Time on Your Hands

(Originally posted: Springboard Consultancy 8/11/16)
I can hardly believe it now but when I was a youngster, Sundays seemed slow and really boring. And that awful weekend in October when the clocks went back presented me with the longest Sunday in the year and how time seemed to drag.

Not surprisingly my view of time has changed. Nowadays I relish that Sunday in October – and most (grown-up) people I know feel the same. The extra hour seems like a gift. Last weekend at least one friend of mine had a sneaky lie-in and I loved having more leisurely morning and appreciating the feeling that I had time in reserve. Maybe you took the opportunity to add a few kilometers to a Sunday run or a walk in the park. The question is …did you use that gift of an hour for yourself or did you see it as an opportunity to squeeze even more tasks into an already busy Sunday?

On Springboard programmes we talk about finding time for ourselves – about carving out ‘me time’. Most people nod their heads in agreement and recognise that it’s vital to have time away from the demands and routines to….relax, potter, nurture, be inspired, meditate, chill ….whatever is necessary to make your heart sing. And yet, all too often putting that into practice becomes a real challenge.

What stops us finding time for ourselves? Often we don’t make it a priority – if we do think of it, we put it at the end of the daily agenda so if there’s any time left after we’ve …worked all day/cared for everyone/saved the world … then we may have the crumbs of time remaining (and we’re probably too exhausted to enjoy it anyway!).

My friend Claire is just like that – she’s a real angel who looks out for everyone at work and at home and hardly gives herself a second thought. Ask her if she has anytime for herself and she’ll mutter something about having a bath before she goes to bed or walking the dog in the cold park before she rushes off to work. Anything more ambitious in the way of ‘me time’ seems just too selfish to Claire.

But here’s the thing – we all need time for ourselves. We need to refill the tank, otherwise we are trying to run our lives with the needle on empty. We can’t give out to others either at work or in our personal lives unless we replenish our own energy.

So if you were to give my friend Claire advice, what would you be saying? If you wanted to convince her that it is possible (and necessary) to take time for herself what would be your hints and tips?

Here are some of my thoughts on making time for yourself:1Shave time off other activities

Shave time off other activities
– order groceries online, organize a shared school run, have the occasional take-away, get up earlier (30minutes or 10minutes – whatever is possible).

I love this Irish proverb ‘lose an hour in the morning and you’ll be looking for it all day’.

2. Say ‘no’

– every time you say ‘yes’ to someone/something you are saying ‘no’ to something else (usually yourself). Claire has said ‘yes’ to running the Brownies, helping at the school fete, hosting the extended family annual dinner, organizing the team Christmas night out – and many other things that cause her stress and drain her energy. A useful motto for me is ‘just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should’.

Delegate/get support
– trying to do everything is crazy and yet many times we do just that. Delegate some tasks at work and at home. Yes, yes I know you’ll tell me that it’s not that easy ….but if you don’t try and take the risk then nothing will change. Don’t be a victim, ask colleagues, partners, kids, friends for help and support – you may be pleasantly surprised and if you’re not, then it will be something to work on.

Ditch perfectionism
– Aim for ‘good enough’. If you’re squirming at the thought of not doing things perfectly, then this is a great place to start your quest to give yourself a break. Set a time boundary for a task and stick to it. And in the words of the famous Disney song …‘let it go!

Watch for time wasters
– fitting in with other people’s routines/agendas, browsing endlessly on the internet, getting stuck in front of the TV when you’re not enjoying it, listening to colleagues/neighbours/friends moaning on and on. These things don’t nurture you and, in fact, they probably drain your tank dry. Be very aware of what does you good and then be assertive with other people and yourself.

And most of all
– put yourself at the top of the agenda sometimes – we’re not given an extra hour each day, we need to make choices so we can take it for ourselves. It’s not selfish – it’s a life saver.

I can’t say it any better than the wise words of Oprah Winfrey: ‘Alone time is when I distance myself from the voices of the world so I can hear my own’.

Thanks for taking the time to join me on this blog

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