Making time to ride: 7 ways to fit it in
Making time to ride doesn’t have to be so difficult – does it? As we each live busier and busier lives, sometimes it seems next to impossible to make our riding commitments stick. Here’s a few things you can try to help you get out in the saddle more often.
Ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? It’s a great way of prioritising your activities ranked by level of importance and urgency for your day, week or even month.
Grab a piece of paper, and divide it into 4. Top left, decide what is Important and Urgent. Generally, this is crisis, emergencies or important deadlines, but would also include feeding animals (and family). These should be ticked off your list quickly.
Top right is Important and Not Urgent. This section often includes relationships and family, and is likely where your horse riding will fall. Allocate a large amount of planned time for these activities.
Bottom left in Not Important and Urgent. These items need doing soon but are not important to you – so can you delegate them? If not, get them done quickly and don’t spend too much time on them.
The final quadrant is Not Important and Not Urgent. Usually television, games and social media fall into this category. In September 2016, Mediakix estimated the average time a person spent on social media PER DAY was almost 2 hours!! But let me ask you – if it’s neither urgent nor important, could it be nothing more than a time waster, which you could be using more productively, for example, riding?
Negotiate like Samuel L Jackson in, well, the Negotiator
Nearly all of us are required to work to be able to afford our general expenses (most of which goes to our ponies, dare I say!). While not possible in all cases, there is a chance that you can negotiate with your boss for some flexibility in your work day. Here are a few suggestions that may work for you, depending on your work situation:
Can you start/finish earlier, or perhaps even later, to take advantage of some time with your family and horse?
Can you negotiate some of your break times to be at the end of the day, to leave earlier?
Can you negotiate time in lieu in place of overtime, and spread those hours throughout your week/month?
Look after your health
It might sound cliché, but the better your health, the more energy your have and the more productive -you will be. Ensure to get a solid sleep, eat well and make time for exercise – remember, horse riding is exercise!
Save your daylight
Horse riding is an activity that favours sunlight, unless you are lucky enough to an undercover arena with lights. Have a look over your Eisenhower matrix, and highlight the activities that can be done in the dark, such as housework, meal prepping or (in my case) writing.
Organisation is key
When your time is limited, organisation is key to getting maximum value. Having your tack shed organised in a way that allows quick access to everything you need for a short ride will be guaranteed time saver.
At the same time, organising your desk can save you precious time that should be used wisely - riding, of course.
It’s time for a new mantra
When we become busy our focus can shift off our important priorities and onto random, unimportant tasks. This not only wastes our time but starts to change our views of the important tasks in our lives, in essence negating their higher priority.
This doesn’t mean that you should beat yourself up when other, urgent and/or important activity take away your ability to ride, but is definitely something to think about if your time is being absorbed by non-urgent and unimportant tasks.
Put some effort into making your horse more receptive to your training
Spending time now training your horse will save you loads of time when you really are short on time. Think about it - how much time do you waste:
Trying to avoid being shoved around by your horse at feed time?
Trying to put a bridle on the sudden giraffe?
Chasing your horse around the paddock because he doesn’t want to be caught?
Spending the time to make sure your boundaries are respected & your horse enjoys spending time with you will save more time than your realise.
What tips do you have for making more time for riding?