I used to live in a constant state of overwhelm. Balance was an elusive idea I was sure Instagram influencers were faking. Then I got critical about how I actually spent my time and discovered some creative ways to rearrange my life.
The majority of you struggle to get in enough “you” time each week. It can feel impossible to juggle work, family, friends, and the dog with your own self-care needs. These creative time management tips will change your life.
Here are my tried and true ways to carve out more time for self-care:
1. Stop Watching TV
You might think Netflix is relaxing escapism, but TV will never leave you feeling recharged and refreshed the way a non-screen activity will. Choose activities that really feed your soul and aren’t just a way to tune out and disconnect. TV is a huge time suck taking up hours of your week that could be spent learning a new skill, reading that pile of books, exercising, meditating, or getting more sleep.
2. Put Your Phone Down
Get an app-blocker like AppBlock and put hard limits on your phone use. Arrange your settings so you cannot access social media or news apps (or however you’re draining yourself) between 9pm-8am, for example. This one app is responsible for my successful 10:00pm bedtime on weeknights.
3. Be a Smart Multi-Tasker
4. Outsource Mundane Tasks
Consider what an hour of your time is worth. What do you charge for an hour of work? Now assess all the tasks you dislike, which can be outsourced. There’s a good chance you can pay someone less than your hourly rate to help you with things like house cleaning, yard work, errands, dog walking, etc. to free up time for YOU.
You don’t need to be rich to hire help. You’ll be amazed how much more more relaxed and creative you become when you stop trying to do everything yourself. Plus, you’re supporting your local economy.
5. Put You-Time on the Calendar
Schedule in self-care appointments like acupuncture, massage, meditation, journaling, workouts, etc. the same way you schedule work meetings. Every month I go through my calendar and book acupuncture, meditation time, nature time and workouts. I pick evenings to keep free of social plans and make sure I have some unscheduled downtime every weekend. Be proactive before other obligations eat up your time. Then have the strength to say no to other plans and prioritize YOU.
You can always be flexible and adapt to how you feel in the moment, but putting something on the calendar is the first step to making it a priority.
6. Food Prep
Choose one or two nights a week and block off a couple of hours to prepare big batches of food. Chop all the veggies in your fridge and throw them onto baking sheets to roast. Grill a bunch of chicken. Prep egg muffins for the whole week. Make large batches of rice, quinoa, soup, chile, etc in the crockpot and instant pot. Wash and prep fruits/veggies for snacking. Store everything in pyrex glass containers in the fridge or freezer. This will save you so much cooking time each week, and help you eat more healthfully and consistently. This activity in itself is a form of self-care!
7. Rearrange Your Work Schedule
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and ask for what you need at work. Can you work from home a few days a week to save on commute time? Working from home would allow you to use the time spent commuting to meditate, make a healthy breakfast, get a workout in, or get an extra 30 minutes of sleep.
Can you take 2 hours off for lunch and stay an hour later? Maybe this allows you to get a lunchtime massage or acupuncture session once a week, or workout midday when you have more energy.
Can you request a stand-up desk? Moving more at work will help you feel more energized so that you are more efficient and accomplish more in less time. Get creative about where you waste time at work and make suggestions for how to use this time for YOU. Can you sneak in an office floor meditation twice a day? I’ll bet you can. Can you listen to something inspiring or educational while you do mindless busy work?
8. Relationship Boundaries
Take an inventory of everyone you spend time with on a monthly basis. How do you feel after these interactions? Are there relationships you’re lukewarm about? Do you have friend dates that feel like obligations? Do you dread getting together with your in-laws?
Start putting real boundaries around your time and saying no to social engagements that drain you. This requires you to be able to tolerate people being disappointed or annoyed with you. Family members are especially skilled and pushing the guilt buttons. I recommend finding a great talk therapist if this is an edge for you. You have precious limited time, don’t waste it on people you think you “should” spend time with. Spend time with people you genuinely love and want to see.
9. Money Vs. Time Reality Check
Get honest with yourself about what’s really important to you. Do you yearn for more freedom, yet choose to work sixty-hour weeks because you want to make a certain income? That’s called misalignment. How much money do you actually need to feel secure and have your needs met? At what point is more work for more income actually diminishing your quality of life?
Many of us make the mistake of striving for more success at the expense of our emotional health. How do you want to feel? Alive, happy, purposeful, peaceful? Are you spending your resources on material goods or freedom? Nicer cars or travel? Be conscious of your actions aligning with your longing and your true values.
Are productivity and success tied up with your identity and self-worth? This is a common reason we overwork and burn ourselves out.
10. Tackle Your Addictions
We all have vices. Whether you overuse substances or activities, addictions are huge time-sucks that rob us of time we could spend doing something truly nourishing. You might be addicted to gossip, exercise, snacking, online shopping, picking your face, finishing a TV series, or fighting with your significant other. Whatever it is, shine some light on it. Addictions trick us into using our time and energy on something that doesn’t actually fulfill our deeper needs.
The first step is identifying what need you’re trying to satisfy: are you bored, lonely, tired, sad, scared, ashamed, or guilt-stricken? Make some space for that feeling and create some support around developing new healthy habits to fill those needs like talk therapy or coaching. We waste so much time trying to run from, distract, and numb our feelings. When we face them head-on we liberate ourselves to spend time doing things we WANT to do.
Ready for a deeper dive into how you use time?