Life is busy, right?

We know how amazing hitting the trails, catching a wave or climbing a crag can be for our physical and mental health. We feel the difference that a day (or even a few hours) in nature can make to our happiness. There’s even plenty of scientific evidence to back up our feelings.

But making time for outdoor activities can so easily be pushed down the priority list. You work during the week and weekends are filled with life admin and, if you’re lucky, lunches or dinners with friends. Then suddenly it’s been weeks since you’ve spent any time outdoors worth mentioning. The term “nature deficit disorder” may have its critics, but you can’t say there’s no truth in the idea.

I’m the worst for this. I’m at the point right now where my kids, who sometimes groan at the idea of another day of hiking with me, are complaining that we don’t do it enough. Something needs to change and that’s the way I prioritise things. Any time’s a good time for positive change, so I brainstormed some ideas for how to reclaim time in life for outdoor adventure.

Trade one of those weekly gym sessions for time outdoors

If you’re mindful of your fitness and agility or even just your mental health, there’s a good chance you’ve got a gym membership. While a quick trip to the gym is the most time efficient way to keep yourself in shape and get those endorphins flowing, there’s no doubt you could benefit from balancing that with time outdoors. It may not be as intense a workout but it’s about balance and there are always ways to make up for the lost gym time. If hiking is your outdoor adventure of choice, choose a steep mountain to climb and make the time count.

Swap cafe lunches with friends for group hikes, rides or climbs

Time for socialising is one of the best things we prioritise for our mental health, but my friends and I tend towards a boozy Sunday lunch over an outdoor adventure. Not the healthiest option or the financially wisest option, is it? When I make the more considered decision and take my mates for a hike, I’m never sorry I did. You can swap people watching for wildlife spotting, beer for thirst-quenching, life-giving water, table to mouth arm exercises for ummm… actual exercise, and still prepare yourself a delicious lunch with a view. A day on the trail with mates gives you all the same shit talk, with the added bonus that you’ll remember it tomorrow and you’ll end up happier and healthier, and not too much poorer for it.

Find more time for outdoor adventure

Meal prepper? Go with a food box service instead

I spend a good part of most Sundays meal prepping my week. It’s affordable and efficient, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t take the fun out of cooking and I get a little sick of eating the same thing all the time. I’m thinking about signing up for a food box service like HelloFresh. I’ve done a couple of trials and I’m keen on the variety (of cooking and eating), without the hassle of writing shopping lists and searching the supermarket isles for ingredients – because again, even more time I could spend outdoors. As I mentioned, food prepping is cheaper, but if you can afford to it’s a good way to reclaim some time.

Outsource your yard and housework

Sometimes it seems like almost my entire weekend is lost to yard work and cleaning up after those feral children of ours. I should remind them of that when they complain that we don’t go hiking enough. Or better yet, maybe I should just let someone else do it. It’s relatively easy to find an affordable cleaner, gardener or handyman these days using outsourcing apps like Airtasker, classified sites like Gumtree, or just by asking around in local Facebook Groups. Again, if you can afford to trade money for time, replacing these weekend tasks with time outdoors is very achievable. You won’t know yourself.

Quit using your time off for lazy beach holidays and spend your holidays on the trail

Now that we’ve found some ways to reclaim some crucial weekend hours to spend outdoors, it’s time to look bigger. When was the last time you managed to spend a few days outdoors? As in, a few days all in a row. Whether it’s a relaxing camping trip or a multi-day hike, bikepacking or packrafting trip, the more time you can spend being active outdoors the better.

What do you do with your annual leave? Most of us could pretty easily be convinced to hit a Thai beach resort instead of spending that valuable time off on the trail. Next time, save your money and explore your own backyard.

Acknowledge that its something you need for your physical and mental health

More important than (and probably a good precursor to) all of the above is acknowledging that the time you spend outdoors is something you need in order to live a healthy, happy and well-balanced life. In theory, once you’ve acknowledged this it should be easy to start pushing your outdoor adventures further up the priority list.

For me, though, I should just need to keep reminding myself the kids are actually ASKING for it. I should absolutely make the most of this… before they change their minds.

How do you reclaim valuable time in your life to redirect toward outdoor activities? Got any questions, comments or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.

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