Your Number One Priority

October 10, 2011 · 27 comments


I’ve been in a state of transition lately and under higher than usual levels of stress and pressure.

About a month ago, I went a week without exercise.

Reflecting on this, I realised how hypocritical it was. I think living healthier is the single biggest accelerator we could apply to improving society today.┬áBut here I am, falling prey to the same excuses – too much work, not enough time, too tired, too hard, tomorrow.

So I made a decision. I decided to re-prioritise.

For the last month, my number one priority every single day has been to exercise. I have done this to the exclusion of meetings, work tasks and leisure time.

In doing this, I realised how absurd it was to live any other way. Exercise:

  • increases productivity and focus
  • improves physical health
  • balances your mental state
  • makes you a better worker, boss, employee, brother, son, husband, lover, parent, mentor and friend.

An 8 hour work day with exercise is more valuable than an 10 hour work day without.

Justifying daily exercise as your number one priority is such an easy thing to do.

If exercise isn’t your number one priority, your priorities are wrong.


Mark Lobo October 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

For reals. However, I can’t seem to excercise more than twice a week. Not because of excuses or my schedule etc, but because it wears me out and isn’t as enjoyable. I think everyone has a different balance. I do think that the clarity that comes from activities like excercise is invaluable, but also feel that other things like writing, meditating, and even siestas, can supplement this and still achieve the points above. For me, health and happiness are the highest priorities, but exercise isn’t necessarily the source of all of it.

Nick Crocker October 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

I think my definition of exercise includes walking the dog, just walking, a whole lot of non-tiring things. Something to get the blood flowing is important.

Exercise is NOT necessarily treadmills, weights and exhaustion.

Franklin Chen October 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

You are absolutely right about the importance of exercise. Having experienced both times of regular daily exercise and going without and returning to the regularity, I can testify about how important it is for me to get circulation, even if just getting up and doing a few pushups. Furthermore, if I get half an hour or hour of exercise, I don’t find that it is time taken away from my day. It is time added to my day. Let’s say that I’m half as productive if I’m completely sedentary and sluggish. Then one hour of exercise applied to a block of four hours of work would give me four units of productivity, while without the exercise, I’d have five hours of work but only two and a half units of productivity. A terrible tradeoff!

Nick Crocker October 10, 2011 at 10:04 am

@Franklin – Love it.

James Hynes October 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

Thank you for this, I’ve myself been pushing exercise down my priority list. Time to re-think.

Robb Lejuwaan October 10, 2011 at 11:45 am

I’m happy to read you re-prioritised your life to include more exercise. A few months ago I woke up on a Sunday morning feeling I was in a funk. I was working 12-14 hour days, not exercising and under a great amount of stress. That day I decided to do a little experiment; to see what would happen if I walked six miles and meditated 30 minutes a day for 30 days? The answer to that question was that my business became more profitable while requiring less work, I felt spiritually connected again and in general I was simply much happier and productive. May you have a similar experience.

Jason Schoolmeester October 10, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I had a situation at work where I couldn’t get the face time with my boss, so I invited him to an early breakfast meeting at 7am, which was great, we go to work an hour later and we hit the ground running. Later we decided the breakfast meeting was great, but rather than breakfast we could walk. We couldn’t do that at 7am and still get into work at a reasonable time so we decided to walk after work. Which was a great idea, but failed miserably in execution. We simply found that for one or both of us, the end of the day was hard to control and that in the end the walk was the thing that got cancelled.

Then I had a brilliant idea: why don’t we walk in the mornings? Well that would mean we have to get up and walk at 6am so we are done by 7am so we can get ready for work and arrive at a respectable time. We bit the bullet and started doing it, that was in about 2004.

Now we haven’t walked every day, but one thing we have noticed over this time is that once we start to miss a few days in a row or a few weeks (eg one of us goes on holiday, the other often stops walking) then you feel it. Your body almost craves the exercise. It impacsts your mood, your productivity, and your general wellbeing. For me, exercising with a work colleague and friend means that we can socialise, talk work and exercise all at the same time. Not a bad way to start the day.

So I would add to all the advice on exercise, if you find it hard to prioritise, make it easy on yourself and find a time you can control. For me that time is now 5:45am to 7:00am – I own this time and I use it for exercise.

We currently walk Mon-Fri between 5:45 to 6:45, we have 3 different walking routes. A recent innovation was the bring a friend day. We once walked a new route and found friends also walking around at that time and they joined with us. Now we like to do this every now again, so if you are in Darwin and looking for some walking budies, get in touch.

Another project of mine is about to commence. I just got my stand-up desk approved. I will blog about this in coming weeks, very excited.

Martin October 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Nick, how would you prioritize if it would become a trade-off between sleep and exercize?

Martin October 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Nick, how would you prioritize if it would become a trade-off between sleep and exercise?

Nick Crocker October 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

@Jason – I love that. Nice one.

@Martin – Ha. Good question. I think it’s really fundamental to living well. But how to explain that to a new Dad or a CEO of a 500 person company? I think I’d prioritise the minimum amount of sleep necessary…

Clinton October 11, 2011 at 12:19 am

Ouch. Just took a week off myself. Struggling with the same priorities as today is day one back at it but schedule seems to be pushing it to the wayside!

Clinton October 11, 2011 at 12:20 am

Ouch. Just took a week off myself. Struggling with the same priorities as today is day one back at it but schedule seems to be pushing it to the wayside! Good inspiration for me

Chris Yeh October 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Time to work exercise into your work day. If you’re taking regular breaks (which you should, according to the Cornell Ergonomics Lab), instead of just wandering to get a cup of coffee, stop and knock out some exercises. Something as simple as 10 burpees, performed five times in a day, will give you a lot of exercise benefits.

Kevin Pruett October 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Awesome…this was exactly the spark I needed. I started falling prey to the exact same excuses. Exercise is just way too important to put off. Thanks!

Mark Lobo October 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Yeah, I guess I hadn’t really considered parts of my everyday routine as exercise. With that said, it’s easy to add 10 pushups to every break I take when doing desk work.

Devin Ryerson October 16, 2011 at 2:40 am

Good priorities Nick; saw your quote at Daniel Miessler’s blog. I try to remind myself everyday of these things and what works for me is to simply walk out the front door, leaving anything electronic behind … So many people can benefit from your thought, that I want to re-post if that would be okay? Of course I will credit and link back to you .

Looking forward to your work with lifestyle design. I am currently leveraging my primary health company, Pure Prescriptions into the telemedicine realm with healthcare professionals through a company called PureRXO –

Robbie October 19, 2011 at 9:14 am

Nice post Nick.

I think it’s such a crock (no pun intended) when people say they don’t have time.

Stop watching F*ing Gossip girl.

Everyone on the planet has 24 hours a day. Use one for exercise – you still have 23 left to do what you want.

Robbie October 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

Nice post Nick.

I think it\’s such a crock (no pun intended) when people say they don\’t have time.

Stop watching F*ing Gossip girl.

Everyone on the planet has 24 hours a day. Use one for exercise – you still have 23 left to do what you want.

Suzie October 26, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Ahhh just the wakeup call I needed, thanks Nick. Will you pass on Jason Schoolmeesters blog? (I love the way you write Jason) and dead keen to hear how the standup desk trial goes…

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 8 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: