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The secret to making time for yourself when you’re busy

Photo by Victor Jakovlev

COVID has seen a collapse of work-life boundaries and a merging of both as we’ve adapted to doing everything from home – work, schooling, even socialising. It has created a strange paradox. In theory more time because of less travelling and in reality less actual time to ourselves.

 

For many of us, technology has taken away the need to stop, and we’ve used it as our window of escape. However, it’s not enough. We need true ‘down-time’ not just scrolling time. In this article I share my experience of what’s worked for me and my coaching clients.

 

Not so long ago, I was seriously struggling with energy and motivation. My coach asked me, “what helps you to feel more energised?” and I responded, “Getting more sleep but I don’t have much control over that right now.” Then almost as an afterthought I said, “And having some time and headspace to myself.”

“And how often do you get that?”

“Well, never.” I admitted.

I felt guilty and overwhelmed. Again.

 

My children were very little. I was constantly running from one thing to the next. I believed that this was just my new reality and that I needed to like it or lump it. Get over yourself Laura, I told myself. This is what being a parent is all about. Just suck it up, it’s not all about you.

The problem was that it was taking a toll. A good friend once said to me, “listen to your body when it whispers so that it doesn’t have to shout.”  The whispers were becoming louder and as I’d had my own mini-burnout previously, I decided that it was time to listen to my body.

Getting a bit of space wasn’t a luxury. I needed it.

 

 

Coaching helped me to see things differently

 

Through working with my incredible coach, I realised that I had a choice.

It was within my power to make some changes. Just small changes to start with. And those small changes would make a huge difference. I let go of my all-or-nothingness and accepted that a 90minute morning routine was not a reality for me any more. Going for an hour long run was both beyond my energy levels and the pulls on my time.

 

It was within my power to make some changes. Just small changes to start with. And those small changes would make a huge difference. I let go of my all-or-nothingness and accepted that a 90minute morning routine was not a reality… Click To Tweet

 

 

Starting small

 

So I started really small. I asked my husband to take the children for 10minutes first thing in the morning so that I could have some time to pray and meditate.

 

Prayer and meditation has always been important to me. Intuitively, I knew that if I could start my day being nourished this way, then I would feel more calm and peaceful.

 

I felt a bit lost at first. And I think my husband did too. He had to learn juggle childcare and making breakfast. And I had to trust him to do that. And to put the boundaries in place with the children. It took some time, but eventually a new rhythm emerged.

 

Getting support

 

Over time, as we both grew in confidence in the new routine, the time I had grew to 20 minutes and now I get a full 30 minutes to myself. On the mornings that I can get up before anyone else, I sometimes get a full hour which is just bliss!

So here’s the small-big secret – start small and get support. Start with what you can do right now. It might not be the ideal. It certainly won’t be the end destination, but it is the first step.

 

Find the first step and make it a habit

 

Since this time I’ve been amazed at how many of my coaching clients don’t have any time when they’re not either on duty at work or at home. They have no proper down time. They never really slow down. And they’re feeling the effects – brain fog, distraction, inability to concentrate, irritability.

 

I've been amazed at how many people don't have any time when they're not either on duty at work or at home. They have no proper down time. They never really slow down. And they're feeling the effects - brain fog, distraction,… Click To Tweet

 

I  encourage them to make it a priority to create just one moment in each day to do something that will be enjoyable or nurturing. That first step that will set them on the journey to lasting change. It could be prayer or meditation. It might be journalling. For many of my clients it’s a daily walk. One person uses the time to play an instrument.

 

It’s important that it doesn’t involve a screen and or any element of obligation. Think of this as fun, play or time to just be. My 5 minute self-care guide has more ideas to draw on.

 

I had a client who wanted to establish a meditation practice and she had a very full life with very little time. To start with, she committed to just sitting on her meditation cushion for 2 minutes each day. She did this for two weeks.

 

It’s hard to believe but this simple act changed her life.

Why? Because 2 minutes created a habit. It gave her confidence that she could do it. Two minutes became five, which became ten and then fifteen. With fifteen minutes of meditation at the start of her day she felt more calm, focused and in control and was able to start making the big changes she really wanted to – losing weight, handling stress better and sleeping more consistently.

For more tips on creating habits that last, I highly recommend the excellent book, Atomic Habits by James Clear.

 

What small step will you take this week to create some space in your life?

I encourage my clients to find one thing each day that nurtures them. What small step will you take this week to create some space in your life? Click To Tweet

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