I was recently doing a speaking engagement for a group of Fortune 500 executives in the technology sector and we were talking about how regular exercise improves cognitive performance, focus, energy, and resiliency.  One of them raised their hand and asked “I know you travel a lot, so how do you fit regular exercise into your schedule?”

My answer was simple:  “I schedule it.”

I look at my calendar each week and write my workouts in like any other meeting, speaking engagement or conference call – and the workouts are just as important commitments as the professional ones.  They don’t get skipped or pushed aside.  I commit to 5 high-quality, intense workouts each week regardless of my schedule.  They are non-negotiable.

Putting them in my calendar also makes me look ahead into my week and start planning around obstacles.  Will I have a really long travel day?  That will be one of my “off” days.  Will I be at a hotel?  I’ll look online to see if there’s a gym on site or I’ll throw Hit the Deck in my bag.

It’s not that hard and a quality workout does not have to take an hour.  If I only have 20 minutes, I’ll focus in and work like crazy for that 20 minutes to get the most return on my investment.

A busy schedule is not a deal breaker.  Look at your calendar this week – where can you squeeze in a few quality workouts?  Look at your calendar again and ask yourself how many nights you watch television.  You may have just found some extra time you thought you didn’t have.  Could you wake up 20 minutes earlier and check it off your list before your day gets away from you?

“A busy schedule” is really a lie we tell ourselves to let ourselves off the hook.  We find time for things that are important to us.  I’ve worked with some of top executives in the world and not a single one has ever been able to look me in the eye and tell me they don’t have 20 spare minutes in a 24-hour period.  Those same executives thank me months later when they have been reaping the rewards of a well thought out, consistent, quality exercise program.

You could be too – now pull out your calendar.