ME time!

A common concern or complaint that I hear from my clients is – “I don’t have time for ME!”  This is pretty common and it can cause some bad side effects such as resentment, guilt, grumpiness, negativity and lack of energy.  I’ve even seen that this is a badge of negative honor in some and translates to a martyr cry about how they put everyone else’s needs before their own.  BORING!

Think about the last time you were on an airplane.  The safety demonstration always says – put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others with theirs.  Why?  You could literally die if you put someone else’s needs before yours.  How helpful could you be then?  If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others.  Here are some tips about ME time:

Tip 1:  Take time.  ME time can be as little as 15 minutes a day.  I also think of it as alone time.  During your busiest times – for most this is weekdays, create a habit.  It could be walking or jogging, meditating or reading, first thing in the morning.  Leave your workstation at lunch and sit on a park bench or walk around the block.  On your way home from work, stop at the gym or the library.  Whatever fits into your schedule – morning, noon or late afternoon – do the activity at the same time each day to create the habit.

Tip 2:  Do less.  Over a week or two, keep track of how you’re spending your time.  You’ll find that some blocks of time are fixed, such as commuting, work, taxi service for your children – while other activities are optional, watching TV, talking on the phone, surfing the internet.  Still other activities can be delegated or outsourced such as house cleaning, gardening, repairs, errands.  Calculate how much time the optional activities take and the delegated activities take.  You decide how you want to spend your time.

Tip 3:  Make a list.  If you’ve read my blogs before, you will see that I’m a list person.  Make a list of all the things you’d like to do that you’re currently not doing.  Another way to think about it, answer this question – If you had all the time and resources in the world, how would you spend your time?  Once you have the list, number the activities in priority order – what is most important to you?  With all the time you found in Tip #2, start with your number one priority and get creative.

Tip 4:  Just say “no”.  This tip may be hard for many.  It takes practice.  If someone asks you to do something, your first tendency may be to say yes – and do your best to do it.  What happens over time, you attract people who will take advantage, because you always say yes.  You may have been taught to always help others out.  There is a fine line between helping others and becoming a dumping ground.  Here are some words that might help you say “no”.  “Thank you for thinking of me, my plate is really full right now.  I’ll let you know when I have extra time.”  “I’d love to, but I don’t have any free time to give this my full attention, thank you for asking.”

How do you find ME time?  How do you spend your ME time?  What tips do you use to get more time out of your day?  Leave your comments below.

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