Dr.Covey talks about the 4 dimensions of human life, viz. Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Emotional/Social in his 7habits book and suggests that we invest about an hour a day in renewing ourselves across these four dimensions to bring long lasting and significant changes in our lives.
In an attempt to apply what I have learned, I have started walking to office instead of driving. I live about 3.5 miles from my work. So it takes me about an hour to go one way. That’s about 2 hours of walking a day, 5 days a week. While I walk, I listen to audio books or podcasts on topics that I am interested in. I have been doing this for a couple weeks now. Although, I am only exercising two ( physical and mental) out of the four dimensions, I am already starting to see kind of results Dr.Covey is talking about. Let me share with you some of the benefits I have experienced so far. I have spared mentioning the obvious health benefit.
I have started sleeping better and on time. Brisk walking, exercises the dominant muscles in the body and because of the exercise my body is automatically adapting to give itself the required amount of rest. Nature’s wonderful display of the P/PC principle in action.
Wake up early
I have also noticed that I am waking up earlier than usual in the morning without much effort. My previous pathetic, attempts to waking up early included,
Setting up multiple alarms
Keeping the alarm in the next room and forcing myself to get out of the bed, only to snooze and find my way back to bed.
Asking my friends/family ( living in a different timezone) to give a wake up call etc.
None of these actually worked for more than a couple days.
Morning walk automatically makes me hungry and consequently I have started having breakfasts regularly. Previously I skipped my breakfasts often .
I learn new things while I walk. I listen to audio books or podcasts on topics that interest me. That is two hours per day or 10 hours per week of personal learning time without sacrificing my family time on the weekends. I am already beginning to see the size of my reading queue decrease.
Plan the day
Inevitably, I start to think about the day ahead and figure out the top list of things that I need to accomplish at work. Although things seldom go according to plan, this has given me a head-start and has increased my efficiency at work.
This is also my personal time. I don’t get interfered especially during my morning walk. I have started to use this time to do some deep thinking i.e think about my long term goals and objectives, assess my priorities etc.
Since walking is a low concentration activity, I can afford to multi-task and concentrate on other intellectual activities like learning or planning. This definetely saves time.
I enjoy the fresh breeze and the morning sun especially.
A hint of work life balance
I have started to leave my work at the office.Literally !!!. How ? You ask. Let me explain. Being a software developer, my entire work happens on my office laptop. Once you start walking 2 hours per day, you automatically start thinking minimalism. You start to clear unwanted things from your office bag ( backpack in my case). The 5 pound laptop feels heavier with each step and I have started to leave it at work. However, this also means that you have to be more efficient at work and make sure you complete your tasks that you had planned for the day. You cannot afford to bring back work to home. However, since its just been couple weeks I think its a little premature to put this as a benefit. Will have to wait and see if this works out in the long run.
While I have just mentioned the benefits, there are also potential downsides. I have noticed that I have to plan my day more carefully and throughly. For Instance, I forgot a few important documents couple days ago and couldn’t come back home to get it. Consequently I couldn’t get the work done on that day. My ability to respond to unplanned events like, pick up the grocery on your way back, mail the documents etc is also drastically reduced. But I think these are small sacrifices to make and the benefits far out weigh the downsides.
If you live far away or if you prefer to, you can still reap these benefits by biking to work. In fact, you can get to your destination faster and have more freedom to respond to unplanned events. But please apply caution if you plan on listening to your audio while you bike on the road. I strongly suggest you dont listen and ride.
Converting it into a habit
If you are planning to add some kind of physical activity in you life, then try to insert them into your daily routine. For example, my previous attempts to hit the gym either in the morning or in the evening have not worked out in the long run because once the initial will-power and the enthusiasm wears off, I tend to slack off and eventually give up. This time I have included it as means to get to office and so far its worked out very well. This is especially important early on when you are trying to convert the desired action into a habit.
So what are you waiting for ? Stop driving. Start walking. Ride safe.