Did you know that the lack of ‘me’ time is a bigger cause of unhappy marriages than even less-satisfying sex lives? Bet that would be surprising for most of us. But in our over-scheduled lives where we constantly live inside a ‘busyness bubble’, one activity that always gets the short drift is ‘taking time out for ourselves’. Rather, it appears selfish to be ditching other so called important tasks, just to spend some time alone, doing just what we like or doing nothing at all for that matter.
‘Me time’ days are becoming the new corporate trend
LinkedIn calls them InDays, adventure gear brand REI calls them ‘yay days’, while a few others refer me time days as “Ferris Bueller” days – taking a cue from the 1986 American teen comedy film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Corporates are increasingly waking up to the benefits of ‘me’ time – from improving cognitive focus, to boosting productivity, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and paving the way for better work-life balance, me time does it all.
Why ‘me time’ should be your #1 priority
#1 Take five: Even if five minutes is all you can manage, make it count. Engage in deep breathing exercises, go out in the sunshine, stretch your muscles, or if you’re not in the mood for any of these things – just be still. Do nothing and experience the joy of nothingness. Resist the urge to fold laundry, check email, cuddle kids, or do anything else in the time that is reserved for you alone.
#2 Set boundaries: It’s okay to say NO to things/events/friends when it’s your ‘me time’ at stake. Saying NO gracefully is an art that when learnt, can save you oodles of time and energy, without upsetting others. Over time, setting boundaries will help build your self esteem as you will treat ‘me time’ as sacred to your wellbeing and so will others.
#3 Shun the guilt: Does making yourself a priority make you feel guilty? Shouldn’t you be playing with/feeding kids/finishing household chores instead of spending those blissful 10 minutes sipping coffee looking into the sunset? It’s time you stop being a people pleaser and learn to please yourself first. Get a mindset makeover – from ‘I’m being selfish’, think ‘I deserve it’ and see the guilt associated with me time melt away.
#4 Plan ahead on what to do with ‘me time’: What a pity it would be if you carve out time from your busy schedule, only to then start looking for options of what to do in that time. Sure, there’ll be some nothing doing days, but on a larger scale, you would feel even better doing something productive, say exercising, pursuing a hobby, reading, exploring new places, etc.
#5 Outsource the time bottlenecks in your daily schedule: Does responding to email/household chores/child care eat up a big chunk of your time regularly, making it harder to carve me time? Outsource all or at least some of these activities – hire a virtual personal assistant to take care of household duties such as grocery shopping, pet care, dropping kids to school/activities, gardening, party planning, etc.
Finding work life balance and me time is all about constant exploration – what works today, may need change tomorrow. So, never stop looking for new innovative ways to make yourself a priority in your life.