What’s one thing we all seem to have in common? Lack of time! Managing a home, a family, a business, volunteer work, etc. all take time. All too often what we sacrifice to make more time is our own self-care. I’m as guilty as the next person of taking care everyone or every thing before taking care of myself. How do we change that? How do we carve out a little time for our Pilates practice? How do we find time to enjoy reading a book for pleasure or whatever else makes us happy?
Step one: Prioritize what is important to you. For me – my weekly priorities include my own personal pilates practice and running, supporting my business and maintaining a thriving Pilates Studio, maintaining my home and cooking healthy meals, and spending quality time with family/friends and the kitten of course!
Once you identify your priorities, take a look at your typical day/week. I bet you’ll find you spend a good deal of time on items that are not at the top of your priority list. It is easy to get pulled into committees, volunteer activities, clubs, distractions, and so on. Some can be rewarding and great for personal growth but not if they are taking precious time from what you really need and want to be doing. All too often I have found myself spending several hours working on a volunteer project instead of working on my own business or working out myself. It’s good to step back and make this assessment.
Start each week or even each day with a list or mental thought about your top priorities for that day. When unexpected items pop up, refer back to your list. It’s ok to say – I can’t get to that today but I may be able to later in the week. Or it may be best to find someone else as my schedule is pretty full right now.
I was talking with a student last night and we discussed how extravagant it felt to sit down and read a book. To take quiet time and read a novel for personal enjoyment not for business advancement – what a treat! The funny thing is we both find time to watch series after series on Netflix. Somehow that does not feel extravagant. Maybe we need a mind shift. I believe many of us have programmed in to our schedules watching regular television shows or series, without giving it a second thought. How many hours do we spend sitting in front of the television … I bet if you really stop and think about it it is more than you want to admit! I’m not anti-TV by any means, but maybe take a night off and see how many other things you can accomplish or enjoy.
With DVRs and shows on demand, we have the ability to watch shows when we want – not when they are originally aired. Wait to turn on the TV until you knock a couple things off your to do list. I find I am very efficient and productive with 30 minutes of found time. If I delay turning on a series for 30 minutes, I can do a quick tidy up of the house, put away laundry, answer some emails and pay a few bills. Getting these items off my list, allows me to enjoy my down time more and frees me up the next day to focus on my priorities.
My second suggestion is to get rid of unnecessary distractions. How many emails are you getting a day from stores you rarely shop at? Take a few moments to unsubscribe from email lists to those that you really rarely are interested in. I’ve been getting a lot of political emails lately and the first thing I do is unsubscribe. For me, spending time reading emails about politics is just not what I want to do. I also know I can go to their website and get all the info I need there. The same goes for the GAP, Target and other stores. I don’t need the constant distraction and suggestion to shop or browse! I know where to find these stores online if I need them.
My final bit of advice is to do a little bit of pruning! This can be so hard – letting go of commitments, activities or roles. It just may be the best thing you can do for yourself. Realize it is ok to choose you and to scale back a bit. Maybe it’s a temporary scale back or it could be permanent. When looking at your priorities, identify what is taking portions of your time that no longer fit your priorities. If you have been involved in an organization for years, it can be hard to consider stepping back or stepping down … but how else can someone else shine if we don’t make room? Maybe it’s the right season for you to pass the torch!