We live in a fast-paced world. Everyone is rushing from one place to another, buzzing along his or her day like we’re all in a race to get from morning to night. The unfortunate side effect of this mentality is that we often forget that we need a break to recharge our batteries – the adult version of naptime – or we burn out and are unable to complete our tasks to the best of our abilities. Plus, like toddlers, we can get cranky. Taking time to yourself to do something you enjoy doing without the pressure of deadlines or appointments looming over your head will help you live a healthier, happier life and give you a positive outlook (which in turn will help you find solutions to the challenges we all face on a daily basis!)
Step #1 – Lists Everywhere!
Ask yourself two very important questions: What do I do each day? What do I WANT to do each day? Create two lists under those questions. The majority of the people who do this exercise will find that their lists don’t match. This is because we rarely do what we want – our responsibilities, be they family or career or other, tend to monopolize our time and make it difficult to do the things that really make us happy. Once you have your lists, pick the two or three activities you do each day that you dislike or that take up a lot of time for very little reward. Delegate these tasks to a junior at work, your spouse or a friend (depending on the nature of the task). Replace them with two or three activities from your list of “wants”.
Step #2 – Schedule It!
We make appointments for other people – to meet them for coffee, drop our kids off at rehearsal or meet with a client to discuss terms. So why not schedule appointments for ourselves? Next time you’re planning your week, add 30 minutes to each day where you’re set to busy and unavailable. These 30 minutes can be spread out over the day in 5-minute chunks, or spent all at once. Scheduling this time for yourself will ensure that you take it. Especially if you make sure it’s nonnegotiable, which often means telling yourself, more than others, that this time is yours and no one else’s. Easy Trick: If you live and work in a city with public transit, take that instead of driving. During the ride to and from work, don't allow yourself to think about your to-dos. Instead, listen to your favorite music and read a book, do a crossword or daydream. It's an easy way to make time for yourself AND it's environmentally friendly.
Step #3 – Focus on YOU!
This is probably the most difficult step. We are so overwhelmed by everything else in our lives – the project due tomorrow, a child’s grades or problems at school, planning dinner or lunches – that turning off our brains (so to speak) is often the most challenging part of taking time to yourself. While you’re enjoying your coffee alone for 10 minutes, allow yourself to drift and daydream. Read a book. Do a crossword. If you start feeling guilty, put that guilt in a metaphorical bubble and let it drift away. If you start thinking about your work or responsibilities, put those thoughts in a metaphorical box and seal it with metaphorical packing tape. You can open it again when your alone time is done. YOU DESERVE THIS TIME.
Remember that, as it’s both true and very important. We all deserve some time to recharge our batteries and prepare for the stresses of life. Every single one of us. So next time you feel yourself fraying at the edges, take a moment to make those lists, reschedule your time and enjoy, you’ll be glad you did!
Not sure what to do with your “ME” time?
We’ve put together a list of suggestions so that you can give yourself a fighting chance! 5 – 10 minutes
15 – 30 minutes
- Enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch and watch the clouds go by (leave your phone inside or at your desk)
- Take a walk (again, leave your phone behind)
- Cuddle with your pet, child or spouse
- Put on some music and close your eyes
30 – 60 minutes
- Chat with a friend – you don’t need a purpose for the chat, just talk about YOU or even just for the sake of talking
- Do the crossword
- Putter around the house (doing things you love, not chores)
- Go to the spa for a massage, facial or mani-pedi
- Have a luxurious bath
- Take a nap
- Attend a class just for fun – sketching, improv, needlepoint, anything!
- Take a long walk (leave your phone behind!!)
- Read a good book.
- Visit a museum, see a play, watch a movie or attend an art show.