While working in the highly connected tech space over the years, I’ve come to understand the true importance of me-time – the time you take to focus on yourself, to press pause on the demands of work or life and indulge in whatever recharges your mind. Me-time is wonderfully selfish in the best sense of the word.
Yet as important as it is, me-time is the first thing to go when we’re feeling overwhelmed. How can we justify taking a break to think about ourselves when there’s so much to be done for work, family, friends, etc.?
The reality is that taking me-time positively impacts both you and others. You’re able to do better and be better when you feel present.
I continue to work on practicing what I preach. Too many spare half hours at home are spent catching up on work; too many days pass without a break at all because I’m just “too busy.” So I write this both to share my learnings with you and to remind myself. Me-time doesn’t happen by itself – you have to create it. Here’s how I create me-time:
There’s a secret to finding time for yourself: get organized. We tend to blame our unrealistically long to-do list, a last-minute errand or some other “life happens” event for absorbing the free time we thought we had. However, personal time should be a priority, and as such, you’ll need to schedule it into your day just like any other important task.
If organization isn’t your forte, start simple. Write down everything you wish to accomplish in your day in the morning. Work, chores, errands, calling your mom, eating, me-time – make sure it all makes it on the master list. Then, start blocking off each task in your calendar starting with the most important. (If you’re feeling extra ambitious, use colored pencils to categorize tasks by topic or urgency and block off time according to those categories). Remember to leave some buffer time for when things take unexpectedly longer than you think. This allows you to evaluate what can realistically get done, and better prioritize the important items.
My thoughts tend to run uncontrollably in my head. Creating a categorized, prioritized list calm them down and lets me to focus on the tasks at hand. It also helps reduce how often things “pop up” unexpectedly, meaning I’m better able to protect the time I blocked off for myself.
Still think you don’t have time to take a break for yourself? You may be thinking too big. You don’t necessarily need to block a consecutive hour out of your day (though if you can, by all means, do it!) in order to get the benefits. If you’re struggling to fit me-time into your schedule, try incorporating smaller chunks of time throughout your day. For example, take a 10-minute walk between two major projects at work or utilize the time waiting in line at the grocery store to reflect and be mindful.
Learn what works for you
In general, when I feel tired and in need of some me-time, I seek out the sun. In the summer, I recharge on solar energy – a bit of quiet time in the warm rays and I’m refreshed and rejuvenated! In the winter, a nice fireplace always does the trick.
Finding the location or activity that works best for you is the key to a successful, restorative break. Whether it’s lounging in the sun, escaping in a book, exercising, practicing meditation at your desk or anything in between, me-time is about finding what makes you feel at peace. In fact, taking me-time doesn’t even have to mean y being alone. If solitude isn’t what recharges you, surrounding yourself with loved ones can be just as impactful – simply turn off your phones, put stressors aside and enjoy each other’s company.
Justifying time for yourself can be difficult, but let this me a reminder – to you and me both! – that it’s necessary and doable.
You can follow Natasa on Twitter to connect further.