I’m not a parent, but if I was, I’d be crunched for some major “me time.” According to a survey by Munchery.com, parents get only about 30 minutes to themselves per day. Yikes.
It’s probably safe to say that the parents of today are busier than pre-internet and cell phone parents were (like mine). I don’t discredit the fact that my mom was incredibly busy, working and running a household of five. She didn’t get much “me time” either, but I don’t recall her hiding from us, as some survey respondents admitted to doing.
I’m sympathetic to the parents in this survey. Not having enough time means you’re not operating at your best.
I also feel my time slipping out from underneath me. I’m juggling a busy work schedule, travel and making sure I’m spending time with the people I love, and I’m trying to feel less tired, crabby and frazzled in the process. So, I recently decided to manage my time better — and it took some experimenting.
What I Did
I’ve learned that prioritization is key, and it takes a mix of planning, thoughtfulness, and trial and error. Here’s how I started and figured out what worked.
No. 1: I Wrote Down Three Daily Activities I Really Enjoy
These are 15-minute activities that can be enjoyed on a daily basis so I can include them in my schedule. I wrote them down so I didn’t need to think, “What should I do today?” and waste precious time and brain space.
My three activities were:
- A walk to the park near my office
- Listening to my audiobook
Then, I made a conscious effort to incorporate it into my day, multiple times.
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No. 2: I Scheduled Daily Breaks Into My Google Calendar
I live and die by my Google calendar. At first, I started scheduling these breaks into my calendar to make sure I was following it. After a while, I didn’t need to because they became such an integral part of my days.
No. 3: Weekends and Time Off
In addition to my daily list of things I enjoy doing, I also wrote down a broader list of what I love to do when I have time off.
- Watching a movie in the theater
I realize not everyone has the luxury of being able to take entire days to have “me time.” However, it’s not impossible, it just takes more planning.
My parent friends strategically coordinate playdates and sleepovers to get their kids out of the house. They also have a network of “babysit swappers” with other parents to help save on the cost of childcare.
No. 4: Outsource or Space Out Less Important Tasks
I used to spend two hours or more a week on laundry and cleaning my apartment. I probably spend 15 minutes a week tidying up my place now that I downsized apartments, and I switched to dropping off my laundry rather than doing it myself, every two weeks.
This frees up at least 8 hours a month with which I can work on my creative writing projects that “I never seem to have time for.” (Tim Ferriss would be proud.)
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No. 5: I’ve Banished “I Don’t Have Time” From My Vernacular
A few months back, I stopped saying, “I don’t have time.” I have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, so I actually do have time. Instead, I say: “I haven’t prioritized that yet.”
This small shift has completely changed the way I think about time and how to prioritize it. I realized that learning to manage time means incorporating lots of “me time” into my days and knowing what I enjoy doing during said time. I’ve also learned to let go of the guilt and frustration if my schedule gets thrown off or is mismanaged.
All of these efforts mean I’m getting lots of enjoyment out of life — and, ultimately, that makes me happier. If you’re ready to get some of your much-needed “me time” back, try one (or all) of these tips.
Click through to see Elon Musk’s tips for aspiring entrepreneurs.
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