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Five Hints to Reclaim Time for Yourself

Five Hints to Reclaim Time for Yourself
Make time for yourself

Sometimes it seems like your life just isn’t your own anymore – work, family, and other obligations swallow it up to such an extent that we often look back and wonder where all the time went! No wonder, then, that many of us feel as if life is just passing us by, and we can do no more than helplessly watch. However, with these tips and a little willpower, you can create time to center yourself and face the world with renewed enthusiasm.

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Use your commute time

The most obvious opportunity to create time for yourself is the commute to work. Of course, it’s hardly the ideal conditions for some quality time — you either have both hands clamped to the steering wheel, or are crammed shoulder to shoulder on a bus or train! There’s only one thing that can be said in situations like this — God bless the iPod: an inspiring audio book, meditative visualization or piece of music can be just the thing to leave you walking into work energised and refreshed. However, even if you don’t have anything to listen to, you can still turn the time to your advantage. Try a spot of ‘observing the world’ – letting your mind go absolutely still, and seeing everything and everybody around you as it really is, without your mind to filter it. A few minutes of looking at life this way each day can really bring your own inner being to the fore, and lead to a new and more empathetic understanding of the world around you.

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Take some time between tasks

Often we rush into a new task still thinking about the task we have just completed, which affects our productivity as our mental processes are split between two things at the same time. Instead, why not take a conscious pause in between one task and the next? Use the time — it could be as short as a minute — to reaffirm to yourself what is truly important (this can be very easily lost running from one event to another). For a few seconds, feel that you are clearing all the mental chattering connected to what you were just doing, and creating an empty space of peace and silence at the core of your being. Then at the end of this quiet moment you can direct all your attention to the next task you are about to perform.

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Mornings are golden

The best time to choose for yourself is early morning — the atmosphere is calmer and more peaceful, and there is almost zero possibility of a phone call or some other such distraction interrupting you. Having time for yourself as soon as you wake up also makes you more centred as you approach the day’s multifarious tasks — a little like putting money in the bank. Also, many hobbies, like jogging or meditation, are much easier and more enjoyable when done before the outside world really kicks into gear. If at all possible, try and have that time before breakfast — mealtimes have a funny way of eating (pardon the pun) into any time you had planned afterwards.

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Make sure your time stays your time

Today’s fluid communication culture often means that we are often interrupted from what we are doing by a call and pulled into yet more comings and goings. The company mobile or Blackberry can seem like a godsend when you first get it, and it is often only a few months later that you notice your working hours have been creeping upwards because your boss is always in touch with you to see if that important project has been delivered yet. If you truly want your time to be exactly that, then hit the off button, and make any other arrangements you need so that no-one will disturb you.

When you do get time to yourself, use it!

Often when we do get a much needed respite from life, we whoop for joy and then aimlessly flop on the couch and reach for the remote. However relaxing that may be, it does nothing to address the reason why we need the time in the first place — to reconnect with ourselves amidst this turbulent world. Using the time to engage in creative or athletic pursuits that help us grow as a person gives us a lasting sense of joy and fulfillment, which will further inspire us to clear room in our lives for growth and self-discovery. How we use the time we do get has a big bearing on whether we will actively seek to create that time in future.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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