In the past, when life got busy and stressful, my exercise routine and efforts at eating healthily were the first thing that went out of the window.

I’m not going to lie, when I’m stressed I still often turn to Netflix and a huge bar of chocolate to help me decompress. I have, however, worked really hard over the last few years on making sure that I don’t let everything fly out of the window when things get tough.

I’m self employed, which gives me a certain luxury to set my own schedule. It does also mean that I don’t get to just clock off at 5 and have time at leisure. Self-employment can mean long hours and no pay if you’re not there to do the work. Sometimes its super tempting to skip that gym session or long run after a stressful day, or work a little longer and order a pizza.

Recently I was contacted by Rennie, makers of indigestion remedies (which I know I’ll need if I order that pizza!) who asked me to share my top tips for “life on the go”. So today, here are the top 5 ways I’ve learnt to help me stick to my routine as much as possible when life gets stupidly hectic.

1. Make a date

I’ve made this point before, but seriously, nothing has helped me stick to my workout routine more than scheduling it in as an appointment. If you work in an office job it might be as simple as taking your gym kit to work and knowing that you will go straight from the office. For me I schedule not only workout days, but times. Setting days meant I when I was busy I would push the workout back, and back, and all of a sudden it was 9pm and I was still sat at my computer and hadn’t had dinner and now we all know THAT’S not happening, don’t we?

I normally try and work out in the morning before I start work. This gets it out of the way for the rest of the day and means it’s harder to push it back so far I miss it. As I’m self-employed it often means working later in the evening to make up for missed time in the morning, but it means I’ve already done my workout, so that doesn’t matter!

2. Plan your meals

Yawn. Like a million people haven’t said this a million times, and you still never do it. Honestly, planning my meals made the biggest difference to sticking to a healthy eating plan and not ordering takeaways!

It doesn’t have to be in depth meal prep, boxing everything up at the beginning of the week. It can be as simple as just writing a list of what’s for dinner each night and sticking it to the fridge. If you know you’ll end up throwing away food if you crack and order pizza then it makes you a little less inclined to do it.

Be realistic when you meal plan as well. If you know that on Wednesday you have an evening event that starts at 7:30pm, plan something simple to eat before you go out, not a 3 course gourmet dinner.

3. Order in

No, not takeaway food. Your real food. Time spent wandering around the supermarket is wasted time when you could be doing work, or going for a run. It also puts you in the way of all the temptations that the supermarket has very carefully planned to put in your way. Remember all those times that you went to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and came home with a box of biscuits, a James Bond box set and an exciting new shampoo? The supermarket MEANT for that to happen. They planned it.

Write your meal plan, and order those ingredients through online shopping. You can arrange delivery, or even collect it yourself. Either way you’ll save time and you won’t be buying unnecessary things you don’t need.

4. Learn to say no

Sometimes we have to learn to turn things down, just because we need time for ourselves. If you’ve been out till 10pm 5 nights this week, it’s ok to turn down the 6th invite just because you need a night in.

Rest is as vital to your health as exercise and healthy eating. If you’re working hard on your exercise routine then stress hormones and lack of rest can easily derail all your efforts. Take your rest seriously and schedule it in your diary like you do you exercise program. Yoga is an excellent stress reliever, so working that into your weekly plan will help.

5. Don’t skimp on sleep

In addition to just taking a day off, it’s important to make sure you get good quality sleep. Sleep is important to our health. Burning the candle at both ends might make you feel like you’re a kick-ass, super-important, executive bitch who works hard and plays hard, but in reality it will make you bad at your job, bad at your workouts, and make you ill.

Try and go to sleep and get up at a regular time, no matter how busy life gets, and take some steps to improve the quality of your sleep.

So, those are my top tips for balancing a healthy lifestyle with a demanding job.

How do you manage your schedule?

This post was produce in collaboration with Rennie®. All thoughts are my own.