top of page

Optimizing Athletes' Rest and Recovery: The Reflective Time Audit

In our last blog we spoke about mindset shifts that are necessary to even be open to optimizing rest. In this article, I will offer a practical, implementable skill to evaluate and level up your rest and recovery.

Keywords: Athlete rest, athlete recovery, time audit, sports performance

In our previous blog, we discussed the importance of mindset shifts when it comes to prioritizing rest for athletes. In this article, I will provide a practical and implementable skill called the Reflective Time Audit to evaluate and enhance your rest and recovery routine. By tracking your time and reflecting on the impact of different activities, you can identify what truly promotes rejuvenation and make adjustments accordingly. This skill will help you understand that sometimes, doing less can actually lead to more significant progress— a concept I like to call "addition by subtraction."

Rest and Recovery as Performance Tools:

Rest and recovery are strategic tools for optimizing athletic performance. Regular rest days, engaging in recovery activities, and ensuring adequate sleep all contribute to the body's ability to recover, repair, and recharge. These practices result in improved physical performance, increased strength and endurance, and a reduced risk of burnout—a state that can hinder overall performance. In this blog, we will focus on a self-evaluative skill that allows you to assess the effectiveness of your rest and recovery efforts, identify practices that may hinder your progress, and strike a balance between enjoyable activities and those necessary for optimal recovery.

Introducing the Reflective Time Audit:

The Reflective Time Audit involves two key components: tracking your time usage and assessing the impact of each activity on your energy levels through journaling and self-reflection. To implement this audit, you can use the provided tracking sheet, a digital calendar, or a journal—choose the method that suits your lifestyle best. We recommend engaging in the time audit daily for at least two consecutive weeks, dedicating approximately 10 minutes per day to track and reflect. It's important not to overwhelm yourself, so select a reasonable amount of time that you can commit to consistently. Here's how it works:

Step #1 - Tracking

In the first column of your tracking sheet (or chosen method), write down the specific block of time during which you engaged in each activity. These blocks can be of varying lengths, depending on the activity.

Step #2 - Activity Listing

In the second column, provide a brief description of the activity. For instance, if you had school, work, a practice or competition, write that down. If you engaged in recreational, social, or self-care activities, mention them as well. For rest and recovery activities, clearly indicate the nature of the activity and whether it falls under the category of rest or recovery.

Defining Rest and Recovery: It's crucial to understand the distinction between rest and recovery. Rest refers to passive periods when an athlete refrains from physical or mental activity, allowing the body to relax and recharge. Recovery, on the other hand, involves intentional actions aimed at healing, repair, and adaptation, such as light exercise, stretching, or techniques that alleviate muscle soreness and promote tissue repair. Mental recovery should also be included, encompassing activities like spending time with loved ones or engaging in hobbies unrelated to athletics.

Step #3 - Rating & Reflection

For activities identified as rest or recovery, assign a rating from 1 to 10 in the third column, based on how effectively they positively impact your energy levels and promote a sense of rejuvenation. Take a few moments to reflect on why you assigned that rating by asking yourself relevant questions, such as the ones provided here:

  • How am I feeling as a result of this rest or recovery activity?

  • Did this rest or recovery activity impact me the way I thought it would?

  • Is there anything I could have done differently to improve the quality and impact of this activity?

  • Do I need to reframe how I view the impact of this activity on my energy level and overall well-being?

Step #4 - Overall Rating

At the end of each day, give yourself an overall rest and recovery rating on a scale of 1 to 10. Make note of any observations regarding the use of your time and its impact on your energy levels and progress towards your goals and values as an athlete and a person.

Step #5 - Gaining Insights & Making Adjustments

After completing the two-week Reflective Time Audit, analyzing your tracked activities can reveal surprising insights. You may discover that some activities you believed to be rest or recovery are actually more draining than beneficial. For instance, that vinyasa yoga class you considered as recovery might turn out to be exhausting and depleting, prompting you to explore alternative options like yin yoga or a less intense mobility session. Similarly, while spending Saturday nights at a nightclub with friends may contribute to your mental recovery, you might realize that excessive alcohol consumption is taking a toll on your physical well-being, prompting the need for adjustments.

It's important to note that the goal of this activity is not to strip away the enjoyment from activities that bring you joy. Instead, it aims to bring awareness to the narratives we create about our time and the impact those decisions have on our energy levels. By evaluating your current rest and recovery strategies and questioning whether what you perceive as rest is truly restful, you can reclassify behaviors and create space for activities that genuinely serve your recovery needs.

Rest is a fundamental and non-negotiable component of any athlete's training program. Adequate rest, including quality sleep, allows your body to recover, repair, and rejuvenate. This leads to improved physical and mental performance, reduced risk of injuries, optimized hormonal balance, and enhanced immune system function. Through the Reflective Time Audit, you can gain valuable insights and begin adjusting how you allocate your limited time, ensuring that you perform at your highest level while prioritizing your mental well-being.

Are you ready to optimize your rest & recovery?

Give the Reflective Time Audit a try and take charge of your journey towards peak performance and overall well-being.

Enjoyed it? Tag us on Instagram or Facebook @cognitivepursuits.


bottom of page