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How to Find Time for Yourself

How to Find Time for Yourself

    Do you ever find yourself longing for some time for yourself? Many of us are so busy with work, school, and home life that often there is no time left over to do something that you enjoy. What follows are some ways to carve out that essential time you need to slow down, enjoy life, and rejuvenate yourself.

    Scheduling Time with Yourself

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    1. Evenings with Yourself. Try to save certain weeknights just for you. If others ask you to do things those nights, just tell them you have plans. Use the time for gardening, reading, exercise, thinking, or the ultimate luxury of doing nothing!
    2. Monthly Treat. Schedule a treat for yourself once a month. It could be on your lunch break, a weekend, or it could be leaving work early. Maybe you get a spa treatment, go see a movie, a haircut, play golf, or whatever treat you’re always thinking about but rarely get to. Schedule it in and it will happen!
    3. Buy Tickets in Advance. Sports, theater, concerts, or any other event you would enjoy. Schedule the plans with a friend later. Having the tickets already in hand will force you to make it happen!
    4. Leave Work on Time. Huh? Yes, many of us stay at work late on a regular basis. If this is you, make it a point to leave work exactly on time at least once a week, if not more. And then enjoy that time! Leave work at work.
    5. Join a Group. Here are some ideas of groups that can allow you some time away from work and home: singing group, gardening group, astronomy society, book club, quilting (or any other craft) circle, biking/walking/running/etc clubs, ski club, etc. What are you interested in? Strike while the iron is hot. Look up a club in your area today and join! If you can’t find a club, consider starting one yourself!
    6. Take an Adult Education Class. Take a fun class. If accounting is fun for you, then go ahead. If not, then think about some of these ideas: foreign language, photography, art, creative writing, or sports (kayaking, archery, golf, yoga). Belly-dancing anyone?
    7. Exercise. For busy people it can be difficult to make time for this. But, you know what? You can do it!! All you have to do is decide today and then make it a reality tomorrow. A new habit is started with just one step. Take that first step tomorrow. Walk for 20 minutes in the morning. And then build on that success daily. Vary how you spend that time. On some days use the time for thinking and daydreaming. Other days listen to motivational audio and on days you want a real boost, listen to your favorite music! Here are a couple travel audio books you could borrow from your local library that will take you on a journey to a foreign land while you are walking or jogging: “Holy Cow:An Indian Adventure” by Sarah MacDonald or “The Places in Between” by Rory Stewart. If you’ve been exercising for a while and you usually listen to music, try go without any input for a change. Instead, let your mind wander and expand.

    On the Go

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    1. Commute Via Public Transportation. If you can, ditch your car, and let someone else do the driving. Use that time to plan your day, do some reading, writing, creative thinking, or even meditation.
    2. Driving in Your Car. Make the most of this time. Vary how you spend that time. If you always listen to music, perhaps also try: educational radio (NPR), positive audio tapes (suggestion: “Follow Your Heart” by Andrew Matthews) or even totally quiet time. Use that quiet time for brain storming. Either think in your head or even talk your ideas out loud. Bring a voice recorder. You could write a book via voice recorder over time.
    3. Waiting in the Car. If you find that you have a certain amount of “waiting time” in your life, change how you perceive it. Instead of “waiting time” you can instantly change it into “me time” by bringing along reading, writing, or entertainment items. Or if you find yourself waiting and you don’t have any of these things use the time for creative thinking about your life or try some meditation.

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    1. 2 Birds, One Stone. Look for ideas where you can fit in time for you within things you need to do already or that will have multiple benefits. See the ideas below to give you an idea.
    2. Walk to Work. This is a a great one because you’re accomplishing many things at once. You’re getting exercise, you have time to think or enjoy music/audio, and you’re helping to save the environment.
    3. Arrive Early. Any appointment that you have, plan to arrive 15-30 minutes early. Then use this time for you: reading, writing, meditation, relaxation, thinking, whatever.
    4. Volunteering. There are so many benefits with this. You make a difference for others, you escape work and personal worries, and you grow as a person. If you could help one organization or group, which would it be? OK, now go ahead and Google them and find out how you can help – even if it’s just once a year.
    5. Side Job. Find a side job at which you can make money, but that will also allow you to do something you love. Some ideas: coaching, teaching a class (art, writing, sport, hobby, anything else you know well), or training others (what special skills do you have that you could share with others? singing, windsurfing, math?)
    6. Lunch Alone. Try sneaking away for a quiet lunch alone on a park bench or even in your car. Enjoy some quiet time with no one to talk to and no audio inputs.

    Time Away from Kids

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    1. Organize “Mom’s Morning Out” Circle. If you have a friend or group of friends, you could arrange to share babysitting services a few times a month so that others in the group get some time alone.
    2. Babysitters. Make a plan to have a babysitter that you trust watch your children once a month or once a week so that you can get some time for yourself. The key here is to take action and make it happen. If you want more time for yourself, you can get it. Just don’t be afraid to ask.
    3. Gym with Babysitting Service. Find a gym that offers childcare so that you can take a yoga class, do some strength training, or even work with a personal trainer. Make sure you fully research the safety of their childcare program first though. Get some references.

    What are your secrets for finding time for yourself? Please share in the comments below!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are 25 Tips to Become More Productive and Happy at Work, How to Write a Book in 60 Days or Less, Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?, and 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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