Why "Me-Time" Combats Overwhelm & How to Fit It In!
Sometimes people ask me how I find the time to fit everything in. First I have to clarify, I don’t find the time, I make it. I have a clear focus on my priorities which helps, but I also follow the guidelines discussed below to ensure I have enough time spent each week on what’s important to me (the ever-important “me time” that can sometimes elude those of us living busy lives filled with career, kids, and an endless list of responsibilities if no conscious effort is placed on it).
Honestly though, this wasn’t an easy place to get to. I can very clearly remember a particular moment several years ago at the office. I’d been back to work after my second maternity leave for a few months. The kids were one and three years old, so life at home was very demanding. It was the middle of busy season at work and I’d been assigned the tax compliance responsibilities for one of our offices largest clients, so life at the office was also extremely demanding. It was the ultimate juggling act and the ultimate test of managing feelings of overwhelm. I did not always succeed and that particular day, when I was notified of one additional filing that would be required to be turned around in a short time frame for one of the many acquired companies in my client’s portfolio, I found myself barely making it to a bathroom stall before the tears began to flow. I just needed five minutes to pull myself together; to talk myself off the ledge; to remind myself that everything would get done and that I had an amazing support system at home and at the office to help me with the juggle that was my life in that moment.
Moments of overwhelm are certainly going to continue to happen as I can’t control and plan for everything that comes up each and every day. I have found however, that being super clear on my priorities, and being super conscious about how I spend my time, allows me to ensure that the overwhelm moments don’t happen as often. The simple tips below are how I ensure there’s enough time in my life that’s just for me, keeping me motivated and content with everything else I’m juggling. When I have enough time spent on the things that are just for me, there’s less chance that everything else begins to feel like an obligation or an irritation just taking me away from what I’d really like to be doing!
- I get up several hours before everyone else five days a week. This time is generally uninterrupted and I use it to fit in fitness and a little personal development (see point two).
- I know when to focus and when I can multi-task. Multi-tasking is not generally something I promote because I feel that with some focus on specific tasks, I can actually be more productive and knock things off my list more efficiently. There are times however when multi-tasking is ok. For example, each morning at 5:00am, I walk my dog. I also use this time to listen to audio books or podcasts downloaded to my phone on various self development topics that are of interest to me. Learning while I exercise – a total win-win!
- I know when to say no and I don’t allow myself to feel guilty about it. This particular tip took some time, so don’t be concerned if it’s not instant for you to develop this skill. But by being clear on my priorities, it’s easier for me to assess when I should say no to a request on my time if it just doesn’t fit for me.
- I schedule time for my priorities. 5:00 – 7:00am is my time for fitness and self development, but 2 hours five days a week is not sufficient to cover off all of the good things I like to do with my time. Generally I also assess each weekend to determine when I can block off another 2-3hours of focussed time to be able to work on my own projects or hobbies. The rest of the weekend can be spent with family or friends, attending the kid’s activities and other social functions. Participating in all of these is important to me, but without that two to three hours for myself, the other stuff that should be fun, can feel like an irritation taking me away from what I’d really like to be doing.
These simple practical steps help me to ensure every week has time set aside that is just for me! If you are trying to combat feelings of overwhelm, why not take a few minutes to look back over your past week and be completely honest about how much time you spent doing things that were just for you - watching your favourite TV show, reading your novel, going for a walk alone, or whatever it is that you do just for yourself. This week, make an effort to implement some new strategies (perhaps one or two of those that I’ve described above that work for me) to allow you to increase that time, and just see if it helps to take the edge off those feelings of overwhelm. It’s certainly worth a shot, and it absolutely worked for me!