Time why you punish me
Like a wave bashing into the shore
You wash away my dreams
Time why you walk away
Like a friend with somewhere to go
You left me crying
Can you teach me ’bout tomorrow
And all the pain and sorrow running free
‘Cause tomorrow’s just another day
And I don’t believe in time
Hootie and The Blowfish – Time
We have 24 hours in a day, that’s it, no more.
As much as we wish we had more time it’s just not going to happen.
In an effort to try and create more time we sacrifice self care.
Skipping the gym.
More “convenient” foods or skipping meals.
Canceling that cup of coffee with a friend or skipping your nieces birthday party.
Cut back on activities or hobbies we enjoy doing…who has time to garden with a big presentation coming up for work?
All in the name for what? What is the end goal for making these sacrifices?
Time is not a luxury we have, it is finite, it will run out.
There are more demands on our time than ever before, but that does not mean we don’t control our time, and that we need to sacrifice it for other peoples benefit.
Many people unknowingly give up control of their day and find themselves satisfying everyone else’s needs instead of their own.
Eventually the lack of attention to oneself plays out in the form of health issues. The poor eating, lack of movement, high stress, poor sleep and lack of social connection catches up with us and we find ourselves overweight, tired, and frazzled, with a doctor telling us if we don’t do something soon we will end up developing some serious health conditions.
At this point though it’s hard to reverse course. We have allocated our time to so many other people that there are now expectations that force us to keep going.
What if we break those expectations? What will people think of us? The social perception of saying “no” and putting yourself before others can be a scary thing, no doubt about that.
Before we talk about how to address that fear let’s first understand where your time is allocated so we can assess how to find more time for YOU!
This exercise is pretty simple, for a week I want you to track how you spend your time.
Much like tracking your food can be eye opening, so can be tracking your time. Lots of times I ask people how they spend their day and they can’t identify a huge time sink. I think that’s the case for a lot of people because what happens is they are jumping around from thing to thing throughout the day…it’s never one thing…it’s ALL THE THINGS.
Tracking your time can be done pretty simply just using a pen and paper. On a piece of paper write out all the hours of the day, from midnight to midnight. Here is a simple worksheet from Precision Nutrition that you can print and use if you don’t want to create your own.
For each hour or half-hour increment write down what you do. That’s it.
Once you have done this for 7 days go back and review what you did. Find things that stand out.
How much of your time is dedicated to sleep?
How much time is dedicated to TV and social media?
How much time is dedicated to work?
How much time is dedicated to kid activities?
How much time is dedicated to spending time with your friends and family?
How much time is dedicated to self care activities like preparing and eating healthy meals, activities that “fill your bucket”, exercise and movement?
Before doing this activity you might think your time looks like this…
After doing this activity you might come to the realization that your time actually looks like this…
Now if we look at all the things you do in a day how much of your time is spent on your self care vs spent on others? Does the balance seem off? Are there things you want to do but can’t because you are giving time away to others or for others benefit?
So how do we take your current time allocation and change it to be something you are more happy with?
First there are going to be non-negotables in your list…both good and bad.
Sleep is an obvious example of a non-negotiable, you are not going to cut back on that.
Wiping butts is another example of a non-negotiable. As much as we maybe wish we didn’t have to wipe butts if you are a parent to an infant there is no way around this.
However, there should be things that we can either modify or eliminate completely to gain more time for the things we want to do.
Anxiety and resentment are good examples of this. If you are spending time taking in media that is just causing you to be anxious, it’s probably best you eliminate that time sink.
Same can be said with resentment, if you are taking the burden for others so they can get their own self care in and no one is returning the favor to you that can cause a lot of resentment. What if the next time your spouse asks you to watch the kids so they can go to the gym you gladly accept, but also ask your spouse to watch the kids later in the week so you can go to yoga (or other self care activity you want to do).
See that gala event you said yes to but don’t want to go? If you really don’t want to go to it DON’T!. I like the saying “If it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a HELL NO!” Your time is too precious to be doing things you don’t want to do.
Then we have things like “chauffeuring the kids”. Obviously if your kids have places they need to be then you need to get them there…but does it need to be you that does it all the time? Maybe your spouse can jump in and help or you can ask a parent of another child if they want to bring all the kids some days and you swap on other days. Again you can say yes to these things, but can you trade off the responsibility with someone else so you can get more time for yourself on some days?
Another standout time sink is “cooking meals no one likes”. Why are we doing that? No one is benefiting from it. So let’s change that to cooking meals that benefits everyone…including yourself! What do you want to eat? How can you make something that is healthy and your family likes as well?
Finally are there things you can outsource? Now this might not be accessible to everyone as it often requires the financial means to do so but spending some extra money to have someone else do the work might be a fair trade if it allows you to do something more productive with your time.
Here is an example from my own life. I used to spend 2 hours every week in the spring and summer mowing my lawn…but I hated it! I mean I really hated doing it. Eventually after a few years of suffering through it I decided it was worth more to me to pay someone to cut my grass and get the 2 hours back to do something that was more meaningful to me and I haven’t looked back since!
Now that we have carved out time in your day by taking back some of your precious time, it’s time to insert the things that are going to support your goals.
You should now have time to add in some exercise, do some meal prep to make sure you have the food you need to make all those healthy meals you have wanted to make, and maybe even have a time for some additional self care like hobbies you have been ignoring like meditation, time out with your friends, maybe even a massage.
Next you need to commit! All of this work is only worth it if you actually do the things you intend to do!
This is where people fall short because they say “Oh I will go to the gym tomorrow during my lunch break now that I have all this free time!”
Tomorrow comes, it’s 11:30 right before lunch and you all of a sudden get an important email that sends you down a rabbit hole and before you know it it’s 2 PM and you haven’t had lunch nor did you make it to the gym!
How do we solve this problem?
My suggestion is to schedule it! Put it in your calendar, treat it like you would any other appointment in your calendar! I have written about this topic before, you can check out that post here. Believe me, if you schedule the things you want to do, you will be more likely to do them!
Your time may never look like the fantasy picture, but that is OK it doesn’t need to in order for you to reach your goals. You are always going to have to “wipe butts” (well not always, but there is always something you are going to need to do that you don’t want to). The point is you do not need to be giving your time to support everyone else with nothing left over for yourself. Take back control of your time and insert the things to help you reach your goals. To learn more about how to transform your current life to support your health and wellness goals sign up for my newsletter using the form below. Each week I will send you actionable information you can use to get where you want to be!