‘How do we make time for ourselves?’ the journalist from Woman’s Own magazine asked me recently. ‘What tips do you have?’
We always hope there might be ways we can save time, be more productive, fit more in, and there are. But there are two top things to know, and without those, time for yourself simply won’t happen.
- You have to believe it’s important.
- You have to schedule time for it.
If you’re a busy person, I bet there are things you never miss. If your son has to be at football practice, you get him there. You wouldn’t dream of missing your regular client meeting. But are you doing that for things that matter to you?
Do you believe it’s important?
It’s easy for us to get bogged down in daily life. If you have responsibilities to others – family, partner, employees, customers – the pressure increases.
And yet, the more people depend on you, the more important it is that you make sure you remain strong enough to do that.
So it’s not an optional extra for you to look after your health. It’s not responsible to allow yourself to become so exhausted you can’t have fun with the kids, or be fresh for that pitch. It’s not negotiable for you to ignore those pains that are your body’s way of saying, slow down. You need to believe that your need to stay healthy is crucial to the health and wellbeing of everyone around you.
Is it in your diary?
You need to give high priority to the time you need to keep yourself strong and safe. And if it’s not inked into your diary or your online calendar, it won’t have that priority.
It may mean something has to take a back seat. It may mean someone else has to take on more. It may mean other compromises that might be hard to take.
Once it’s in your diary, it means other things have to fit around it. It means you’ve committed, and you have to find a way to make it happen. Once it’s in your family diary, it means that everyone can see it, and puts it on an even footing with other people’s needs.
If you’ve never done that before, though, it can be surprisingly hard. So here’s a 15-minute exercise I use with my clients to help them start very, very small.
A 15-minute exercise to find time for yourself
- Decide what you most need to do for yourself. That might be a little bit of exercise. Calling a friend. Reading a book. Or just sitting still.
- Block off 15 minutes when you know you won’t be disturbed. Ideally try to find a time when you’re not exhausted – maybe a weekend.
- Set a timer so you don’t have to keep an eye on the clock.
- And just do it.
- When you’ve finished, just step back into your day.
It may feel a bit uncomfortable the first time. If it is, don’t worry. Try it again tomorrow, or in a few days. If you’re always doing things for other people, it can take a bit of adjustment to believe it’s ok to do something for yourself.
But if you can repeat it for a few days, you may start really noticing the benefits. Once you start realising that you feel better, you’ll almost certainly start feeling better able to cope with daily life – stronger and more energetic.
I’d love to know how you get on in the comments below.