Self-care requires that you create time for yourself and this may not be easy. When reading the 7 self-care tips for women, you may have wondered, “Where will I get the time? ”
In today’s article, I’ll explore ways you can create time for yourself and share strategies that have worked for me.
Where will the time come from?
Below are common areas where women lose their time easily.
A lot of women spend their evenings and weekends catching up on work that’s been neglected by the househelp. If this is you, then it’s time to STOP and take control of your household.
If your househelp leaves work for you to complete, then she is in charge and not you. You can complain, threaten, and shout at her, but nothing will change until you take charge.
A simple solution is to start by creating systems for running your household and then teach your househelp to use your systems and not hers. Replace your househelp if she cannot fit into your system and hire someone who can.
Sounds harsh? Yes, it is harsh…and it’s one of the reasons why Asians and Arabs keep househelps for years. In Asian and Arab households, the househelp uses the family’s system and is not allowed to deviate from it.
Personally, I’ve found that having systems for all the work in my house creates a better environment for everyone. This may seem strict, but the reality is that it gives us all a foundation to work from.
Having systems makes work easier to handle because everyone knows what to do and how to do it. Also, it’s easier for me to keep track and make corrections when the househelp starts slacking off.
If you have a live-in househelp and the work is too much for her, then consider hiring an extra househelp who comes in to do a thorough cleaning once or twice a month. The money you’ll pay this person is more than worth the freedom get when you create time for yourself.
2. Family, friends, and work
Start teaching your children responsibility from an early age. They can start by picking up after themselves and cleaning up their bedrooms.
My househelp doesn’t live with me and only comes to clean and wash clothes twice a week. I cook and the children take turns clearing up and washing the dishes.
I’ve taught my children (ages 14 and 12) how to make simple meals such as sandwiches, noodles, and omelets. We’re now working on simple salads and larger meals.
I work from home and them knowing how to cook saves me time when they’re home on holidays and I don’t have time to stop and make lunch.
My children started doing simple household chores 5 years ago and they wash their clothes or clean the house if need be (still haven’t mastered cleaning toilets, though…).
Having children help with housework will not just help you create time for yourself; it will also teach them to respect and appreciate domestic workers.
Husband, boyfriend or significant other
How much time do you spend picking up after your significant other? And how many of his roles and errands have become yours?
I won’t touch on picking up after him although that’s a really thorny issue for most women who find themselves in that situation. However, when it comes to roles and errands, there are changes you can make immediately.
If you have agreed on roles for each person with your partner, then let him do his part and don’t be tempted to let him slack off or hand over his roles to you as he goes out with buddies or for business networking.
Sad as it is, when women get married or commit to a relationship, many end up losing their friends and losing on promotions at work because they’re too busy on the home front.
In contrast, men who are in committed relationships rise very fast in their careers, especially if they have a Superwoman who takes care of everything at home (while being silently resentful).
Toxic friends and family
These include family and friends who take advantage of you or are always putting you down. It also includes people who complain and gossip a lot and those with a negative outlook to life.
When you say you want to make a change in your life, these people are at the forefront in a negative way – telling you how it’s not possible to achieve the change, or making snide comments about it.
Toxic people take a lot of energy and time from you and you need to dump them your life. They’re like energy vampires and feed off you until you’re drained. You don’t need them in your life anymore.
It’s almost impossible to implement a self-care system or create time for yourself when you’re in regular contact with toxic people. The moment you let go of these people, you will be free and have lots of time (and energy) for taking care of yourself.
Need some help with toxic people? Here’s an article I wrote on 8 toxic relationships you need to detox from.
3. Work and social activities
Once your family is handled, it’s time to hand back the extra roles you’ve taken up at work, with your friends and extended family, at church, in your chamas, and in your social and professional circles.
One woman whom I gave this tip recovered a lot of free hours each week as a result of giving people back their roles. Before doing this exercise, she was so busy that she used to sleep past midnight every day, had messed up her health, and alienated her family.
I also gave my mum this tip one day and she left a number of chamas she was in that were not serving her well.
If you find yourself regularly taking on other people’s slack at work or in committees you’re in, then it’s time to start speaking up for yourself so that people stop taking advantage of you.Toxic people take a lot of energy and time from you and you need to dump them from your life. Click To Tweet
4. Social media, email, the internet, texts and calls
These are some of the worst culprits when it comes to losing track of time. Here’s how you can gain control of these modern-day time thieve.
Opt out of updates and set a time of the day when you go online. Make this towards the end of the work day or on your commute home if you use public transport.
WhatsApp and Twitter are especially addictive. I recovered my evenings when I unplugged myself from Whatsapp which had taken over my life.
I’ve written a detailed article on how to reduce the time spent on Facebook and you can use these tips to take control of other social media.
Unless your job requires constant email updates, reduce your time to checking email twice a day for 15-30 minutes – at 11am and 4pm. Set a timer when checking email and stop when the timer rings. Also, systematically unsubscribe from most of the email newsletters you’ve opted into and delete unnecessary emails.
Aim for a zero-email policy in your inbox and install Unroll.me to help clean up your inbox and keep you in check. The first time I used Unroll.me, I ended up unsubscribing from 238 email lists. Now that was a real shocker!
It’s easy to get sucked into visiting more pages or following trending stories when you go online. Before you know it, the 15 minutes you had allocated yourself has turned to a whole morning…time lost that will never be recovered.
As with email, it can help if you have a specific time when you go online (with a timer of course).
Texts and calls
Phone addicts have a hard time ignoring texts and calls. They have to read messages or pick up calls. This habit will steal time from you.
Have a time in the day when you put your phone on silent mode or switch it off completely if you’re not in emergency services.
Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops have made life easier and communication more accessible as anyone can get hold you at any time. You need to be in control of these gadgets and not have them run your life.
Here are some strategies that have worked for me. Note that I’m an extreme introvert so some of these tips may not work for extroverts.
- Having a gadget-free policy at dinnertime: All gadgets are put off and we spend at least one hour together at dinner. This has helped improve communication in my home and I’ve gotten to know my children better.
- Separating your personal and professional communication: I have a separate business line and very few people (family, close friends, and my 1-1 clients) have my personal line, which I call my ‘secret service’ number. Having this separation has helped me unplug from work in the evenings and on days off.
- Having a communication threshold: My family and friends know that I don’t pick up calls between 6pm and 8pm as this is homework and dinner time, and my clients know that I’m not available after 5pm and on weekends unless it’s an emergency. I also treat my work time seriously and rarely make personal calls during work hours. On work days, I make or receive personal calls during breaks at 10:30am and 1:00-2:00pm.
- Removing social media updates from the personal phone: I don’t have any social media on my phone. That’s right…no Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, or any other apps. This means that when I have to connect with people, I do so directly. This strategy alone has created more time for me to write as I have free time in the evenings and on weekends; time that I used to spend with my fingers tapping away on the small phone screen.
On a funny note, my son who’s an extrovert used to get worked up when I didn’t read texts immediately and he took to waving the phone in front of my face while saying that it was rude to ignore calls and texts.
One day I got fed up and told him, “We grew up without mobiles or social media and we’d spend days waiting for letters or saving coins so as to make a call from the telephone booth.”
His response, “But mum, that was in the 1940s!” The shock was on me…because even my parents were not alive in 1940!
5. Watching soaps and other TV programs
TV programs do exactly as the name suggests. They program your mind to think in a certain way. It’s also easy to become addicted to programs and spend a lot of time in front of the TV (or the ‘idiot box’ as my sister calls it).
If there’s a TV program you like, discipline yourself to turning off the TV when the program is over. Also, find ways of having fun as a family without TV.
I find it sad when I visit people and we end up sitting to watch a Mexican soap for the rest of the visit instead of catching up and having a good time together.
TV will program you and suck the life out of you and your relationships. Use it, but with care.
6. Working without a plan or schedule
Many women wake up and hit the ground running. Their lives are an endless cycle of crises that need to be sorted.
Most of the time, such people are so frazzled and tired that they cannot stop to take a breath and relax. That used to be me until I learned the power of planning and using a daily schedule.
Here’s a planning system I’ve used for the last 4 years and it’s helped me manage my time as well:
- Yearly goals: Each year, create a list of 6 goals you want to achieve in the year. These goals cut across core areas of your life. I take 3 days off in November to evaluate the year and plan for the next year. Once the plan is done, I put it aside and fine tune it the week before Christmas.
- Monthly sub-goals: Each month, look at the yearly goals and create a list of 6 sub-goals for the month.
- Weekly targets: Monthly goals get broken into weekly targets so that you have 6 main targets to focus on each week, which are then spread out across the days of the week.
- Daily to-do list: Every evening, evaluate the work done that day and then create a to-do list for the next day. My daily to-do list never has more than 10 items, and I try as much as possible to put pending items from the previous day and the main goals for the year at the beginning of the day.
- Regular evaluation:
- At the end of the week, evaluate the week and create the next week’s plan.
- At the end of the month, evaluate what’s worked well and what needs improvement, and compare progress with the goals for the year. Do this evaluation before deciding on your goals for the new month so that you don’t leave things hanging from previous months.
Using this system, each day’s work feeds into the week’s targets; each week feeds into the month’s goals, and each month feeds into the year’s goals.
Having a plan and schedule will keep you focused on what’s important and make your life easier. You’ll also be able to eliminate time wasters and deliberately create time for yourself.
You can find a detailed explanation of my planning system in the article on how to achieve your goals effectively with 90-day goal setting.
Need some more inspiration?
Here are articles with additional tips on how to create more time for yourself:
- Make more time for yourself
- 20 ways to make more time for yourself
- 8 ways to put yourself on your priority list
- Reclaim your time
- How to find time for yourself
If your life is not as happy and fulfilling as you’d like it to be, then it means that you’re looking for happiness and fulfillment outside of yourself instead of creating it from within.
You need to become a priority in your life. And it starts with creating time to take care of yourself and doing things you love.
What is one thing you’ll do or have done to create time for yourself? I’d love to hear from you so please share with us in the Comments.
(Image credit: saphatthachat at Free Digital Photos)