Raise your hand if your life consists of 24/7 work meetings, volunteering, dinner dates, and seemingly 1,000 other responsibilities and commitments. Yes? (Mine too.) And while that's all well and good, it can definitely mean it's time to look for ways to create more time for yourself.
Don't get me wrong: We should all be so lucky to be employed and have friends. It's definitely not a bad thing. However, busy schedules can quickly get out of hand, especially when we make everyone else a constant priority over ourselves.
That's why free time is a must. And by free time I mean time spent alone, with your thoughts, doing exactly whatever it is you like doing best. It's not only fun to veg out all by your lonesome — it's kind of necessary for good health. As Sherri Bourg Cater, Psy.D., noted on Psychology Today, "Constantly being 'on' doesn't give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It's an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time."
If that sounds like something you need to do ASAP, then here are some ways to snatch up some more free time, feel better, and finally get a little peace.
1. Start Off With Small Chunks Of Relaxation
If you're use to having literally no time to yourself, then the very idea can feel a bit overwhelming at first. So start off small. As Ellen G. Goldman said on SparkPeople.com, "Commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of 'me' time every day. Do something (or nothing) that completely lets go of responsibilities and releases your mind, allowing you to be alone with your thoughts." Then, work up to whole evenings, and even (gasp!) whole days off. You'll be glad you did.
2. Learn How To Say "No"
Turning people down can be difficult, mostly because we convince ourselves it's mean or wrong. But this is a totally skewed way of viewing the world, and one that can get you tied up 24/7 in other people's lives. So start viewing it differently, and stop feeling bad. As Chantalle Blikman said on TinyBuddha.com, "Saying no doesn’t mean that you are being rude, selfish, or unkind." It simply means you need a little time to yourself.
3. Take Your Downtime Seriously
Start treating your downtime as an important part of your schedule. As Leslie Moser noted on TheMuse.com, "... treat your downtime activities as some of your major to-dos, setting aside time for them in the same way you would set aside time for a big meeting or a project you need to work on. Instead of penciling in an hour of 'downtime' on Wednesday night, write 'catch up on my favorite blogs with a cup of coffee' or 'take a bubble bath.'" Be specific, and then stick to it.
4. Get Rid Of Distractions
Don't let a deluge of texts and email alerts mess with your peace. Not only are they super annoying, but if you check them you'll probably end up going out, thus ruining your free-time. Tell your friends and family that your phone will be off if you anticipate they'll worry, and then enjoy your moments alone.
5. Call It Quits With Your Commitments
If your schedule is packed 24/7 with a crazy amount of extracurriculars, then it may be time to let some of them go. Sure, you probably have a great time at your book club/archery class/knitting circle. But if you're constantly running from one activity to the next without any downtime, even fun hobbies can start to become their a chore. So choose which ones mean the most, and skip out on the rest.
6. Outsource Part Of Your To-Do List
Chores are a huge killer of free time. Of course they need to get done, but sometimes cleaning can get out of hand and end up taking the whole day. When that looks like it's going to be the case, see if you can split things up with someone you live with. No roommate? There are always services like TaskRabbit that let you hire someone to help you out. Then grab a lemonade and kick back.
7. Do Your Banking Online
By now most of us have online banking and automatic bill pay. But if you don't — get it now. Once you have your finances set up online, you'll never have to waste time making trips to the bank, or writing out check, ever again.
8. Create A Daily Ritual
Start developing some daily habits that center around you, and only you. As Goldman suggested, "This can be a bath, listening to music, taking a walk or meditating. Make it something you can look forward to." Let it become a habit so no matter what, you're guaranteed at least that amount of "me" time per day.
9. Start To Enjoy Your Commute
Sometimes free time is truly hard to come by. When that's the case, you have to make the most of your semi-free time, like during your commute. If you don't have time to read before bed, bring your book along on the train. Or if you can't squeeze in that evening class you've been dying to take, get the audiobook and listen in the car. You could even use apps to meditate or learn a new language while you travel — as long as you're not driving to work. Soon those boring two hours will be your favorite time of the day.
10. Venture Out On Your Own
I know I just said don't go overboard with the hobbies. However, joining a club that gets you out of the house can be a really good idea. If you live with someone and need time away, for instance, taking a class or going to a meet up can be just the solution you need.
11. Eat Lunch All By Your Lonesome
Lunch is the perfect time to snag a bit of peace and quiet. As noted in an article on Lifehack.org, "Try sneaking away for a quiet lunch alone on a park bench or even in your car. Enjoy some quiet time with no one to talk to and no audio inputs." Once your break is over, you'll be refreshed and ready to go back to work.
And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Being refreshed, and making sure you have plenty of time to rest, recharge, and focus on those personal things that matter most to you.
Images: Pexels (12)