You and I live in an ultra fast-paced world bombarded with a million and one things we need to do at home and work. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to get everything done, let alone squeeze in some precious me-time for ourselves.
Balancing time for work, family, and yourself has even become more complex with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), working hours increased by 10% due to lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another report states that the average employee now clocks in about six hours of overtime each week, double of what they used to pre-pandemic.
Worse, these overtime hours aren’t paid. So, you’re essentially working more but earning the same salary.
And yet, we see lots of people who get stuff done for work and still have enough time to work on a side hustle, their hobbies, do their errands, and still have the time and energy for their families and themselves.
After I suffered a major burnout in October 2020, I knew that dedicating some me-time is essential for me to stay productive, focused, and sane.
In this article, I’ll share the seven ways you can find and enjoy some me-time, no matter how busy you may be.
1. Change Your Mindset
The first thing you’ll need to do to find and enjoy some me-time is to change whatever negative belief you may hold when carving out time for yourself.
Let me explain.
Many struggle with finding time for themselves because they have this preconceived notion that having some me-time is unproductive and selfish.
This is significantly more so among women.
In some cultures, women are expected to put the needs of other people above themselves. If they try to switch things around and attend to their needs, they’re slapped with all sorts of harmful labels. What’s worse is that many of those that attach these negative labels to them are those closest to them.
It’s no wonder why many women are uncomfortable about setting aside time for themselves. They don’t want to rock the boat nor be given one more negative label. So, even if they do have free time that they can dedicate to themselves, they’d rather use it putting in additional work, doing household chores, or attending to the needs of others.
This is also why you’d probably catch yourself on more than one occasion saying, “I’m busy,” as an excuse from trying something new or even doing something that we know you should. I’ve done this so many times myself.
There’s nothing wrong with caring for and helping others. In fact, you should, especially if these are people that you are very close to.
And there’s no denying that there’ll be days when you can be so busy that your to-do list doesn’t seem to end.
But you also need to remember that you’re a wonderful human being with needs just as they do. If you won’t allow some me-time for yourself, you’ll eventually break down and won’t be able to care for others.
You can also get seriously ill if you’re not careful. A joint study done by the WHO and International Labor Organization (ILO) found that working 55 or more hours each week increases your risk of a stroke by 35% and heart disease by 17%.
Having some me-time gives you the physical and mental rest you need to recharge and recuperate from the stress that comes with your job and other responsibilities. It keeps you from running on empty and feeling deprived and miserable. Plus, you’ll become more productive and focused on your work.
2. Schedule Your Me-Time First
When you’re as busy, it’s very easy to fill up your schedule with everything you have to do for work or your business. As a result, there’s hardly any room left for you to squeeze time for other things.
Simply switching to scheduling when I’ll be having my me-time first, it’ll be easier for you to find the time to devote to yourself.
Now, you might be thinking: This would probably work if my schedule’s fixed or flexible. But what about if my work schedule’s erratic?
The good news is that you can still enjoy some “me” even if you got no control over your work schedule by plotting this in before any other events or appointments. That way, you can still squeeze some time for yourself, no matter how hectic your schedule may be.
3. Be Realistic
Let’s face it: Not all of us can spend an entire day for me-time each week like those we see on Youtube.
And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.
If you only can spare an hour a week for yourself, then do it.
If it’s only 30 minutes each day, go for it.
What’s important is that you’re giving yourself the chance to step back, breathe, and allow yourself to rest and recharge.
4. Practice the Art of Time Blocking
I first came across the concept of time blocking while watching this video by Amy Landino.
What I love about time blocking or calendar blocking (as how Amy Landino calls it) is that it visually shows you how much time you currently have in a week you can give yourself.
I also love the fact that you can assign colors to each event to add to your calendar. This makes it easier to see what events or activities you planned and whether you got a healthy work-life balance.
5. Set an Alarm for It
Some people (including yours truly) don’t have a problem with finding time for themselves. The challenge is in the follow-through.
The reason? You can get so consumed with what you’re working on that you don’t realize that you’ve already missed your me-time appointment. It’s even harder when you’re enjoying what you’re doing, or your client decides to give you a call right before you call it a day.
Then, I came across an article about time blocking that taught me one simple tip on how to make sure that I can follow through with the me-time schedules I’ve set.
That tip was to set an alarm for it.
It’s so simple, but it was a massive game-changer for me.
Setting the alarm jolts me out of my flow and tells me that it’s time to switch from work mode to me-time mode.
6. Have the Right Tools to Use
Having the right tools is essential because it’ll help make it easier for you to plan your me-time and follow through.
Here are the tools I personally use to ensure that I have some me-time, no matter how busy my schedule gets.
Even though I’m an Apple girl, I still prefer using Google Calendar because it easily integrates with my booking calendar and other tools I use for my business. It’s also very easy for me to share it with the rest of my team, who aren’t Apple users.
It’s also free to use.
Even though I’m using a digital calendar to block off the time I spend on my work and me-time, I still use a separate physical planner to go into more detail on what types of activities I’ll be doing during my me-time.
The reason is that I tend to feel overwhelmed when I see my Google calendar looking so cluttered with all the stuff that I need to do.
Having a separate physical planner where I can jot down when I’ll have my me-time and what I’ll do during that time gives me that sense that I’m now ending my workday.
It’s also my way of keeping myself accountable. I’m not one to waste a good-looking planner. So, I’m more encouraged to write something down on my physical planner.
Alarms on My iPhone
This is more of a feature on my phone than a tool. Still, it’s been ultra helpful to make sure that I get some me-time in whenever I can.
At the start of each day, I make it a point to turn an alarm to remind me when I should stop working.
Compared to only getting notifications, having an alarm go off will force you to turn the thing off. If you don’t, it’ll go on snooze only to go off again after 10 minutes.
Like I explained earlier, this simple action of turning off the alarm is enough to give me that push I need to switch from work mode to relax mode. As a result, I’m able to stick to my schedule more consistently.
Do Not Disturb
Another helpful feature for me to make sure that I get some me-time in is the Do Not Disturb function on my cellphone.
The downside of the technology that we have today makes us easily accessible to everyone. It can be so easy for me to forget my scheduled me-time when I see a message pop up on my phone from one of my clients.
By turning on the Do Not Disturb mode on my phone, I’m able to disconnect from the world and enjoy my me-time while still being accessible in the event of an emergency.
7. Learn How to Say “No”
One of the biggest fears we have as human beings is to be alone. We all want to be accepted and loved.
That’s why it’s tough for us to say “no” when we suddenly get invited to a dinner party or a client would want to chat after your set working hours. It’s also the reason why it’s so hard for us to get off the phone when someone calls us and pour out all their woes and frustrations.
We’re afraid that we can lose a client or offend someone if we say “no” to these people.
But did you know that every time you’re saying “yes” to someone, you’re actually saying “no” to yourself and your needs at the same time?
No one can be in two places at the same time. Something’s gotta give.
So, if finding and enjoying me-time is a priority for you, then don’t be afraid to say “no” if the invitation is going to come in conflict with your scheduled me-time.
One way you can say “no” politely and minimize the chances that you’ll offend someone is by using what’s called the Sandwich Method.
This is a communication technique commonly used by businesses to provide constructive feedback to their employees. It gets its name because the negative part of the conversation is “sandwiched” between two parts of positive talk.
Say, for example, you planned to have some me-time scheduled tonight. But just as you’re about to settle in and enjoy your me-time, you get a call that there’s a dinner party at a relative’s house, like, now.
Here’s how you can decline the invitation using the Sandwich Method:
Positive: Oh wow! Thanks for the invite. I’d love to come.
Negative: But I already have a very important engagement to attend to now.
Positive: I’ll definitely try to make it to the next dinner party.
Of course, this technique isn’t foolproof. Even with the Sandwich Method, there’ll still be people that would get offended, even angry, when you decline their invitation.
And that’s fine.
Remember: You can’t please everyone.
So, if they take it against you, don’t sweat about it too much because those that genuinely care about you will.
You Deserve to Enjoy Some Me-Time
As you can see in this article, it’s not the fact that you’re busy that’s hindering you from finding and enjoying some “me” time. It’s the mindset that you need to stay busy all the time or else you’ll be called selfish, irresponsible, and lazy.
The tips I shared here can help you find and make time for yourself. But that doesn’t mean that you need to follow this to the letter. Feel free to make adjustments so that it fits you and your personality.
Everyone deserves a break. That includes YOU.
So go ahead, and enjoy. You deserve it!
Now, Over to You
What’s one thing that you’ll start doing today to help you carve out time in your busy schedule? Share it in the comments below.