One of the things that we often don’t consider as being an element of self-care, is being very intentional about our time. What I mean by that is, are we making the choices of utilizing the limited time that we have in activities that support our self-care.
Do you often find yourself participating in activities in which you really are not interested? Have you found yourself going to that baseball game because a friend of yours invited you and had free tickets? Did you say yes because you did not want to offend your friend? I invite you to pause and look at how many times you engage in activities that do not serve you. Now I know that there are some activities that are not fun, and they’re just part of Adulting, right? But there is a way that we can manage our time that allows for us to complete those tasks. Do those things that we need to do as efficiently and quickly as possible to allow us to return to those activities that support our self-care, that serve us and brings us joy. When we have the courage to do this, we change the fabric of our lives and gradually change the balance of time from what we must do to what we want to do.
Think about it. You have heard me on several occasions talk about making space. Creating spaciousness in our lives. This concept promotes self-care. You have heard the phrase “I need some space.” The very uttering of that phrase is an act of self-care. The pause. Recognizing you are full and need to release. Create spaciousness for care and consideration of yourself and your wellbeing.
I invite you first to just pay attention. Notice those activities that you are doing that serve you and those that don’t. Next, get rid of the time wasters. For those you cannot get rid of, produce a strategy to minimize the time you spend doing that activity. I will give you an example from my life. I was working at a job that I was no longer enjoying; I was often spending twelve hours a day at this job that was not fulfilling and was causing me a lot of stress and subsequently physical harm. Once I realized that I could make a different choice. I did. It is a long story you can read on the About Deborah – GratefulOM section on my website. But the gist of the story is, I made the decision and produced a plan to leave, and then I worked the strategy to achieve my desired goal of taking care of me.
Sometimes it helps to create structure that holds your self-care. My friend Sara has a color-coding system that she assigns a map of her projects. Her system uses green, yellow, and red colors to identify the level of which the project feeds her soul. Green – feeds her soul. Yellow – somewhat feeds her soul and Red – is an energy drain. This gives her a visual representation of her projects. She can make decisions that will allow her to provide balance throughout the week. She can also make decisions based on her energy level. If she feels like she has a lot of energy and bandwidth she may choose to address one of the projects that are draining. If she notices she is feeling a little low she may choose to work on a project that brings her joy.
You get the gist. As I write this article I am coming up with more examples in my life where I have done this. I could go on, and on, and on. I will save you from that and move instead to the three steps to making it happen.
Find yourself in a quiet place and spend some time identifying your time suckers. Those activities that don’t feed your soul. One exercise I sometimes do is set my timer for say 5 minutes. During that 5-minute timeframe I will write down everything that comes to mind. Then I will assess and arrange them in level of importance or eliminate those that I do not want to address.
Create a plan. How will you minimize the time or the effect of the soul draining exercise? Take house cleaning for example. You can minimize your time by hiring someone to do it. You can minimize the soul draining effect by playing energetic music while you clean. Not all of us can hire a housekeeper. The key is to create a plan that is applicable to your current situation.
Just do it! Work the plan. Expect successes, failures, and adjustments. Just be sure to keep it moving. Remember there is no right or wrong. Just what works for you.
So again, I invite you to take some time this week to look at your time and find ways for it to better serve you. I cannot help but remember that you cannot get back time. But you can surely make it your own. Happy planning!