Hi friends! Do you ever feel like it’s just impossible to find time for yourself? In our crazy overscheduled lives it can feel like a lost cause- who has the time for “me time”? I’m guilty of this as I feel like most of my days are centered around taking care of others from my kids to my husband to the dogs to other obligations. Some days feel like a complete blur and I want to fully enjoy life with some semblance of balance, but have no idea how to fit anything else in my schedule. Sound familiar to you? If so check out these 3 easy steps to make more time for yourself!
Prioritizing time to do the things for yourself will not only make you happy and keep you sane, but it will probably also make you more efficient when tackling the less fun aspects of your schedule and to-do lists.
Here is a great list of 3 simple tips from Real Simple that I’m hoping will be helpful:
1. Step Back (For a Second)
Make a wish list. Write down all the activities that you long to do more of―whether they’re things that make you happy, relaxed, sane(r), or all three. Rank the items in order of importance to you, then pick one or two to focus on. (Once you get the hang of this system, you can address the rest.)
Now write down how you really spend your time. If it’s all one make-lunch-carpool-run-around-like-crazy blur, keep a detailed diary for a few days. You might be surprised by how little time you spend doing things you love most. The key question to keep asking is, “Are you spending your time on the right things?”
2. Give Up What You Can
Consider this: Devoting more time to what you love can help you get more done overall. Neil Fiore, Ph.D., a psychologist in Berkeley, California, explains, “Research shows that to be productive and creative, you must make time for recreation and relaxation. Trying to skimp on them hurts your motivation and often leads you to procrastinate.” To find ways to free up time, take a look at your list of current activities and ask yourself four questions:
What can I delegate? OK, so maybe your 11-year-old can’t load the dishwasher quite as well as you can. Hand over that task and you’ve got 10 minutes to spend on something more fulfilling. The fact that you’re teaching your child responsibility―with, yes, an occasional eye roll―is a bonus. If you’ve reflexively been handling most of the household duties, turn some of them over to your spouse. Try similar strategies at work: Give junior staffers assignments that stretch their capabilities rather than doing the job yourself.
What can I outsource? Housecleaning is an obvious answer, but also think about things like tutoring for your kids. Before you decide you can’t afford this, scrutinize your spending. Chances are, there’s a way to reallocate your resources.
What can I do less well (at least sometimes)? When something you’re working on is good enough, stop. It’s a waste of time to do everything perfectly, such as polishing the underside of the banister. Instead, focus on doing the important things adequately.
What distractions can I limit, if not eliminate?
- Shut the door. Seriously. If you have work to do, make it clear that you need to be left alone.
- At work, check your e-mail only twice a day―at noon and at 4 p.m. Also, think about using the auto-respond feature: When you’re swamped, direct e-mailers to an assistant or, with his or her permission, a colleague.
- At home, give your phone a rest.
- As for TV, watch an episode of a show you love, then turn off the set. The average American spends 2.4 hours a day in front of the tube, but that investment yields sparse rewards. Studies show that watching TV doesn’t make people nearly as happy as activities that really engage them, like playing tennis, taking a walk, and eating with family.
3. Reschedule Your Schedule
Now that you’ve freed up precious minutes, decide how you want to spend your energy.
Establish one or two “non-negotiables” and work your schedule around them. For example, eight hours of sleep a night, two hours of exercise a week, or one night out for fun, suggests Valorie Burton, a life coach in Annapolis, Maryland.
Create your daily to-do list on an index card. This card forces you to focus on what’s important. Write down only what you can realistically accomplish in a day―three to five items. Then make sure at least one item from the top of your wish list is part of your weekly plan. Yes, that means writing in 30 minutes on the hammock with my book
Schedule a quick and brainless task first. This lets you cross off something right away and start the day feeling accomplished.
Schedule your most onerous task second. Whether it’s a difficult conversation with a friend or a tedious e-mail to a colleague, plan to get it over with next.
Challenge the list. “Sometimes all it takes to keep your sanity is to drop just one thing,” says Burton. Ask yourself: “What item here least reflects what matters most to me?”
Reassess every Friday. Gina Trapani, editor of Lifehacker.com, a website dedicated to time-saving technology tips, is a huge fan of this approach. On Friday afternoons, she sets aside a half hour to go through what she accomplished, personally and professionally, and to map out the next week. (Even a five-minute version of her ritual can do the trick.) “This helps me remember my priorities,” says Trapani. This also reminds her that it’s impossible to do everything. “When you’re realistic about how much you can do in a day,” she says, “you’re so much happier.” And isn’t that the point?