Life is full, my hands busy, and the demands on my time and energy can sometimes feel overwhelming. So overwhelming that I am regularly tempted to cut corners on making time for myself so I can crack on with all the other things crying out for my attention.
But, as I am learning, running on an empty tank makes it pretty impossible for me to serve my husband and children with a happy heart and cheerful disposition. So this year I have purposed to prioritise myself. And by that, I mean I am trying to do more of what I enjoy (be that by myself or with the people I love), and to prioritise the important over the urgent.
Here are 7 strategies that I have committed to in my efforts to increase my “me-time” margin:
Make a list of things that makes your heart smile. I challenge you to spend five minutes jotting down five things that you enjoy doing. I worked out that I come alive when being creative and making things (food, cards, gifts or stuff for the house), reading, enjoying the outdoors, unhurried quality time with my family, working out, and (geek alert) organising stuff. (Ok that’s six things!) Now put your list somewhere visible in your home or diary so that it won’t get forgotten. I keep them written down in my planner to help remind me that I matter, and the things I enjoy are worth prioritising.
Tell your time where to go, instead of wondering where it goes every day. Finance guru Dave Ramsey says, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” To my mind, schedules should do the same – mapping out how best to spend your time so that you can reach your goals. Remember the list you made? Sit down with your planner or diary once a week, and try to find a window to do one of them every day, even if it is for 5 to 15 minutes. If you wait for a 1 hour window before indulging in your fave activity, it might never happen. You might need to take a step back and simplify your season first. I’ve some tips on this FMM post, but my top recommendation would be to read this super practical and succinct eBook called “Tell your Time” – it revolutionised how I approach managing my life and time.
Think “little and often” instead of “epic and every now and then”. The everyday decisions and slow, sustainable changes can add up to big changes over time -check out what one cycling coach managed to achieve by improving everything his team did by a mere 1%. Pick one thing on your “me-time” list and spend a few weeks or months making that thing a regular feature in your schedule. Once you’ve cracked it, move on to weaving the next thing into your everyday.
Make the most of “the fringe hours”. Jessica Turner’s inspiring and practical book “The Fringe Hours – Making Time for You” helped me see the little windows of time within my everyday routines for creative outlets and self care. The key, she insists, is being prepared. So if reading is your thing, carry a book with you everywhere, and pull that out instead of your phone if you have five minutes to kill. If you are big on making photo albums, squeeze in ten minutes a day to organise a few snaps. You’ll be amazed how much can get accomplished, little and often, over a long period of time.
Keep it super simple (KISS). There are everyday rhythms to our days and weeks that cannot be avoided. Cooking, tidying, school runs, commutes and grocery shopping to name a few. I am constantly trying to simplify the way I run my house and home – the more streamlined I make the mundane, the more time I can free up to do the things I enjoy more. This year I stumbled across one simple meal-planning tip that has radically streamlined my meal planning and food shopping process and the time I spend on it each week. Can you think of any aspects of your everyday that could be done more efficiently to carve out more margin for “me-time”?
Be in the moment, instead of in your phone. We waste so much time surfing and scrolling on our smart phones that could otherwise be spent on the activities we constantly tell ourselves we are too busy to do. Switching emails off my phone and being intentional about reading a book instead of checking social media when I have a few minutes to spare is one of the ways I try to be fully present and better manage my time. You might find this post interesting if you would like to be more intentional about how you manage your own screen time.
Involve your children in the things you enjoy. “Me-time” is not necessarily about flying solo. Do you have hobbies that you could do with or around your children often enough for them to get excited about it? I am learning that there is great joy to be found in sharing the things that make my heart smile with my children I get creative in the kitchen with my girls as often as I can in the hope that they too will develop a love of making things and an appreciation for the work that goes into getting food and treats on the table. But also because if I waited for a child free window I’d never get anything fun done! I was also inspired by this book to read my bible out loud to my three young girls over dinner instead of alone. It’s been so interesting to witness their little minds and hearts engage with the grown up narrative. And so encouraging to watch their own appetite for God’s word grow.
So there you have it. Seven ways I am trying to make more time for the things I enjoy and feel energised by. Let me know if any of this is useful in your own adventures into widening your me-time margin. You can find me at myeverydaymatters.co.uk, on Instagram and on Facebook.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” (Zechariah 4:10)