You’ve probably looked at your schedule and asked yourself, “How am I going to squeeze time in to do that?” Or you’ve been wanting to take time for yourself but have been putting it off and thinking, “I’ll find time later to do that. I’ve just got too much on my plate right now.”
Somewhere in our adulting days, we’ve postponed what we’d like to do for ourselves and our enjoyment to make way for careers, responsibilities, social events, life administrative tasks, other people and pretty much the rest of the world. We put many other things up there on our priority list, and when and if there’s time, we’ll finally get to us.
Think about it, when was the last time you did something for yourself? Like just for yourself. Something you find joy doing, something you could immerse yourself and get lost in or simply something that relaxes you.
If you’re having a hard time recalling that specific time, OK it’s time to put down all that you’re carrying right now for a moment and pause. Prioritising time for yourself is all about keeping you healthy, happy and sane against a world that’s constantly telling us to keep hustling and do more.
I say enough. It’s high time we resist.
Here are three starting questions to get you started.
1.What is important about taking time for yourself?
Knowing your motivation and what it means for you to do it, will help you to get excited, stay focused and basically know how much time you want to commit. Most people know they want to start making time for themselves but they are vague or wishy-washy about it or unsure what they want to do. If you don’t know why it’s important for you to take time for yourself, it’s harder to get started and make it a priority in your life.
Start with listing what you’d like to do for yourself within the week to help you rest, play and wind down. It can be anything – exercise, work on side projects, engage with your hobby (or a new one you’ve been wanting to try!) or simply just rest. List it all out, so you can get clarity on the things you want to see yourself doing or trying.
Now pick one (you can pick more when you’ve gotten a hang of it). Take a micro-step by starting out with 10 minutes. You might not get a LOT done in 10 minutes and that’s fine. Remember this is a starting point. It’s like training for a marathon. Before attempting one, you’ll want to start running for a mile and build up from there. Over time, you’ll start building onto that 10 minutes.
If you think 10 minutes is too easy, you’re right. Taking time for yourself should really be THAT easy.
2. What tasks can you let go during the week?
A lot of folks pick up tasks and chores with the thinking that (1) ‘I’ll do it faster’ (2) ‘I’m the one who knows how to do it’ and (3) ‘It’s just how things are.’ I have this mindset quite a bit myself.
Your spouse/partner might not do the households chores faster than you (I know I know… hold that eye roll and exasperated sigh) but think about it, what’s the hurry if it means you can get 30 minutes for yourself. Practice delegating at home and in the office. Find one task you can let go off and ask your spouse/partner to do it.
If you feel it’s hard to delegate in the workspace, start with the small tasks. This is a great opportunity to give space for your staff to learn, build their capacity and let them grow in their role. There may be mistakes as they undertake more responsibilities, and it may take some guidance but it has to start somewhere. And you’ll reap the benefits if you start now. Most importantly, learn to let go of the mindset that you’re the only one who can do the work. We all know this is not entirely true.
If you’re having trouble letting go, take a step back and ask yourself what about letting go concerns you? And how do you know these concerns to be true? The answer might not appear right away but keep probing. There may be deeper issues that are holding you back that you might want to look into. Or reassurances you feel you need so you can start letting go of tasks.
By understanding what your core concerns are, you can start building (baby) steps to address them.
3. What can you try this week?
If you’ve been craving time for yourself, you have to start somewhere and give it a try. Too many folks feel like they simply can’t find the time or can’t keep to the routine so they give up. Or for some others, they feel bad, guilty or not in control so they step in again and fill their time with chores they could have delegated. A lot of folks internalize guilt and shame simply just for taking time for themselves.
Growing up in an Asian household, I certainly didn’t see my mother making special time for herself. So as an adult, I did feel a twang of guilt sometimes when I take time for me. But I know I need it to stay sane, healthy and thrive especially in a world that demands much of my attention and energy.
So I keep showing up and doing it bit by bit. Rome was not built in a day. The same goes for habits and lifestyle changes like learning to carve out time for yourself. You’re not expected to have your routine perfected by the first try. Don’t let social media fool you on that one with their shiny curated pictures.
If you’re having difficulty carving out time for yourself over the weekend, try again today, and tomorrow and the day after. Give yourself time to cultivate a routine and more time to get used to it. In fact, at times, give yourself permission to fail and try again.
So what can you try this week? Start with the things you can do pretty easily. There’s no need to jump straight and pick a new hobby. Like if you want quiet time to yourself, why not do it on the way home from work? Or taking your lunch break and enjoying it without the chatter or distractions of the phone? Once you’ve gotten used to doing something (and likely seems effortless), move on to activities you want to try. This way, you’ll build ease and confidence as you keep trying out what works best for you.
A lot of people don’t make time for themselves because they either can’t find the time ( juggling 76+ things right now), or they are not used to the idea of it, to begin with. I got you there.
Here’s a suggestion: start super duper small like taking 10 to 15 minutes and see how that feels for you. For instance, instead of trying to find two hours of solid time during the week (great if you can!), try breaking that into chunks of 15 or 30 minutes over the course of your week. Or even smaller if that helps. Remember: it’s not the amount of time that’s important, it’s the consistency of carving out some time for yourself that truly matters.
Keep trying to find pockets of time for yourself. Indulge in a little you-time, whether catching up with a book, calling a friend or napping. Or taking a walk. Or daydreaming. Or simply pottering about the house, just chilling and listening to music.
Whatever rocks your boat, my friend. As long as it’s focused on you.