You may have noticed the lack of posts over the past few months. I haven’t left, just became very busy with holidays, school breaks, birthdays, and a new job. But as I settle into my routine, so now I must learn to carve out time for the thing that has always brought me so much joy – writing.
We all receive 24 hours in a day; if we’re lucky 6-8 hours of that is spent sleeping, but what of the other 16 or so hours that we have? What fills that in?
For most, it is work or even school, both seem to take up the same amount of time for preparation and time. So let’s assume everyone is working an 8 hour day for the purpose of simplicity, though I know many work far longer than that. Most need a couple of hours to prepare for work and then commuting, which I’m going to block out an hour for that, though I know some travel as many as 2 hours one way. So now we have taken 11 hours from our 16 leaving us with a mere 5 HOURS! to do something.
5 hours…alright, maybe that will allow for a little time to do something that is close to our hearts, relax, spend time with family, read a book…you get the idea. Wrong…you forgot to eat. So we will ignore both breakfast and lunch as those are calculated into work hours and prep hours, but dinner, well, that’s on this free time. Even the simplest of meals takes time to fix and there’s always the clean up, and let’s not forget the actual time for eating. Whether you go out to eat or stay in, time is used. I’m going to be conservative and say about an hour for dinner. Now the clean up, add in a few household chores like laundry or sweeping, after all, the house doesn’t clean itself, let’s take another hour. That leaves us with a grand total of 3 hours to do something enjoyable.
One can hope they will be enjoyable at the least.
Those 3 hours are often filled up with odd things – social media, phone calls, paying bills, taking care of animals, running errands, going to practices, helping with homework, bathing…the list is endless. Is it any wonder that we feel exhausted, stretched to our breaking points, and empty at the end of a day?
By now, if not before, you’re probably wondering why I have said all of this? Honestly, I’m asking myself that question too, because when I originally sat down to write, I had planned on talking about my new job or something of that sorts. I say all this because we often have unreal expectations of what we can accomplish in a day but the truth is our list is often longer than the time afforded us. We need to learn to be gentle with ourselves instead of beating ourself up when we did not accomplish all we hoped to do in a single day.
This is a nice tidy scenario I have laid out here, but we all know that life is anything but tidy. There are always unexpected things popping up that demand our attention. It is impossible to do it all in one day. For your health and happiness, carving out a little time for yourself and your hobbies is just as important as eating; it provides nourishment to your spirit and mind which makes for a stronger you. So stop pushing aside your “you time” and make it a part of the day just like dinner is.
Sometimes dinner is just a crappy $5 pizza, but sometimes it’s a grilled steak. Likewise, sometimes we only get a few minutes to enjoy a little time for ourselves, and sometimes we get a whole day. The important thing is that you do it and that you make it count. If I eat on the run my brain doesn’t process that I am eating and thus a few minutes later I still feel hungry. Same goes for your restoration time. If you read a few pages of a book while standing in the checkout line at the supermarket, chances are, you’ll not remember any of it or truly appreciate the words on the page. Be present in the moment, both with tasks and relaxation and you may discover that you get more out of both. Just as you eat without feeling guilty, so you should enjoy an activity without guilt.
So fine, we now know that we have very little time to do all the things on our list, so how do we ensure some small bits of time for things we enjoy? In essence, where do we find the time? We make time for the things that are important to us and therefore we need to realize that our self is important. When we prioritize ourselves, it happens.
Maybe you have too much clutter in your life – do the kids really need to be involved in three sports? Do I have to participate in every parent involvement day? It takes close scrutinizing and some soul searching with eyes wide open to see what is robbing you of your time and what is really pertinent on the larger scheme of things. It is NOT being selfish to take care of your health and wellbeing, that’s being smart.
For me, to ensure I take time for myself, I get up a little earlier, move my phone out of easy reach to avoid the temptation of waisting time, and I just do whatever I enjoy, be it watching a favorite show on Netflix, sipping coffee and reading, or finally making myself do some writing. This sets the tone for the day, allowing me to be more productive and in good spirits for the challenges ahead. There’s bigger things I still want to do for myself – like exercise – and I will find time for that as well when I am motivated to do so. Right now, that feels like another demand instead of “me time.” But whatever it is you enjoy, want to do, give yourself at least thirty minutes to an hour to do it – guilt free.
Let me know how it goes, how you find time for the things you enjoy, or ask for help in coming up with solutions to gain a little time. We are all just trying to get through this life with a little bit of sanity intact, so let’s do it together.
Here’s some more reading material and tips on the subject that I hope you will not find is a waste of time to read. 🙂