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Last Updated on December 24, 2019

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

  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

  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.

Synergy

  1. Two 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

  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.

Featured photo credit: John Canelis via unsplash.com

More by this author

K. Stone

The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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