Our calendars tend to reflect everyone else’s priorities—above our own, as Craig Jarrow wisely points out in his book Time Management Ninja: 21 Tips for More Time and Less Stress in Your Life.
So it’s not surprising that we can’t find much free time for ourselves. This can be especially true if you’ve got kids, a demanding job, and/or a whole host of other responsibilities.
But that doesn’t mean that finding “me” time is impossible. The key is to plan ahead.
Jarrow, founder of TimeManagmentNinja.com, suggests blocking out time in your schedule—ideally 2 weeks in advance—to make appointments with yourself.
Think of this time as sacred—the same way you’d think of a work meeting or a family event. Plus, when you block out time on your calendar, Jarrow writes, “it’s much easier to tell yourself and others, ‘Sorry, I am busy at that time.'”
If you have a partner and/or kids, it’s also helpful to create a shared family calendar (which you can do both digitally and on paper). Jarrow notes that a family calendar might include: school events; work events that affect the family; dinner dates for mom and dad; fun family events; sports and other activities; and vacation.
Some of us aren’t used to having much, if any, “me” time, which means you might be unsure about what to do. And, similarly, you might be unsure if it’s actually worth it.
But “me” time can be limitless—and incredibly nourishing. This sacred time can be time for you to unwind and care for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. This sacred time can be time to act on your dreams.
That is, you might carve out time to see a therapist once or twice a week. You might take a dance or yoga class. You might take up a new project, such as planting a vegetable garden or spending 30 minutes every morning working on your poetry collection (or try one of these teeny tiny creative projects).
You might carve out 15 minutes every evening to meditate or pray. You might spend an hour walking or riding your bike. You might draw at a coffee shop, or train for a charity race.
You might carve out time to do something that excites you or recharges you or sparks your curiosity—or all three. You might carve out time to do absolutely nothing.
Your blocks of “me” time might be an hour, or they might be 10 minutes. Either way, it’s vital to add them to your calendar before anything else.
Remember, you are in charge of your schedule. I know often it feels like the exact opposite—like you’re being pushed and pulled, and have zero say. But the missing piece might revolve around lack of planning—or engaging in activities that don’t really nurture us (like flipping through channels, or attending events we don’t want to attend because we’re afraid to say no).
Whatever the specific reasons, pause to name what you need and reflect on how you can make that happen on a regular basis—and write it in ink in your planner (or whatever system you use).
And make a commitment to yourself.