How to Make Time When There is None

Syeita Rhey-Fisher
Syeita is a teacher, author, writer and advocate for educational equity.

Sep 11,2016

Do you tend to get bogged down with aiming to be the best at what you do in every facet of your life? This can signify working long hours that extend well beyond the minimum required. This can mean taking care of and doting over your children, starting a business and/or pursuing an advanced degree. Whether you are a stay at home mom, an employee, entrepreneur or the CEO of a fortune 500 company, in many cases, money doesn’t cure those of us who are overachievers and workaholics. Satiating your overachiever appetite while tending to all of your work and personal responsibilities can leave you with no downtime. Unfortunately, this sometimes mean you neglect other things that should be as equally or more important. Things like setting aside the time for you to relax or de-stress.

Why is it important to create this time for yourself? In a Forbes article by Susan Adams on boosting productivity, she mentions that “the mind needs a break, to rest and recover before it can exert again.” Additionally, Dr. Marc Bekoff, a former professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado describes the repercussions of depriving oneself of free time or play to be “linked to criminality, obesity, and declining creativity.” I myself as an educator and teacher leader has suffered from sleep deprivation as a result of being such a workhorse. So essentially, not making time for yourself to release tension and unwind can be detrimental to your physical, social and emotional health.  

So how do you make time for yourself when there isn’t any? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Give Yourself Focus: If you really want to commit to making free time for yourself, decide on some stress-free ways you would like to spend your free time. Then narrow your list down to your top 2 or 3 choices. This will help you to stay focused on the prize.
  2. Clean House: Go through your schedule and determine what, if anything, could be removed or consolidated and get rid of distractions. Determine which activities are nonnegotiables then go from there. Focus on the passion-related pat of your work that you enjoy. Doesn’t it make sense to optimize your ability to avoid stress by doing what you love at work too?
  3. Delegate responsibilities: As hard as it is for me to say this, let go! Delegate responsibilities at work and at home to make some downtime. People (like me) can fall into that “I need to do it if I want it done right” trap or “it will be faster if I just do it myself” mentality. Read Carolyn Owens’ article here if you would like to know ways you can effectively delegate.
  4. Schedule your free time: This might sound silly, but if you are someone who has work, several projects and/or family duties that demands a significant amount of your time…schedule your free time! Decide on a certain amount of time per day or week to clear for your “me time.” Everyone’s “me time” will look different because this stress-free time is individualized for whatever helps you to personally relax. 
  5. Learn How to Say, “No.” For those of you who (to quote Liam Neeson) “have a particular set of skills” and always want to help or share them with everyone who asks, you have to learn how to say no. This can be difficult if you are someone who always put others first. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to… and you shouldn’t feel guilty about refusing to overextend yourself. If you can do this, the result equals more free time. As Ken Dunn stated in his article, Nice Guys Don’t Have to Finish Last, People who can’t say no will burn out.”

Choose any or all of the suggestions above to make time for yourself where there is none. Anymore ideas? Feel free to comment on my page.

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