I have no time for myself

There are times as a counselor that I’ll notice a trend of similar struggles with my clients. More often than not, I find these similarities tie into whatever season we are in.

Since we are at the beginning of Summer, scheduling seems to be an area that many of my clients seem to be struggling with. More specifically, feeling overwhelmed, over tired and frustrated.

I have no time for myself

I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled myself with finding the rhythm that works best for my own family! Here are 5 way to find more “me time” in your schedule this Summer:

1 – DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS, NSTAGRAMMERS, YOUR OWN MOM, YOUR NEIGHBOR, ERIN CONDREN, ETC. Sorry for the caps, but I wanted to say it nice and loud for the people in the back.

The other day I logged into Facebook and saw the most beautiful Summer schedule I’ve ever seen! It was detailed, well thought out, and even color coded. My jaw hit the floor. After the initial “I wish I could do that” thoughts rolled around, I tried to be more realistic and less self deprecating. I am a working mom and this schedule in particular was made by an amazing stay at home mom who wanted some order when all the older kiddos would be joining her at home every day. Even on my best week, I couldn’t devote the time to the plethora of activities she had planned! And that’s ok! Instead of comparing my would be schedule to hers, I decided to take one thing I liked about it, and added that to our own Summer schedule. If you allow yourself some grace as you get started, you can avoid the trap of comparison and stagnation.

2 – Find the scheduling calendar, app, or platform that works best for YOU!

I mentioned Erin Condren because I LOVE her planners. I really do. I however, am not super consistent with keeping a paper planner throughout the year. After spending entirely too much money one year on a planner, stickers, and post it notes that I never use, I had to accept that I needed to try something else.

Lately I’ve settled into a 3 part method, which sounds complicated, but it’s honestly what works for us after trial and error!

  • Shared calendar on our iphones – my husband and I have access to a shared calendar in order to quickly add things like changes in our work schedules, family and friend birthdays, and even payment dates for credit cards. It’s definitely the most detailed one we have. I love the iphone calendar because you can set reminders/alarms, add notes, and it automatically updates on traffic if you add in the address, and also…emojis 🙂
  • Simple paper calendar (TJ Maxx!) for work – I use this to keep track of booking my client sessions. It’s easy to lock away at the office, add hand written reminders for myself, and I can easily shred the whole thing at the end of the year. Nobody else needs or wants to see my work checklists, so I like to keep it separate. As an added bonus, I get a lot of satisfaction when I cross things out with a single line when I finish something. As a side rant…did you know there are monsters people out there that check things off or even scribble things out instead???
  • Large white board monthly calendar – This is kept on our fridge and has more “fun” family events coming up like vacations, date night, planned family dinners, etc. If there’s something we don’t want to miss, it goes straight into the whiteboard! It’s hard to ignore something hung at eye level every time you enter the kitchen.

3 – Find, arrange, or ask for help to make your “me time” fit into your schedule every single week!

A session I love to do with clients is writing down and talking over what their actual schedule is like on a typical day, going hour to hour. I find that as they talk through their schedule, I can gauge what areas of day are most stressful just by how their tone of voice changes. You’d think the schedule itself would show that, but it’s not always the length of the event itself that causes the feeling of exhaustion. Sometime’s it’s the chaos of preparation, or even the annoyance of agreeing to something they really don’t want to do which comes out more in the description than on pen and paper. What’s interesting is that sometimes, by looking at hour to hour, clients may visually notice and find available time slots they may not have realized are there, or could be there, with a little bit of tweaking.

Finding this “me time” is so important, but if you can’t find it in your current schedule, re-arranging and making the time might be a good initial goal to set. Getting up an hour earlier one day, combining activities (ex: studying while walking the treadmill at the gym) to create a new block of time, combining breaks/lunch at work for a larger block of time off the clock to relax if possible, brainstorm until you find a solution that allows for creating the space for those personal moments.

One thing my husband and I started doing around the time we had our son was being intentional about asking “is there anything you want to do today” or “is there anything you want to do this week?” It cues us both into arranging our schedules so one of use can plan on watching our son, so the other can have personal time. Working out, Target run, lunch with a friend, even taking a nap! Whatever it is, we try and make it work as best we can. If you need to ask for help, but feel guilty, try a reciprocal arrangement with a family member or a friend where you both help each other create more “me time”.

4 – Social Media Experiment

Ok…take a minute and go to your phone settings. If I glance at my cellular data and battery usage I can get a pretty good estimate of what apps I spend most of my time on…you know where I’m going with this…If you are really struggling with finding time for yourself, do me a favor any delete 1-2 of your most used social media apps. Do it for a day, a week, whatever you want to commit to and see if you are able to find a little more time for yourself. You will quickly realize how often you open social media apps every time you find yourself looking for it! During the experiment, jot down the times you find yourself looking for the app most often. These might be time periods that can be used in a different way once you become more aware of when you’d normally be scrolling social media apps.

5 – Write down everything, even the silly stuff.

There are some things you may want to get done, that maybe seem too “silly” to add to your calendar system. A study by Dr. Gail Matthews on goal setting found that 62% of participants in a group that wrote down their goals or action steps actually completed them, or were at least half way there by the end of the study. This is compared to 43% of participants in a group that didn’t write anything down and only thought about their goals. In another group that wrote down there goal AND shared it with a friend, 76%  of the participants either completed the goal or were at least half way there by the end.

S E V E N T Y – S I X percent, that is incredible!

I loved reading about this study because the goals were so varied. From selling a house to learning a new skill, there wasn’t a limit to the types of goals that were set. I think what we can take away from this study is the value of scheduling in the activities that may seem silly, but long term really matter to you and your emotional health…

If you want to do a face mask one week, or have been wanting a warm bubble bath, write it down. You will be more likely to find the time in your schedule.

If you want to watch a youtube series on gardening, write it down. Maybe you don’t have enough time to get that garden going this year, but you’ll have that much more knowledge on how to prepare for next year.

If you want to take a nap, yup, you guessed it, write it down. You have now planned for it, so NO GUILT, and take that nap. You mind and body will be that much more renewed as a result.

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Here’s to prioritizing self care and finding your “me time” this Summer! If you’ve got any other tips, leave them in the comments for anyone who may be looking for a new approach to try.

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