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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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