We're quick to make sure our kids have full schedules. It's no problem to squeeze in a work event or two. Running a few errands for a parent or neighbor isn't a big deal. And we're sure it's possible to say yes to just one more request from someone else.
Feeling needed and staying busy often keep us preoccupied and, possibly, happy with the lives we've chosen to lead. But have you ever had a day where you ran from one place to the next, ticking off your child's soccer game, a church fundraiser, your sister's wedding dress fitting and a work meeting on your to-do list? Take a look at that list again...where, exactly, did you squeeze in time for yourself?
We have many roles in life-spouse, parent, child, employee, friend-and with those roles come countless responsibilities. In the rush to meet everyone else's needs, we often forget the responsibility to take care of and make time for ourselves. When we forget to do that, we might feel momentary satisfaction for clearing our to-do list, but that is easily overwritten when we realize how frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and angry we feel in the long run.
So how can you make more time for yourself?
Start by stepping back from your current situation and consider the big picture. Think about the things that you want to spend more time doing. Perhaps you'd like to become a better cook, practice a musical instrument, take up a new gym regimen or catch up on the stack of books on your nightstand. Maybe you just want ten minutes a day to meditate.
Now that you know how you want to spend your personal time, you need to figure out how to carve that time out of your day. This may be the hardest part for some people because it may require saying no or learning to delegate tasks they've become comfortable handling themselves. While you're deciding where to find personal time, you might want to reevaluate some of the tasks you currently squeeze into your week and find a way to minimize or combine them. For example, if you currently stop by the grocery store twice a week, ask yourself if it would be possible to double up and do your shopping all at once. Not only would you save time buying groceries, but you get back the time you'd spend driving to and from the store as well.
Eliminating distractions will also help save your precious time. Avoid checking your email every ten minutes. Don't work at home. Turn off the television. And if there's something you need to get done, let your family know that you can't be distracted until the task is finished.
Now it's time to create a new schedule-with time for yourself built in. What are the essentials in your daily schedule? A full eight hours of sleep? An hour at the gym? Write those things in first, and don't negotiate with them. After that, create a reasonable to-do list for the week, and on that list, you must include personal time. Perhaps it's an hour on Tuesday for a painting lesson or even ten minutes a day with a good book. When you make your weekly list of things to do, don't overestimate what you can accomplish. Keep it reasonable, and reassess your goals every Friday while also prepping for the week ahead. Making the time to do this will start the following week off with a sense of accomplishment.
It is important to make time for everyone else in your life; this is how we maintain and develop our relationships with others. But in our pursuit to please the world, we often forget to care for ourselves. Committing to ourselves first is a surefire way to be happier, healthier and more helpful when it comes to giving our precious time away.