As someone that enjoys writing and reading, I know how difficult it can be to fit those hobbies into the daily grind. With work, shopping, cleaning, dealing with family and just trying to keep my eyes open, finding time to do the things that I love becomes more and more challenging. How do you find time to read? Are there dedicated slots in your day for some ME-time?
This blog post is designed to encourage you to reflect on your timetable and consider making small adjustments so that you can do the things that you really want to do. Allowing time to read, write, be creative or just languish in the sun can be important, especially during pressured periods in your life. Making that time available can do wonders for your mental health too.
Here are my top five suggestions which should enable you to squeeze more fulfilling things into your timetable and stop you having to make excuses for not getting to do them. Let me know what you think of them in the comments.
1) Be more inflexible.
When people make extra demands on your time, this can affect the likelihood of you getting any time for yourself. Other people will always want a slice of your time and if you cave in to them every time, you will find that you end up sacrificing that much needed quality time which you might have spent doing a hobby or other enjoyable activity that you’ve been dying to do.
‘Can you just…?’ requests from family and friends can make you feel obliged to drop what you are doing and once more do something helpful for them. However, these time demands work both ways. It’s not unreasonable to turn it into, ‘Can I just have half an hour to do….? Then if you still haven’t managed to do it yourself, I’ll give you a hand.’ Give and take is very important and sometimes it is the only way to create personal space.
2) Use the resources available to you.
This really should be ‘make use of resources better’, because often you do duplicate tasks which can take up your time unnecessarily and just planning your time more efficiently can help you to find the time you need for YOU.
We all have things that we could do to make our lives much easier, but often we don’t plan ahead and this is why we get caught out and end up wasting valuable ME-time. Something as simple as a well planned shopping trip once a week (which could even be a supermarket delivery) can prevent multiple trips to the local shop throughout the week. So long as you’ve planned what you need to cook each day.
Having a timetable for chores and making sure that you don’t overcommit with appointments and catch-ups with friends and neighbours can help you to pave the way for more free time to do whatever it is that you really like doing.
3) Be strong.
Of course, when you have protected some time within your week to read, write or be creative in whatever form you wish, there is a temptation to treat that time as if it’s disposable, throwing it away at the first opportunity. Don’t! Let others know that you value this particular time and need space to enjoy the activity, giving it some value and authority.
Your half an hour of writing, for example, is just as important as your son’s guitar lesson or your mother’s yoga class. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
‘Mum. You’re only writing. Can you help me instead?’ is not good enough. Stand firm and look after that special time just as anyone else would.
4) Make better use of waiting time.
When waiting for an appointment, be it a Zoom meeting or a dentist checkup, there is no need to just sit there idly. Why not crack open that book, make some useful notes or do a few lines of that knitting you were wanting to get on with. Obviously, it would depend on what your preferred activity requires because you probably couldn’t get away with laying on the floor practising yoga in a busy doctor’s surgery but if your activity can be done in the space available, fill that void and make the most of any waiting time you come across.
5) Enjoy every moment!
If you do value your allocated time and give it some importance then make sure you spend it doing something that truly relaxes you. I wouldn’t consider doing something just because your best friend does it a good idea, on the whole. Your best friends may enjoy jogging but if you go running and get no pleasure out of it, you’re not going to enjoy the experience and it won’t boost your mood. Maybe you would much prefer doing a workout video in the privacy of your sitting room.
This is something that I experienced when my mates started doing couch-to-5K runs and I found the whole thing awkward and painful. After trying home workouts instead I found I felt less stressed about it and it made my ME-time fit in with what I felt comfortable doing. After all, ME-time has to be all about ME. Well YOU in this case.
I hope that these simple reflections help you to reflect upon your daily routine. Maybe there are manageable things that you can do in order to claim back some time for yourself and make sure that others understand how important that time is to you. We all need some ME-time otherwise our mental health can start to suffer. We can’t just spend all of our awake time being slaves to society.
If you have any thoughts about this, please share them in the comments below. Perhaps consider following my blog more of the same type of articles.