Ever find yourself spending more time doing things for others than for you? Maybe you ask yourself questions like “how can I get more hours in the day?” or “when will there be some time for me?” Perhaps you feel other things are a greater priority right now and you will find some time for you a bit later (but later never comes).
Our lives have never been busier. Mothers get just 17 minutes of ‘me time’ to themselves each day according to 2014 poll of 2,000 women. This is a downward trend. A similar poll in 2011 showed mothers had 26 minutes to themselves each day. Surely we need to me making more time for ourselves and not accepting less?
The data suggests it is even worse for men, with the average man getting just 58 minutes of ‘me time’ a week (8 minutes a day).
Now, I’m not writing this to start a battle of the sexes about who gets more or less ‘me time’. The reality is that we ALL need to make more time for ourselves.
Why Do We Need ‘Me Time’?
I don’t know about you, but I feel that when I am most content in myself, I show up as a better version of me for others too. If I’m frustrated, fed up or feeling desperate for a little space, then no matter how hard I try to be at my best, there is always a chance that the cracks will show.
Can you think of a time when you’ve not been at your best and you’ve vented your frustration at someone who had nothing do with you being frustrated in the first place? I know I can.
So if ‘me time’ is so important how can we make sure we get more of it?
#1 – Get Comfortable With Imperfection
A key reason many of us struggle to make time for ourselves is because we want everything else to be perfect first. For example, one of my coaching clients recently told me how frustrated she was that she didn’t have time to focus on herself because she had so many household things to deal with, including a mountain of washing to do and family meals to prepare. But would it really matter if some of the chores were left for another day? Are household chores really more important than her own wellbeing?
If we wait for the perfect time to do things we will never do them. Accept that perfection doesn’t exist and start making you a priority.
#2 – Schedule and Commit
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Once you have decided to make yourself a priority you need to schedule your ‘me time’. I have a few things I do where I make myself a priority. These include working on my physical body, my mind and my spirituality.
I’ll confess that I’m not always the best at sticking to things, but when I make a clear plan and schedule it, the chances that I will stick to that schedule are significantly increased. In fact, most of the times that I schedule something it gets done.
For example, I’ve found it more difficult recently to prioritise time for running. I have so many things fighting for my attention right now, that switching off and running for an hour or two sometimes feels impossible. The irony is that, for me at least, running is a bit like meditation. When I run it clears my head and I am always much more present for other people or projects I am working on after I run.
The things that fight for my attention are often things on my calendar, so my answer to this is simple – I schedule my times for running. I also make the appointments specific, so they don’t just say ‘go for a run’ they actually specify the type of training run and the distance I need to cover.
Just like other important appointments (such as coaching calls with my clients) I also set reminders to make sure I am ready to start each session on time.
Regardless of what your ‘me time’ will involve you doing, put it on your schedule or better still…
#3 – Create a daily ritual
I never let a single day pass without making time to be grateful. Every night, before I sleep I spend a few minutes writing about things I am grateful for in that day. I have a specific journal that I use for just this task and also a special pen that I keep with it. This is one task I never need to schedule, because it is a ritual.
When we create rituals (or habits) they eventually become second nature to us and something we do instinctively.
Sure, building a new habit can take a little time and you may need to create reminders to get you to do it for the first few weeks, but if you anchor it to something else you already do everyday you will soon find you no longer need the reminders.
For example, how about doing one of your ‘me time’ activities as soon as you get up each morning, or immediately before you take a shower, or straight after you put the kids to bed. If you anchor it against a task you will always be doing it won’t take long until you are always getting some ‘me ‘time’ too.
Something else that I practice is called the Pomodoro Technique. It is a time management method that uses a timer to break down activities into dedicated intervals (traditionally 25 minutes in length) separated by short breaks. I find this is a great way to maintain focus on things. I simply disconnect from all possible interruptions, set the timer and go. No sneaky checking of emails or social media. No answering phone calls. No taking a quick break to make a cuppa. A dedicated chunk of focussed time to get things done.
I use this when I am working, but also for ‘me time’. If I want some ‘me time’, laying in a nice hot bath with a book, but I know I have other things that need my attention I just set a timer. Those things can wait for half an hour while I read a chapter or two.
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