7 Ways to Find More Time For Yourself

I don’t know about you, but it seems like with all the stuff I have going on in my life, running a business, taking care of my clients, planning for future business (growing), taking care of my son and managing the day-to-day tasks of life (cleaning, groceries, cooking), I feel like there’s no “me” time at the end of the day. I put my own needs last.

There are two schools of thought on this: some people view you as a hero because you are essentially living your life in servitude, but the flip side is that it’s really easy to get burnt out because you are not taking care of yourself. And when you take care of yourself, says the other school of thought, you can take better care of others.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that I belong to the second school of thought, and I’m going to carve out a bit of “me” time (I’m not certain I do, but I’m willing to give it a try!).

A couple weeks back, I took an Instructional Skills Course at BCIT (I’m teaching a course there), and one of my colleagues in the class, Susan Howard, who is a development consultant at The Cultch, did a presentation entitled 7 Ways to Find More Time For Yourself. I took careful notes and asked if I could share them with you.

1. Block off your time. In order to make this work, you have to, in essence, make an appointment with yourself. And this appointment has to be sacred: there can be no interruptions, and you can’t postpone it for ’emergencies’ or whatever.

2. Experiment with what time works best. It might be on the weekend or on a weeknight so your partner can watch the kids. Or it might be during the week when the kids are at school and other adults are at work. Try a bunch of different times and see what one works best for you.

3. Turn off the TV. I’m not putting down TV. It’s great for relaxing, and we all have our favorite shows. But try to think about this time along the lines of what Julia Cameron might call an Artist Date: get out of the house and go for a walk, go to yoga, an art gallery or museum, a restaurant or a movie.

4. Turn of email/Cel phone: Okay, for me, this is the hardest one. A little alarm goes off in my head when I haven’t checked my email in a while. I know, I sound like an addict, but my business is build on email, which is a good reason for me to really take a break from it. Not answering your cel phone is also great, because if you answer it, it will likely cut down on your “me” time.

5. Just say No! This is my 2011 New Year’s Goal. And is really hard. This just simply means, once you book your time, you say no to everything else. Good luck.

6. Limit your to-do list: There is a school of thought that says your to-do list should be between 3-5 items. Mine is usually a page long. The truth is, you probably won’t make it through everything you have to do, because things come up–you’ll get an email with an immediate request, things like that. A short to-do list makes it easier for you to feel like a success, and less like a failure because you didn’t get everything done.

7. Delegate. Get your partner to take on some of the cleaning or childcare or cooking. Hire someone to clean your house. Get your kids into a carpool so you don’t have to drive them to school every day. This is about letting go of some control, folks…. a tall order, but really good for your sanity.

Susan K.E. Howard has more than 20 years experience in non-profit leadership across the performing arts in marketing & communications, fund development and executive management.

Trained as a classical ballet dancer at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Susan turned her passion for the arts to non-profit income development and has held leadership positions in marketing, fund development and executive management with a wide variety of arts organizations across Canada in dance, theatre, opera, and symphonic music – the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Opera Company, Ballet British Columbia, Arts Club Theatre Company, Pacific Opera Victoria and Vancouver East Cultural Centre, among others. Early in her career, she won a large Canada Council arts administration training grant and mentored with fundraising and marketing staff in New York City at The Joffrey Ballet over a 16-month period.

Susan has a special interest in integrated marketing and development programs for non-profits. A graduate of Simon Fraser University with a degree in business and liberal studies, Susan also holds a diploma in Performing Arts Management and has been a development consultant at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre since August 2010. She teaches Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations at BCIT.

Married with two children, Susan enjoys reading, cooking, film, yoga, aerobics and attending as many dance, theatre, music and opera performances as possible.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 6

  1. And my favorite, take advantage of found time.

    For example, my Walks With Dave videos were born out of having to walk to the the next train station during construction. Normally, this would have been just a 15 minute walk. It became a walk and found tome to create content.

    If you really look there are always places you can find time.

  2. Like Dave, I have exploited found time: I use the train ride to / from Sing Sing Correctional Facility to do my rehearsal preparation and/or to work on the other plays I have in pre-production. Thanks for sharing this / for the reminder, Rebecca!

  3. I do block out time quite literally – right now if I look at my blackberry I have an appointment from 5:00 – 11:00 called NOTHING. I have to block it off as if the time is free, it gets booked. I try to have one NOTHING night a week.

    I also try to remember/remind that busyness is NOT a contest -“I was at work til nine at night!” “Yeah? I didn’t sit down to dinner til 11:30!” “I’ve never eaten lunch!” I’m so BUSYBUSYBUSY! Uh, great – you – win?

    And I became a member of school of thought number 2 when someone reminded me of the pre-flight announcement on a plane – you need to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs.

    I meant to post this yesterday – and then I got BUSY! 🙂

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