Get up earlier in the morning
It doesn’t have to be crazy early, even fifteen minutes can help make a difference in giving yourself some time. Right now, as I am unable to go to the gym, I don’t get up an hour before everyone to make the 6am class. As school starts, I plan to be up fifteen minutes before I have to get everyone going. I want the time to enjoy a cup of coffee, check my email and peruse Facebook as I wake up. If I want to carve out the time for a shower, I might make it thirty minutes, no more! I still enjoy my sleep and am unwilling to give up too much time. But, that slow wake up, easing into my day will start things off on the right foot and I’ve also given myself a few minutes to enjoy mindless pleasure.
Go to bed earlier at night
This is my reading time. As a rule of thumb I don’t get time to read during the day (see #3 for my exception) and so I try to go to bed fifteen minutes earlier than planned and I don’t allow myself electronics. No Facebook, no email, no texting. I read. This is one of my pleasures I don’t get to enjoy that often and I need to carve out some me time to read.
If you don’t like to read, block out enough time to watch a favorite show, listen to part of a podcast, or whatever it is that brings you joy. Some people love the intricate coloring books and coloring each night before bed is their tranquility. Other people use that time to journal. Whatever it is, block out time to decompress before going to sleep.
I am one of THOSE people. If I show up five minutes early, I’m late. I like to be everywhere at least ten minutes early. Even tonight, writing this post, I’ve showed up for a meeting over an hour early. To be fair, I arrived so early to avoid commute traffic and I hate driving downtown at the end of the workday. So, I’m early, and writing. But, it’s given me more time.
It’s a great habit to get into though! I always keep a book in my car or purse and will read as I wait. I will arrive to pick up my kids well over fifteen minutes early and read. If, by chance I don’t have a book, there’s more mindless Facebook time, or my ultimate guilty pleasure, Clash of Clans. Yes, I’m a bit of a gamer. I just don’t have time to really play that many games anymore. It’s one of the reasons I prefer arriving early, I can carve out another tiny block of time for me.
Piggybacking on my above point, I always have a book for when I have to wait. My daughter almost always carries a journal with her everywhere. She journals. Other people I know always have their phone to handle email or simple phone calls while they wait. A few writer friends always keep an idea notebook with them and will brainstorm story ideas if they have idle time, such as waiting for a doctor’s appointment or waiting for their oil to be changed.
Keep something with you to help pass dead time. Keep something you enjoy doing, whether its crossword puzzles or needlework. It doesn’t matter. Being productive with something you ENJOY while you wait is a great way to embrace those moments rather than get impatient that you are stuck.
Make a Date
If you are married, work out a mutual break with your spouse. You each get a specific amount of time to do what you want. If you can make it weekly, awesome. If it is once a month, that’s fantastic too! Whatever you can give each other to do whatever you want is important for your mental health. If you are a single parent, try to work out a similar arrangement with a fellow parent and babysit each others kids. Taking time to be by yourself isn’t selfish.
As my kids return to school and the chaos of school, homework, sports, work, and meal times all spill together, I have to challenge myself to carve time to breathe and relax. Reading is the most relaxing hobby I have, and I will be keeping a book in my bag to read while I wait.