Do you ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Between work, family, and other obligations, it can be hard to find time to focus on yourself. But carving out “me time” is so important for your mental health and well-being. This comprehensive guide will walk you through creative ways to make time for yourself, even with a packed schedule.
Life pulls us in many directions these days. We juggle careers, kids, relationships, household duties, hobbies, and more. With so many responsibilities, it’s easy to put ourselves last on the priority list. But taking care of your needs is vital. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Finding personal time helps you recharge, reduces stress, boosts creativity, and enhances your overall wellbeing. When you make yourself a priority, you ultimately have more energy for everything else on your plate. You show your loved ones the importance of self-care.
Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed and burned out. Be proactive about finding pockets of time for activities meaningful to you. Even 10-15 minutes here and there adds up. Use these tips to create space for yourself starting today.
- Evaluate your schedule to identify free time you already have available. Look for small windows of 15-30 minutes.
- Get up before everyone else to enjoy alone time in the morning.
- Take mini breaks throughout the day for quick recharging activities.
- Set boundaries and learn to say no so you don’t get overcommitted.
- Leverage technology to create efficiency and free up time.
- Make time for yourself a priority goal not up for negotiation.
Assess Your Schedule
The first step is analyzing your current schedule to find gaps of time. Even 15 spare minutes provide opportunities to do mini self-care activities. Look for pockets of time like:
- Your commute to work
- Waiting at appointments
- Kids’ extracurricular activities
- Lunch breaks
- Early mornings or nights
Block out set windows for yourself. Put them in your calendar so you protect that time. Schedule it like any other obligation you can’t easily cancel or reschedule.
You may need to experiment with when you have the most energy or flexibility based on your unique context. But do your best to carve out at least 30-60 minutes a day. Consistency is key, even if you can only commit to short periods.
Wake Up Early
One of the best ways to grab alone time is waking up before the rest of your family. Use the quiet morning hours to focus on yourself guilt-free. You can:
- Enjoy a cup of coffee in peace
- Do yoga or meditate
- Read a book
- Take a relaxing bath or shower
- Journal your thoughts
- Go for a walk outdoors
Waking up 30-60 minutes earlier creates a nice block of personal time when no one else demands your attention. It takes willpower to set your alarm earlier. But the benefits are immense.
Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier so you don’t lose too much sleep shifting your schedule. Or perhaps you naturally wake up before your partner and kids. Take advantage of that!
Schedule Mini Breaks
Look for small breaks throughout the day you can leverage too. Use 5, 10 or 15 minute windows to inject self-care activities. Little breathers help you reset and re-energize so you tackle the rest of the day with more focus and patience.
Ideal times for mini breaks include:
- Mid-morning or mid-afternoon lulls
- Waiting for meetings or appointments to start
- During kids’ activities when you’re just observing
- Natural transitions between tasks
Great 5-15 minutes pick-me-ups include:
- Doing light stretches
- Meditating using an app
- Enjoying a cup of tea mindfully
- Listening to uplifting music
- Reading an inspiring quote or poem
- Looking at nature photos
- Taking deep breaths
Use a timer so you don’t accidentally go over. But let these small pockets renew you. The compound effect adds up.
One of the top barriers to finding personal time is overcommitting yourself. We want to say yes to everything and please people. But in the process, we stretch ourselves too thin.
Give yourself permission to set boundaries. Say no when requests don’t align with your priorities or capacity. Only agree to obligations that bring you joy, not drain you.
Polite yet firm phrases like these can help:
- “Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t take this on right now.”
- “My plate is really full. I won’t be able to help with that.”
- “I’d love to, but need to manage my schedule carefully.”
Also, avoid double booking yourself. Cluster appointments and tasks together with buffers for yourself in between. Carefully consider new commitments knowing your existing ones.
Make technology work for you by automating repetitive tasks and streamlining processes. This creates efficiency to free up time elsewhere.
- Set up bill pay and other payments on autopilot
- Create email filters and unsubscribe from lists
- Use a grocery delivery service for staple items
- Schedule social media posts in advance
Also, limit aimless time draining on devices. Be intentional about when you check emails or scroll social apps. Set a timer if needed.
Make Yourself the Priority
Ultimately, you have to decide self-care matters. Don’t let others push it off the schedule or make you feel guilty. Position personal time as a non-negotiable priority.
Just like you wouldn’t cancel a big meeting or kid’s game last minute, treat your windows for yourself the same way. Keep them protected on your calendar. Only bump them for true emergencies.
Be gently assertive if loved ones demand time you’ve already set aside. Say “This is important me time for me that I’ve already scheduled. Can we find another time to chat/hang out/etc.?”
No one else will make you a priority unless you do. So take the lead advocating for and protecting your need to recharge. The people in your life will adjust to respect it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I not feel guilty for taking personal time?
It’s normal to feel a little guilty at first putting yourself first. But remember, you’re no good to anyone when you’re fried. By taking care of yourself, you ultimately have more energy for your loved ones too. They benefit when you’re at your best.
What if I just can’t find any spare time?
Get creative looking at odd pockets of time. Can you listen to an audiobook or podcast during your commute? Wake up 20 minutes earlier? Do a mini meditation during lunch? Say no to one obligation eating up free time? It may require trade-offs but commit to carving out at least 10-15 minutes for yourself daily.
What are quick self-care activities I can do?
Great options for 5-15 minute pick-me-ups include meditating, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, reading an inspiring quote, listening to music, stretching, deep breathing, taking a short walk, or just sitting outside in nature.
Making time for yourself pays off tenfold. You reduce anxiety, recharge your battery, tap into creativity, and show loved ones the power of self-care. Start analyzing your schedule for pockets of personal time. Wake up early, take mini-breaks, set boundaries, leverage tech, and make yourself the priority. Your overall wellbeing improves exponentially when you nurture yourself.