Are other people taking over all of your free time? That was a common theme of adults in my recent group classes. Coworkers, aging parents, children—all can take over your time. How do you claim time to meet your own needs? Fulfill your own goals? It is a real time management dilemma.
These questions came up as we explored the Second Truth of Time taught in Seeing My Time. This is the truth that time takes up space. We had just done an activity of blocking out the space in a week taken up by our commitments. This exercise concretely shows that most of us have very little open or free time in a week. How do we find time for ourselves? By setting boundaries! How do we do that?
One gentleman in the class told the group how, at his office, everyone shares an electronic calendar so that meetings can be scheduled easily. The trouble is that his open time for lunch and working on projects keeps getting taken over by other people scheduling meetings. His solution? He realized that on his calendar he needed to block out lunch and project time so that others wouldn’t think that he was “free” to schedule. So, the first step is to block out space in your week and dedicate it just for you.
Another participant, a therapist, realized she needed to follow her own advice that she easily hands out: reserve time for yourself. Put yourself first once in awhile. This woman is constantly dealing with her intense work, an aging mother, and a husband who has severe health issues requiring many trips to the doctor. She announced the need to claim some time for herself each weekend and realized that she needed to communicate her needs to her husband.
To reserve time for yourself, be sure to communicate your reasons to the significant others in your life so they don’t make plans for what they think of as your “empty” time or “shared” time. If necessary, be creative and see if you can delegate some of your tasks and commitments so that you can carve out time for yourself.
For many people, actually using time just for themselves is a very difficult thing to do. They are always putting other people first. Long ago, I learned that in order for me to have the energy and good physical and mental health my “giving to others” required, I had to first take care of myself. It is critical that we do things that restore our energy and keep us healthy.
Follow these three time management tips to schedule the time and space you need to have balance in your life. It will improve your life dramatically!
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.