8 great ways to make more time for yourself
Is it possible to make more time for yourself? Yes. Why? Because everyone needs time for themselves. Time to relax, to reflect, to pursue their hobbies and passions.
Even if it seems impossible, there are ways to make more time for yourself.
‘Me Time’ actually makes us more productive, minimizes stress, strengthens our relationships, and reboots our brains.
“Simplifying your life can create extra time in your day,” says life trainer Stephen Yates.
“Doing everything at once actually makes you less efficient and tasks can take longer,” he says.
Multi-tasking can also overload your brain, leading to stress, forgetfulness, and a weak immune system.
There is no need to live like this – with a bit of re-organization, you can free up enough time to relax, do the things you want to do.
You’ll feel less stressed and pressurized which will help boost your mental and physical well being.
How To Make More Time For Yourself
1. Step Back (For a Second)
Figure out why you want more free time. “You can’t win a game you haven’t defined,” says David Allen, a productivity expert and the author of best-seller Getting Things Done.
You’ll be more motivated to change if you have a specific goal.
Make a wish list. Write down all the activities that you long to do more of―whether they’re things that make you happy, relaxed, sane(r), or all three.
Rank the items in order of importance to you, then pick one or two to focus on. (Once you get the hang of this system, you can address the rest.)
Now write down how you spend your time. If it’s all one make-lunch-carpool-run-around-like-crazy blur, keep a detailed diary for a few days.
You might be surprised by how little time you spend doing things you love most. The key question to keep asking is, “Are you spending your time on the right things?“
2. Give Up What You Can
Consider this: Devoting more time to what you love can help you get more done overall.
Neil Fiore, Ph.D., a psychologist in Berkeley, California, explains, “Research shows that to be productive and creative, you must make time for recreation and relaxation. Trying to skimp on them hurts your motivation and often leads you to procrastinate.”
Plus, being a little selfish will keep you from becoming burned out or cranky. To find ways to free up time, take a look at your list of current activities, and ask yourself four questions:
- What can I delegate?
OK, so maybe your 11-year-old can’t load the dishwasher quite as well as you can. Hand over that task and you’ve got 10 minutes to spend on something more fulfilling.
The fact that you’re teaching your child responsibility―with, yes, an occasional eye roll―is a bonus. If you’ve reflexively been handling most of the household duties, turn some of them over to your spouse.
Try similar strategies at work: Give junior staffers assignments that stretch their capabilities rather than doing the job yourself.
- What can I outsource?
Housecleaning is an obvious answer but also think about things like tutoring for your kids. Before you decide you can’t afford this, scrutinize your spending. Chances are, there’s a way to reallocate your resources.
If you need more convincing, calculate what your time is worth, says time-management expert Tim Ferriss.
To get your “hourly rate,” cut the last three zeros off your annual salary, then halve that number. So if you make $60,000 a year, your hourly rate is $30.
“If it takes you three hours to clean the house each week, that’s $90 worth of your time,” he says.
- What can I do less well (at least sometimes)?
When something you’re working on is good enough, stop.
It’s a waste of time to do everything perfectly, such as polishing the underside of the banister. Instead, focus on doing the important things adequately.
- What distractions can I limit, if not eliminate?
- Shut the door. Seriously. If you have work to do, make it clear that you need to be left alone.
- At work, check your e-mail only twice a day―at noon and at 4 p.m. “I’ve found those are the times when you’re most likely to have responses to your previously sent e-mails,” says Ferriss. And use the auto-respond feature: When you’re swamped, direct e-mailers to an assistant or, with his or her permission, a colleague.
- At home, give your phone a rest.
- As for TV, watch an episode of a show you love, then turn off the set. The average American spends 2.4 hours a day in front of the tube, but that investment yields sparse rewards.
Studies show that watching TV doesn’t make people nearly as happy as activities that engage them, like playing tennis, taking a walk, and eating with family.
3. Reschedule Your Schedule
Now that you’ve freed up precious minutes, decide how you want to spend your energy.
Establish one or two “non-negotiables” and work your schedule around them.
For example, eight hours of sleep a night, two hours of exercise a week, or one night out for fun.
Create your daily to-do list on an index card. “The card forces you to focus on what’s important,” says Ferriss. (If you prefer to think in weeks, fill out five cards.)
Write down only what you can realistically accomplish in a day―three to five items.
Then make sure at least one item from the top of your wish list is part of your weekly plan. Yes, that means writing in “30 minutes on the hammock with my book.”
Schedule a quick and brainless task first. This lets you cross off something right away and start the day feeling accomplished.
Schedule your most onerous task second. Whether it’s a difficult conversation with a friend or a tedious e-mail to a colleague, plan to get it over with next.
Challenge the list. “Sometimes all it takes to keep your sanity is to drop just one thing,” says Burton. Ask yourself: “What item here least reflects what matters most to me?”
Reassess every Friday. Gina Trapani, an editor of Lifehacker.com, a website dedicated to time-saving technology tips, is a huge fan of this approach.
On Friday afternoons, she sets aside a half hour to go through what she accomplished, personally and professionally, and to map out the next week.
(Even a five-minute version of her ritual can do the trick.) “This helps me remember my priorities,” says Trapani.
This also reminds her that it’s impossible to do everything. “When you’re realistic about how much you can do in a day,” she says, “you’re so much happier.” And isn’t that the point?
4. Say No (It’s Okay, We Promise)
It is okay to say no. Your time is valuable, and it should be spent doing things that bring your life value.
It’s okay if you don’t feel like going to that brunch with the other moms. It’s okay if you get invited out, but what you need is some quiet time at home in yoga pants.
And it’s okay if your friend asked you to help them move but you do not have the time.
Don’t make yourself feel guilty for saying no. You can also always offer help in another form, such as saying “I’m sorry I can’t help you move next week, but I can come over for a few hours and help you pack this week.”
When turning down an invite, you can politely decline but say something like “I’m sorry I can’t make your party. Let me send you over a nice bottle of wine for it, though.”
Of course, that is optional and a simple “I can’t, I’m sorry” will do just as well.
This seems obvious, but I still feel it should be reiterated.
It’s one thing to find ways to make more time for yourself, but it’s another thing to utilize that time to its full advantage.
Learn to truly relax. For me, yoga and meditation have completely changed my life.
Even if yoga or meditation isn’t for you, breathing exercises learned in these practices can be incredibly helpful for optimal relaxation.
And remember, meditation can come in many forms, from gardening to cooking.
What makes you feel truly relaxed? The answer to that question. Then: do more of that.
6. Take a Little Time Each Day
You have 5 minutes, right? Find ways to make more time for yourself by devoting 5 minutes a day to doing something you love that brings you value and joy.
Just 5 minutes. Even if you have the craziest schedule imaginable, that can still be done.
Spend 5 minutes listening to a song, writing a poem, going on a walk, or meditating in a quiet room.
7. Get Creative
Creativity comes in many forms. Cooking, writing, painting, gardening, dancing, crafting.
No matter the medium, the result is the same. The benefits of expressing and engaging in something creative has been widely studied and shown to decrease stress and anxiety, promote joy, and aid in healing.
Music, for example, has been scientifically shown to improve stress by calming neural activity in the brain.
Music Therapy is used to address and heal both emotional and physical issues with great success.
If you don’t think of yourself as a ‘creative person,’ that’s okay. You don’t have to be good at painting or playing the guitar.
There are so many forms of creativity, and what is more important is the fact that you’re doing it (and enjoying it, too).
Your drawing doesn’t have to be hung in a museum. Adult Coloring Books, for example, are just as fun.
Reflect, and reconnect. Reconnect with that passion or hobby of yours you haven’t had the time to do anymore.
Dust off that old guitar or take that motorcycle out of storage. Reconnect with nature. Listen to that album you love from your favorite band.
Just do more of the things that make you feel like you.
Final words for how to find time for yourself
Making time for yourself can change your life in a good way. By taking time to relax, re-charge, and stay in the moment you are changing the way you see life. Every positive change is good and now it is time to take care of yourself.