Raise your hand if you’ve ever struggled to find time for yourself! I currently start my days at 6:30am, care for my four-year-old until 2:30pm, then work at the office from 3pm to midnight. Sure, I’ve got weekends…when I can finally clean the house, catch up on laundry, grocery shop, and try to fit in a few family activities.
But despite this schedule, I manage to find at least one hour for myself nearly every single day. And those 60 minutes are a straight up vacation…a life-saving oasis smack dab in the middle of my standard day-to-day madness. They relax me, refresh me, and energize me to kick butt on the rest of my day.
No, I don’t find those 60 minutes at the neglect of my family or responsibilities. I find that time by working smarter, not harder, with the time I already have. You can find time for yourself too, using the same hacks!
Decide Exactly What You’ll Do and Won’t Do With Your Time
- Decide ahead of time exactly what you’ll do with the time. This is the most important part, because without a clear plan in mind, we tend to waste what little time we have. What activities will not just give you a hot second to yourself, but relax and refresh you? When I want to relax, I enjoy taking a bath or reading in my favorite armchair. And writing is a huge creative outlet that leaves me feeling refreshed and energized. Jot down a list of four to five activities that would leave you saying, “Ahhh!”
- Decide ahead of time exactly what you won’t do with the time. Making time for things that matter often requires taking time from things that don’t. So take an honest assessment of how much time you spend zoning out in front of the tv or scrolling through your phone. Though these activities might provide relief from the daily grind, they’re likely not leaving you feeling refreshed or fulfilled. Or maybe you’re investing precious moments into things that matter to others, but not to you. My mom once told me that when I was a newborn, she found herself awake in the middle of the night, dusting knickknacks while the rest of her family slept. She decided in that moment that a sparkling clean home wasn’t as important to her as getting the sleep her body needed.
Find Time For Yourself By Shifting Your Schedule
- Wake up earlier. Ah, the advice we all know is true, but no one really wants to hear. I feel ya! With a late shift that doesn’t land me home until after midnight, I’m the first to grab up every minute of sleep I can get! But alas, the truth remains. My home is quietest and most peaceful before my daughter and husband wake up. (Sorry family!) But you don’t have to go the Fortune 500 CEO route and start your day at 4am! Setting your alarm just 20 minutes earlier could give you the time you need to start your day off on the right foot.
- Stay up later. A (possibly easier) alternative to waking up earlier is staying up later. So rather than melting into the couch in front of Netflix the second your kids are in bed, take that bath, read that book, or do whatever it is that brings you the most joy.
Find Time For Yourself By Utilizing Time We Often Waste
- Utilize breaks and lunches. I work in a call center where I constantly observe people squandering their breaks. They have 15 minutes, so they run to the restroom, grab a drink, aaaand then run out of things to do. That usually means they spend the last 10 minutes of their break scrolling social media or sitting bored at their desk. You know who’s most refreshed by her break? My coworker who strums her ukulele for a few minutes in the break room. Or the one who knits over breaks and between calls. Rather than eating lunch out and then meandering through the building for an hour, my husband used to pack a healthy lunch, then join friends at the gym over his lunch break. This is prime time that you’re away from your home (and the chores that come with it) and family, leaving you with no one to worry about but yourself. Why not maximize that time?
- Have a plan in place for when the kids are away. Not in the traditional workplace? I can’t tell you how much I accomplish in the three hours my daughter spends in preschool just three days a week. As I drop her off, I already know my next move, which usually involves a grocery pickup (Why spend precious moments wandering store aisles?) and loads of writing. If you don’t make a plan for those few hours, they’ll be over before you know it and you’ll wonder what you did with the time.
- Use that commute! You have a few options during your commute. You can ride in silence or listen to the radio, or you can use up every precious minute of it on something that brings you joy. I’ve spent my 20-minute commute listening to podcasts and audiobooks, singing my favorite songs at the top of my lungs, praying for my family and others, brainstorming my next writing project, and catching up with friends. That’s forty minutes, five days a week, that are just for me.
Find Time For Yourself By Working Smarter, Not Harder
- Stop entertaining your kids all day long. I get it…you want to be a present and fully involved parent. But that doesn’t mean every minute of the day is yours to schedule and entertain! Plan a few activities if you must, but then allow your kids to fill the moments in-between with their own entertainment. Without my mother doing this, my brothers and I would have never learned to jump from the swings onto the trampoline or realized that sleeping bags are way too fast to ride down stairs. (Or was it just fast enough?) These are valuable life lessons, people! And more importantly, valuable time spent together being kids. And when your kids can find their own entertainment once in a while, you can find time for yourself…at least until they start fighting. Need some help in this arena? Check out How to Stop Entertaining Your Toddler | 13 Genius Tricks to Boost Independent Play.
- Work hard to become more focused and productive on other tasks throughout the day. Have you been there before? When you’ve been trying to pay the same bill for 30 minutes and keep getting distracted? Try your best to focus on the task at hand. Avoid multitasking and distractions, and devote your full attention to finishing whatever you have to do as efficiently and effectively as possible. Because if you can pay that bill in 5 minutes, you just found 25 extra minutes for yourself.
Plan, Commit, and Prioritize
- Decide what you’re going to do and when. Then write it down. You likely know when those free moments will crop up. So don’t wait around for them to appear, then suddenly remember halfway through said time that you wanted to use it. Instead, write it down. “Spend lunch writing at my favorite coffeeshop.” “Read for 20 minutes after the kids are in bed.” “Listen to audiobook on the way to work.” You’re making a clear plan and committing to it in writing, making it 10 million times more likely to happen.
- Prioritize that time just as much as any other activity. You wouldn’t bow out of a meeting at work because your kids frustrated you, would you? No! That’s likely a non-negotiable. In the same way, treat your time for yourself like any other appointment or commitment. The fact is that if you don’t regularly find time for yourself, you’ll burn out before you can complete all the other tasks on your list. So honor it as the mental health staple it truly is.
Wrap It Up
You can find time for yourself, even on the busiest days! By making a plan, shifting your schedule, better utilizing the time you have, and making that time a priority, you can enjoy those tiny vacations that fuel you through the rest of your day and into the next.
How do you find time for yourself? And what’s your favorite way to spend that time? Be sure to sound off in the comments!
P.S. Long to-do list sucking up all of your extra time? Nab our free worksheet to trim down, prioritize, and schedule your to-dos here!
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