“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” - Leo Christopher
Time seems to be one of those things that we can have too much of and yet not enough of at the same time. As the clock turns and we continue to live our busy lives, more and more demands for our time are placed upon us and the harder it becomes to balance our time and feel like we are ahead of the game.
It is easy to get bogged down with things to do and feel like there is never enough time. Maybe your work has asked you for overtime hours, or maybe your kids need you to help drive them to dance practice for extra rehearsals. Or maybe you just take a look at your calendar and feel overwhelmed by all of events and activities you have booked. Before you know it, your schedule gets even busier, your plan for life has completely changed, and later on when you have a moment, you stop and wonder – what just happened? Where did all my time go?
I know how this feels. It is something we all struggle with. And it is something I see often in my work. In fact, here are some of the most common statements I hear from people who are struggling to balance their time:
“There just aren’t enough hours in the day!”
“I wish I had more time to spend with my family/friends/partner, but I just don’t know how to make it all work”
“I can’t even remember the last time I did something for myself”
Any of these statements sound familiar?
Trust me, if so, you are not alone.
Many of us feel that, despite being pulled in all directions, we still are not accomplishing all the things we set out to do. This can be particularly noticeable way when major events out of our control, like COVID-19 change our schedules and the way we approach life, Suddenly we have to make huge, difficult adjustments, like working from home, attending school virtually, and everything else that comes with a pandemic. After all, being home more does not necessarily mean you have more free time.
And if you are in a relationship or a parent in the age of COVID-19, it can be especially difficult to balance how much time you are spending with your loved ones and how much you are spending on yourself. Each of us have unique needs regarding how much time we need to spend practicing self-care, and how much we need to spend with others to feel fulfilled in our relationships.
So how do we do it? How can we effectively balance how we spend our time in a way that we feel both rested and accomplished at the end of the day?
Here are a 5 simple practices to help you feel more balanced in control of your time:
1) Begin the day with a planned pause. Take 10-15 minutes or as much as you are able to when you wake up to prepare yourself for the day. Whether that looks like sitting quietly on the couch with your partner and a cup of coffee, or taking the dog for a solo walk, make a little time to start the day off on the right foot.
2) Use a planner. Many of our phones come with a calendar app, or a good old-fashioned paper planner can be bought from the dollar store for cheap. At the beginning of the week, think about who you want to spend time with this week, look at your schedule, and pencil it into your calendar.
3) Be honest with yourself. Are you a little more introverted or extroverted? Introverts tend to prefer time to recharge alone, while extroverts tend to like to recharge socially. Ask yourself honestly, “what helps me feel rested?”
4) Remind yourself that it is okay to say no. If you are invited to a get-together with friends but you had a rough day at work, or you feel you need spend time with someone else like your family or your partner, acknowledge that need. Remind yourself that you can’t – and don’t need to - please everyone.
5) Talk about your needs/wants. Sometimes we can make the mistake of expecting the ones we love to just intuitively know we need more or less time with them. No one is a mind reader, and if we open up in our relationships about our needs, we then create space for our loved ones to feel safe doing so, too.
We may not be able to control how fast or slow time goes, but we can certainly control how we spend it each day. Remember that even if you are unhappy with the way your life is currently balanced or unbalanced, each day is a new opportunity to try doing things differently. And with these simple changes, the next time you stop and look back on life, you can feel accomplished and satisfied that the days didn’t just pass you by – instead, you chose how you spend them.
If you find yourself struggling with balancing how you spend your time or are unsure how to talk about your needs/wants in your relationships, don’t worry, we can help!