It is a common problem of the age to be starved of time for yourself. We live with a set of economies based on productivity, and so they are designed not to let us off the hook. Our lives are organised so that we have only just enough money to pay our bills, and have to put in extra work in order to make ends meet. This is not true of everyone, but it is true of very many people.
I’m going to focus briefly on three recommendations, which may help in defending your own time.
DIARISE YOUR ME TIME
Me time doesn’t write itself in your diary. Most people only diarise commitments to others. For these people, me time is simply what is left when everything else has had a piece of you. This is like having a food cupboard, and letting everyone you know dip into it before you feed yourself… by this method, your personal time is likely to be unpredictable. In particular, at busy times, when you need me time the most, you are likely to end up with none.
I recommend that you define personal activities for your diary, and give them a name. It doesn’t matter if it says ‘walk in the woods’ or ‘coffee out’ – just give it a name, any name. Ideally, name the place and time very specifically – this prevents it getting stolen by social or work activities.
DEFEND YOUR ME TIME ASSERTIVELY
If you’re feeling down, then it is extra hard to be assertive with others, and it is difficult not to feel guilty when you deny other people space in your life. But if you don’t put your foot down, then you are only building up problems for later. And if your friends don’t understand your need for me time, then are they really friends you can rely on for health?
I recommend that you defend your me time firmly, and simply treat it as a health matter. Don’t give in to any emotional blackmail.
BE PREPARED TO EARN LESS AND SPEND LESS
This is a hard one. Your life may be linked to others who depend on you, and will fight to persuade you to earn more. But, in order to clear time, you need to make sure that you are not compelled by necessity to use all your time up working.
We tend to have living standards at or just above our means. This is partly because our society advertises at us until we give in to purchases. Holidays, home improvements, clothes… all these things take up financial space in our lives, and the penalty is we run out of free time, because we have to earn the money to pay for all these commitments.
I recommend that you begin a process of scaling down your life, so that your material possessions and commitments do not dominate you financially.
Many economies are founded on making us work more and play less. This starves us of me time.
Try doing these three things:
Diarise your me time
Defend your me time assertively
Be prepared to earn less and spend less