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.
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.
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.
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.
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.