Personal Experiences: How to find ME time
By Judy Churchill
One of the commonest complaints I hear in coaching sessions is: “I just can’t find the time” and “I’m too busy, I’ll never find time to do…….”. What people are really saying is that they have lost control of their lives somewhere along the line and that now their ‘time’ has become unbalanced. Understandably they no longer have any idea of where to start to recover their free time and more importantly to find the time to ‘do’ all those things they’ve promised themselves they’ll do once they finally ‘have the time’.
Before I can help people, as a coach I mentally divide my coachees into two categories:
Category one comprises genuinely time-starved people such as busy mums, carers, people running their own businesses (the self-employed), full time athletes and musicians and those doing all or some of those things in combination. In other words, these people are truly challenged to find time for themselves, as they are fulfilling so many roles.
Category two comprises those who have made being time-starved a way of life to avoid having to deal with other issues. They are afraid of the can of worms they will open up once they have to admit they are continually running away from themselves by filling every available moment with ‘work’. These people are continually using work as an excuse for not taking time off. This group typically includes doctors, lawyers, bankers, CEOs and other high ranking professionals who continually cite their overscheduled professional lives as a reason for not being able to ‘find the time to ….’.
Category one is by the far the easiest to remedy, as although these are the people who genuinely have the least time, they are also the ones who once you show them how to find the time, will actually execute the instructions and will very quickly and enthusiastically be doing all the things that they never believed they had time for.
Category two is the toughest to deal with because these are the people with the bad habits and an inbuilt resistance to change. Although they say they want their lives back and come to me for help in accomplishing this, they are the hardest nuts to crack as they are afraid to let go and surrender to the unknown and scary notion of ‘OMG now I’ve actually got the time to do sport, see my family, play with my kids, go hiking...., where and how do I get started?’. It is long-forgotten, uncharted territory that requires even more planning and support than category one.
However the mechanism for freeing up time is the same for both categories - it is all in the PLANNING! Free time doesn’t just happen, and it will never happen unless it’s scheduled, manufactured, created, call it what you will – you have to make it. This is where a coach can speed up the process for you, acting rather like a personal time supervisor who maps out the schedule and activities with you. Once I understand my coaches current life style, personality and history, I can quickly draw up a road map with ‘time out’ periods that will allow them to regain and enjoy their lives and breath again.
So here are a few tips that I suggest for those of you who are feeling overwhelmed and need and want to free up some ‘me time’. And remember it’s no good just reading the advice you have to follow it
Remember it won’t happen unless it’s an appointment in the diary. Make good use of the calendar on your phone, pad or computer and make an appointment with yourself for an activity and yes you DO have the power and the right to do this. It’s the same as scheduling your kids’ activities or your work schedule.
Don’t just write ‘me/free time’ write exactly what you want to do, for how long and where and how. For example read ‘the Celestine Prophecy’ on the balcony for 30 minutes or ‘work out in the lounge with Michael Pellegrino’s video exercise on the Organic Detox Bar FB page for 20 minutes’ or ‘do face mask and call Mum while it’s drying for 15 minutes’.
STICK TO IT!
Come hell or high water, you must stick to your plan. Plans that are adhered to, become regular habits. If you don’t keep your appointment you will be back to square one again. In my coaching sessions I use techniques to get people to stick to their schedules. Doing it alone requires a lot of self-discipline.
There is nothing worse than scheduling ‘me time’ and then going on a guilt trip about it. Feel great that you did it and congratulate yourself.
The early bird catches the worm – often the best time for ‘me time’ is first thing in the morning before the rest of day takes over and no it’s not bad to have your reading session before you’ve done the ironing; in fact it will make the rest of the day more positive and productive.
Include a good mix of activities so that the pattern is harder to break. If you always programme ‘revise Italian lesson’ into your schedule it’s easier to skip and it’s not specific enough and too repetitive. You’ll just tell yourself that if you don’t do it this time, you’ll do it next time. While we are on the subject; if learning languages is what you are using your free time for, then as a teacher I often tell my students to plan a different language activity for each free slot ( verbs, vocab, memrise app, video work etc.) as this makes it harder to skip a session. Just in case you’re wondering, I do actually practise what I preach and it works!
FIND A PARTNER
If it’s feasible then find someone with whom you can share your walk, jog, swim, gym session etc. and whom you can’t let down. Being accountable to someone means that you’re more likely to make it happen.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH A PRO
Best of all and a sure-fire way to stop you cancelling your free time is to make a appointment with professional who is charging you for their time and who will NOT refund last minute cancellations; e.g. a personal trainer for your fitness regime, a language tutor for your language lessons. Anything you have to pay for up front is also good because you know that it’s money down the drain if you don’t show.
If after reading all this you’re still sighing and saying ‘well that’s all very well but doesn’t she understand that I just don’t know where to find the time, I’m run off my feet……’ then you DEFINITELY need to come and see me :) Good luck!