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The Hidden Secret for Scheduling ‘Me’ Time + 5 Ways to Start and Stick with It

 
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Life had gotten out of control. In the span of two months, the following happened:

  • Mr. Blographer had a back injury so bad we spent a day at the ER and it left him unable to move by himself for days. Limited mobility for at least a month, and lots of pain and trouble carrying on normal activities two months later.  
  • Mr. Blographer had a minor surgical procedure that left him unable to do much for a few days.
  • A second trip to the emergency room for Little E who had a scary fall. 
  • Add in an almost 2-year-old, a dog, two cats and working my regular job.

 

Writing it out it doesn’t seem like all that much but living it proved to be another story. I was the primary caretaker for EVERYTHING. A role which I would gladly do again because I love my family, but one that is demanding and stressful at times. Yes, we had wonderful people who helped with chores, meals, watching Little E. I was/am grateful for a boss who was understanding and willing to let me have a flexible schedule.

 

But after those two months, I was BURNT OUT.

 

I was tired. I was stressed. Anxious. Struggling.

 

It dawned on me one day that I couldn’t remember the last time I had stopped to take any time for myself. Something that I’m usually a pretty big advocate of for myself and others. But of course in the thick of things the concept is easier said than done.

 

But it is precisely those moments that are the toughest when you need it most.

 

 

At the time I realized this, I was in the mindset that I didn’t have any time to take for myself (something I’m guessing some of you have also thought). People had to be cared for. Chores had to be done. Meals made. But I knew that for my own sanity and mental health, this needed to happen.

 

So, I created and started implementing a ’10 minutes a day’ rule, or in ‘normal’ terms, me time.  

 

I started with taking 5 minutes in the mornings, and 5 minutes in the evening for myself, to do something I like to do.

 

This included, but was not limited to:

  • Walking around my garden
  • Light stretching (Youtube has great restorative/yin yoga videos)
  • Going for a very short walk
  • 2-minute guided meditations
  • Reading
  • Photography
  • Drinking coffee/tea on my porch

 

 

This did NOT include:

  • Anything on my to-do list
  • Checking email
  • Anything social media related (in fact, I didn’t even have my phone with me)
  • Cleaning/Chores
  • Caring for anyone but myself
  • Basically, anything I felt I ‘HAD’ to do

 



 

Why Start Small?

 

Have you ever read the book Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise? If not, I would HIGHLY recommend it. The idea behind a ‘Mini Habit’ is that you start with something so small it seems ridiculous. For example, the author, Stephen Guise wanted to start exercising more. He had tried all the motivational methods out there but was not able to get into the habit. One day, he decided to start with one push up. Just one. Nothing more, nothing less. Without going into too much detail (perhaps in another post), Guise made a goal from then on to do one push-up a day. Eventually, he worked his way up to more and more, and that turned into incorporating other exercises into his routine, and soon enough, he was exercising regularly!

 

The idea is to essentially trick your brain into getting started. In the push-up example, Guise knew he would do one push-up. It was almost more ridiculous not to do one push-up. Of course, some days he did more once he completed his ‘one’. The reason I started with 10 minutes is that it was a time limit that I felt was doable with how my life was going at that time and a time-frame that I would stick with. 5 minutes in the morning and evening almost seemed a ridiculously short amount of time to commit to self-care. But of course, like in the push-up example, there were days that I committed more time.  

 

 

As soon as I started implementing this, I honestly noticed a difference. More importantly, I starting noticing on the days that I DIDN’T do it. Yes, even with just 5 minutes in the morning and in the evening. It started my mornings off on a calm and positive note, and the evenings ended the same way. That in itself made a lot of difference.

 

In conversation with family members and friends, they mention that they have trouble prioritizing time for themselves, and I think this is an issue for a lot of others out there too. Even though I sometimes need to be reminded as well, I do think it is extremely important, and the research showing the benefits are plentiful.

 

Don’t believe me? Check out a couple of examples below:

 

Now that I have developed the habit, I look forward to my ‘10 minutes a day’, especially my time in the morning. I am a morning person and love waking up before everyone else when it is still quiet and calm. I love making my coffee, exercising, walking through my garden, or just relaxing with a book. As I said above, it really makes a big difference in my day. Of course, I have my mornings where I enjoy sleeping in, or staying in bed and reading or cuddling with my cat. And that is OK too!

 

 

Here are 5 steps to start implementing the ‘10 minutes a day’ rule into your routine and stick  with it:

  • Set time aside – Start with an amount of time that is realistic for you. As much as an hour in the morning and evening sounds amazing, that would not have been a realistic time for me and because of that, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with my ‘me’ time. Start with a small amount of time to allow yourself to get into the habit of doing it, and to start noticing the benefits. This way, you’re more likely to stick with it.

 

  • Make a list – Write down a short list of activities you want to do during your ‘me’ time. That way if you’re tempted to use that time to clean, for example, you can quickly go back to your ‘me time’ list and get back on track.

 

  • Buddy up – Tell a family member or friend who can help keep you accountable of your ‘10 minute a day goal’, or, bonus, do it with you! Ask this person to check in with you once a day, twice a week, whatever schedule you want.  Have them ask you what activities you did, and how you felt/feel afterward.

 

  • Add more time – Once you start getting into the habit, work on extending your time!

 

  • Write it down – if you are someone who likes to journal, a good accountability method would be to write down how much time you spent, what you did, and how you felt afterward. If you’re ever in doubt about spending the time for yourself, you can look back and be reminded why you should!

 

Having ‘me’ time is so important, and something that seems to be somewhat rare these days. People feel guilty for doing it, or, like me, have a hard time taking ‘me’ time when there are so many other things to get done. But those things will be there, waiting, when you’re done with your ‘me’ time. I promise. But you will be in a much better place to tackle them.  

 

 

All photographs in post © Ld Nature Photography | 2017 and cannot be used without written consent.

 

What types of activities do you like to do during your ‘me’ time? Do you have any tips for making sure you are able to take time for yourself? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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27 Comments on "The Hidden Secret for Scheduling ‘Me’ Time + 5 Ways to Start and Stick with It"

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Megan Dennis
Guest

Starting out small is a great idea! The pushup is an excellent example because like you said it seems ridiculous to not do it. My problem is saying I only have 5 minutes but extending it haha. One thing I have found helpful is to get done everything (or most of the things) on my to do list and that makes “me time” much more relaxing when I’m not thinking about all the things I have to get up and do!

Dagmara
Guest

Self-care is so important, so we have the energy to take care of others around us. I always say self-care is similar to what you see on those signs on an airplane, make sure you have an oxygen supply first then help your kids. How can you help another person when you are not present, and exhausted. I am glad that you decided to take some time to yourself. thank you for sharing your tips.

Liz
Guest

Great post! So very true. I’m going to have to start taking my 10 minutes a day. AND NOT FEELING GUILTY ABOUT IT! Caps was for me not you, LOL 😉 I’m kinda serious though. I seem to always think about everything else I need to get done, or beating myself up for what I haven’t gotten done, which really is defeating the purpose and certainly not helpful. I love your idea of start small!

Kelsey
Guest

These are great tips. I finally had some me time today after two weeks of single parenting. I was worn out. I feel so refreshed and my husband got some time with our son.

Katie
Guest

I love Stephen Guise! Few people have influenced my personal growth more, honestly. He has amazing advice. I remember how my mind was completely blown by the pushup story when he first published an article about it! I guess I just never allowed myself to apply it to my own life. Intentional living is something I’m really trying to focus on more, so I absolutely loved these tips. Thank you for a great post!!

Kirsten @ObtainingBliss.com
Guest

YES YES!! So much this!! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told other fellow moms to take “me time” and don’t feel guilty about it! Even the a little bit helps! Fabulous post!

Katie Braswell
Guest

So very important!!! I realized this when I was having weekly break downs! When I would drop the kids off at school I would head back home to do housework, cooking, etc. Bow, I make sure to take an hour of “me” time. I head to the library, work out, drink my coffee in peace! It’s so much better when I get these times!

Jeanne
Guest

Thank you so much for the advice! I have been covered in things to do and I find it hard to have a moment to just relax. Hopefully that will change soon! 🙂

Megan Anne
Guest

These are amazing tips! I always tell people it’s important to have “me” time and these are great ways to start!

Tiffany
Guest

I love this idea of just 5 minutes at a time. I have really learned recently how important that me time is, but still struggle to make it happen a lot of the time. I’m definitely going to try this and commit!

Karla | KarlaTravels
Guest

Wow, you certainly have had to deal with so many things all at once!

Yes, taking some “Me” time is absolutely necessary even if it’s only for a few minutes!

I actually take some time away from work and go for a walk. It’s great to breathe fresh air and get some natural vitamin D or liquid sunshine but it takes your mind away and focus on the surroundings!

Life is a journey and we must make the best out of it day in, day out right?

Stay strong & all the best!

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[…] how do you start implementing a gratitude practice into your schedule? As I wrote about in this post, I’m a big fan of Stephen Guise and his book ‘Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results’. I […]

Renee
Guest

This is absolutely genius and so crucial. I forget this way too often.

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[…] reevaluating, things started to fall into place at once. I started becoming very protective of my time and of our family time. We have been very careful not to over schedule, over commit, or over do it. […]

Zahra Biabani
Guest

I recommend reading Shawn Achor’s book- The Happiness Advantage. He talks about making habits through a similar way, by reducing the activation energy it takes to complete a task until it becomes so natural that it is a habit! Great post 🙂

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