and improved quality of it make my mornings more productive.
Because I haven’t let the afternoon energy slump make me fall asleep, I’m also a lot more energized in the evenings when I spend time with my family. The exercise also helps me regulate my mood better, which helps me be a better husband and father.
One of my favorite benefits is that this activity keeps me from feeling discouraged about the afternoon like I used to. I would try to focus, couldn’t, and would get frustrated with myself that I’d spent the last hour on Reddit instead of finishing a blog post like I really wanted to.
How to work on all of your goals at once
If you incorporate a walk into your day, at any point, it has the power to let you work on all of your goals at once and set you on an upward trajectory the rest of your day. Consider this as you begin:
- Take someone you love with you to spend time on your social life.
- Enjoy the outdoors to help you connect with your spiritual side.
- Listen to a book to give you ideas to improve your finances.
- And, of course, the obvious, walking is good for your health!
On a larger scale, if walking isn’t your thing or you don’t have time for it, follow these two steps to figure out how you can use your time more efficiently:
- Find activities that will have a high impact on your success in all areas of your life and all other parts of your day. Eliminate everything else.
- Keep trying different things until you discover what works best for you.
Maybe walking works with your schedule, but doesn’t have all the benefits I’ve described. Maybe your biggest impact activity happens in the mornings, with a solid routine that lets your work toward each of your goals positively impact all the others.
Whatever it is, keep testing to find what’s best for you. By doing this you can see big gains in all aspects of your life and start an upward spiral to success.
All it takes is just one hour a day.