Being driven to get things done is great. But if you’re one of those people who continually tells yourself there are only 24 hours in a day and that you must fill each and every one of them with something productive, there will come a point in time when burnout sets in.
Having the gumption to succeed is only beneficial to you if you balance it out with time for yourself. Failure to schedule downtime can make you overstressed, which can result in very real long-term health and psychological effects, including heart conditions, obesity, gastrointestinal problems and lessened immune function.
Scheduling time out for yourself is a good way to avoid the negative consequences that come from overdoing it. In short, having time out allows you to achieve better emotional, physical, and mental health.
If one of your goals for this year is to destress and make more time for yourself, read on to find out how to make it a priority.
Tips for adding more ‘you time’ into your schedule
The first part of scheduling time for yourself is to understand the importance of “you time”. Productivity expert David Allen says, “You can’t win a game you haven’t defined”. For this reason, it’s important to understand why you want time for yourself and the impact it will have. Having a specific goal will make you far more motivated to schedule downtime.
Scheduling time for yourself shouldn’t be that much of a challenge. If it is, then you’re already deeply overworked and better scheduling should be an immediate priority.
Here are a few good ways to start making time.
1. Establish the “non-negotiables”
One of the best ways to start rescheduling your time is to establish your non-negotiables and then work your schedule around them. Examples of non-negotiables could be: eight hours of sleep per night, story time with the kids, or your contracted work hours.
The beauty of establishing non-negotiables is that it redefines the idea of “doing it all”. Many people feel day-to-day pressure to fit everything in, and labelling your non-negotiables reduces this a little, giving you a much higher chance of succeeding.
2. Learn to delegate
Delegation is a beautiful word that you should get used to, if you haven’t already. To delegate means to entrust another person to do something normally assigned to yourself, freeing yourself up for more important tasks. The reality is that you can’t be everywhere at once, so delegation is the key to alleviating pressure. By defining project tasks, communicating them clearly, offering feedback and allowing for creativity, there should be no reason why you can’t delegate a task or two. You can delegate tasks from your home, community or work life – or all three.
3. Say no
You know that old family friend that has spent the last 12 months talking about her problems without giving anything back? Well guess what – it’s time to start saying no to regular meetups. Sure, she might require an ear every so often, but this doesn’t have to mean that you meet every fortnight for two hours. Limiting the activities that provide little value to yourself is one of the most effective methods of gaining time, not to mention energy. Saying no takes a little practice. This article shares a few strategies to make it easier.
4. Keep order
If you find yourself wasting time every day searching for keys, documents, school notes, your favourite blouse, or something to pack for lunch, it’s time to get organised. Set up a designated place for everything and you’ll be amazed at how much time you cut by not having to hunt things down.
5. Shop online
As lovely as it is to shop local, there’s no such thing as a quick duck to the shops. Physical shopping can be time consuming, and before you know it, you’ve spent two hours buying your son’s friend a birthday present and your husband a new tie. This could have been done in minutes via the Internet, giving you plenty of time to shop for yourself, read a book, or catch up on your favourite TV show.
6. Shop in bulk
If you prefer to shop in person to see what it is you’re buying (as well as support local traders), try shopping in bulk. Don’t just buy the gift for your son’s friend, shop for future birthday parties you might have too. You’re already in the toy department, so why go back in a few weeks time?
7. Make a list
Deciding how to spend your ‘you time’ can sometimes take some thinking, so limit thought time by having a list of your favourite downtime activities. Break these activities into time spent, so you know that if you have a set amount of time off you know what to do with your spare 15 minutes, half an hour, or hour. Pick the things that will see you most rejuvenated, relaxed and happy.
8. Limit email time
Responding to an email every time it pings can be surprisingly time-wasting. There’s no harm in checking your email every hour or so, but schedule your responding time to just once or twice a day. Not only can you better prioritise your responses, you’ll avoid constant distractions slowing you down and taking you away from what’s really important.
9. Play the five game
For every 55 minutes you spend doing something for others, give five minutes to yourself. Five minutes might not seem like a big deal, but if you spend 10 hours a day on others, that leaves 50 minutes of guilt-free time for you. That’s plenty of time for a soothing massage!
As you get used to this routine, why not start increasing it slightly from five to six minutes, then seven, eight and so on?
10. Breathe deeply
Before making your day’s to do list, take a deep breath and count to ten. Breathing deeply sends more oxygen to your brain, giving you more mental energy and clarity to make better decisions. You could even try meditation – a powerful stress relief technique.
11. Bank online
Standing in the queue at the bank for 20 minutes is hardly productive, so avoid this waste of time and bank online. Registering for internet banking lets you check your balance, transfer money, apply for an overdraft, pay bills, schedule payments and keep an eye on your credit card.
12. Give yourself a permission slip
Try this tactic: every morning before you leave the house, take a Post-it note and write yourself a permission slip that states it’s okay to take time for yourself. Place this slip in your pocket, your lunchbox or your purse – somewhere you will find it. It may seem silly, but it will help alleviate any guilt you might be feeling about your upcoming coffee date with your bestie.
13. Forget society’s demands
In a culture of overwhelm, over-commitment and over-scheduling, it’s easy to get caught up in society’s demands and the idea of “keeping up with the Jones’”. It’s important you separate other’s expectations from your own, or you’ll run the risk of always feeling like you’re failing. It doesn’t matter if Suzy next door managed to work a full day, go to the gym, do a grocery shop, make cakes for the school cake stall and still get a roast on the dinner table – Suzy’s not you! Set your own goals and forget about what others think.
Riding the seesaw
Have you ever shared a seesaw ride with someone and stayed exactly in the middle for more than a few seconds? Of course not! Balance, just like a seesaw, is constantly adjusting and it’s important you go with it. Never be surprised if you hit the perfect balance one day only to lose control the next. That’s just the way life works, so as long as your week includes a good amount of downtime, it doesn’t matter when that downtime is factored in.
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