We have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks in a year and who knows how many years in our lifetime. Even with all that time, we could all use one more hour in the day or even one more day in the week. But if we had that extra hour or day, what would we do with it? We’d fill it up and wish for another. Stop wishing! Take control of your time and give some to yourself.
After all, taking time to ourselves is just as important as sleep, says Nick Kontras, certified business coach and CEO of ActionCOACH TriState Ohio, a Cincinnati-based business coaching firm. Think about it: why do we need sleep? We need some shutdown time to reboot our bodies. Why do we need some “me time?” To reboot our minds and bodies.
Why We Should be a Priority in Our Lives
“Lack of time for ourselves often leads to feeling frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and out of balance,” according to LifeOrganizers.com. And when those nasty side effects take over, we cannot possibly give it our all to the other priorities in our lives. So to really make sure we take care or our priorities, we need to put ourselves on the list.
But others aside, we all need to reap the benefits for ourselves. Get rid of the guilt. Taking time to yourself is not being lazy or selfish. Instead, Kontras calls daily personal time “absolutely critical” toward recharging, regrouping and feeling a sense of purpose, a feeling we all deserve.
Some of the best reasons for why we should put ourselves as a priority, however, are the consequences for if we fail to do so. From depression to a complete breakdown, the buildup of a lack of personal time can wreak havoc on our emotional lives, which can lead to destruction in our personal lives, business lives, you name it.
Determining Our New Priority List
The first step toward a new and improved life is to re-think your priorities. Take everything else out of the picture for a second and just think about yourself. What do you enjoy? What helps you relieve stress? What allows you to express yourself? Make a list of answers to these questions. The answers do not have to be definite. They can be possibilities. You may never have held a paintbrush in your hand, but you have always wanted to test the waters of watercolors. Jot it down.
Organize the list into two sections: sprints and runs. The sprints should be activities that can be accomplished in periods of 15 minutes to an hour. The entire activity does not have to be completed in one period, but you will be able to chisel away toward success in short spurts. Sprints can be anything from reading The Da Vinci Code you still haven‚Äôt gotten around to reading to working a jigsaw puzzle to taking a candle-lit bubble bath.
Runs should be activities that take a bit longer or cannot be easily broken into short periods. This section would include checking out the shops in Metamora, Ind. or starting your own garden or treating yourself to a day at the spa.
Developing a “Default Diary”
If you have a large vase and a bunch of rocks, pebbles, sand and water, you need to prioritize the items in order to fit them into the vase, Kontras says. To maximize how much can fit in the vase, you need to start by putting the rocks in the vase and continue down the list so that each additional item can work its way into the cracks left by the previous, larger objects.
In the same way, Kontras says, we must create a “default diary” for our lives. A default diary is a weekly template that is made up of blocks of time. The rocks of our lives are the major events and top priorities in our lives, so these are the first to be blocked out in our default diary. Rocks also include events that are at specific times, such as your kid‚Äôs soccer game or your weekly Bible study meeting.
Once you schedule the rocks into your default diary, you can schedule the less major events (pebbles) and leave the minor events (sand and water) to fill in as the week progresses.
Pencil Yourself in
Along with the other rocks and pebbles, make sure you physically put yourself in the schedule. Don’t just see an opening and expect to take time for yourself if something else doesn’t come up because something else will come up. In the event that something legitimately important comes up, however, you can erase your name as long as you pencil your name right back in somewhere else.
Schedule time for yourself a minimum of 15 minutes every day, Kontras says. (These are the scheduling blocks when you can complete your “sprint” activities.) And be realistic about your scheduling. If you plan to have 30 minutes of “me time” but those 30 minutes start the minute you clock out, by the time you walk to your car, wait in traffic, pick up an ingredient for dinner, and arrive home, your personal time is over. Schedule padding into your default diary in case something runs over and plan on “event change” times to go from one activity to another.
Besides your daily personal time allotment, set aside a day every month to be your day. It does not have to be the entire day, but it should be a major chunk of it. These are the days when you can complete your “run” activities.
Life is always easier when you have somebody with whom to share, so why not find a girlfriend who wants to put herself first sometimes, too.
Set up rules with each other to better ensure that you will each take time for yourself. Just like your bills are due every month, you should set up a monthly day where your personal day is due. If you do not take your personal day by that time, your partner (depending on what you agree to) can have the right to cancel previous engagements or charge you a late fee. Be creative with your consequences, but make sure to make them be negative consequences so that you have an incentive to follow through with your “me time.”