Time management in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Hello again, are the Gi’s all sitting comfy this week? Glad to hear it. Today I wanted to talk about managing a daily schedule. Especially if you are feeling your time is becoming a little BJJ-centric, at a detriment to some other aspects of your life, or alternatively, if it seems you just aren’t hitting all the training sessions necessary to get you that sweet feeling of progress and accomplishment, you might find this useful. 

For me personally, it’s university: having to balance classes, assignments, often part-time work, working out and training. Admittedly this has never been particularly easy, but with practice, it became manageable. Before my first year, so during high-school and the quintessentially millennial ‘gap year’, I never felt that busy. I managed to attend training at my leisure, as school had set hours, and during the gap year I only worked part-time. Arriving at University was a slight shock in a workload regard, however, there was another factor. I joined a University-based MMA club. They trained 3 times a week at the time, split into one class for no-gi wrestling, one for striking, and one in an open mat format. I thought this a little lax at first, but quickly forgot my concerns, content in the belief that I was training, and thus, must be making progress. It’s also worth mentioning that first year, (duh) turned out to actually require fairly little work in comparison to the rest of my university career. 

Coming back home for my first summer and showing up at my old gym proved a harsh reality check. My skills had clearly deteriorated, as well as, to an extent, my training ethic.

“Oh no, I’ve gone soft!!”

I decided this was not acceptable, and resolved to increase my training, primarily by joining an independent BJJ/MMA gym. Sure enough, I found one at a manageable distance from where I was staying, and started training more regularly, showing up most days and dropping by the University club on a fairly regular basis, for a little ‘bonus training’. The governing training philosophy there was: “You slacked off for a year, so now, the more, training the better.” I also took on a part-time job on the weekends. Predictably, after a few months, what I felt most days more than anything was tired. On top of that, after somehow fumbling through mid-terms, I realized I hadn’t actually done any real studying all semester. This meant I was staring down the barrel of a solid 2-3 week, 12 hours library day cramming period just to pass. I diligently spent this time kicking myself at every study break. Clearly, this was also not the way to go and drastic adjustments had to be made. 

For the following semester I decided to try to sit down and workout a concrete plan. The end result was a very simple practice I got into, which was planning out my day first thing in the morning, structuring it and setting up some phone alarms to keep me on track throughout the day. This may not seem like something groundbreaking, and it isn’t, but consistently sticking to it has really demonstrated to me how much time I was wasting during the day, just sort of sitting there between activities.

Of course, this isn’t a magic life hack that’ll turn a 24-hour period into a temporal equivalent of an elastic band; I still don’t always get everything done some days. I am still occasionally late and skip certain planned activities because I did not finish the previous one on time.

However, the practice does help structure and streamline your priorities.

Once you have a ‘bird’s eye’ view of your day, week or month,  deciding which activities you consider urgent enough that they can supersede others, and which you can only allocate a set time to, becomes a much simpler and less stressful task. I wouldn’t consider myself a naturally organized person, by any means, but as a result I find it much easier to comfortably hit 5-6 training sessions a week, with a healthy slow-down for exam periods, as well as take the necessary ‘holidays’ from training. 

An important note here would be, if this is something you are struggling with, it might prove worth it to stop and carefully consider what you want out of the sport and what your priorities are. You might find out that over time your expectations of the sport have changed: perhaps you used to want to be a pro, full-time athlete but have since found that BJJ better fits your life as a hobby or as more of an ‘academic’, rather than competitive endeavor, yet you are still training the same way, out of habit. Perhaps it is vice versa, and you would like BJJ to have a more central role in your life. Once you know this, making adjustments will likely become a much easier and clearer task. 

I hope this has been of some help and don’t forget to schedule some downtime for yourselves, maybe for some casual reading, perhaps something like Grappling Insider (hint, hint) ????.