It is such a simple word—only four letters, completely unassuming and only worth a measly six points in Scrabble. But yet, this teeny-tiny pitiful word is a complete game changer.
Every day we add a little bit more onto our plate of “to do,” “want to do” and “need to do”—but are never able to add any more time to our day. So with each thing we add, we have to take more time away from the items that were already there—from ourselves, from our children, from our spouses, from our sleep, from our friends, everything. Little by little, we add so much onto our “to do” list that we run out of time for ourselves.
I stopped making “me” a priority. I borrowed time from my sleep time, I stopped taking breaks and lunches at work, and I always had multiple things going at once just to feel like I wasn’t wasting time. Working on my business via my cell phone while cooking dinner, catching up on our days with my hubby, helping kids with homework, cleaning something and teaching the dog a new trick.
It was a completely unbalanced balancing act.
In the end—when the time caught up to me and when I stopped taking that time for myself—I was a shell of who I was. I was me on the outside—an unshaven, pathetic-looking me, but still me. Hair looked dull, skin looked old, and my spirit felt tired. My laughter sounded foreign to my own ears, and I’d refrain from being noticed by anyone. On the inside, I had become a stranger. I’d catch glimpses of her, only to be thrown back into a spiral of depression and anxiety all over again.
So “time” took on a new meaning for me. To make things feel more manageable and less overwhelming, I restructured myself and my brain to handle all I needed to get done and wanted to do. I had to learn that some things didn’t need to be handled today, and others had to be handled today. I learned to make exceptions. For me, T.I.M.E. now means: “Today I Make an Exception.”
This doesn’t mean I stopped going to work or gave less to my family—I just learned to rely less on myself for doing it all. I utilized my family and their wanting to help, I overlooked the lack of perfection in my home, and I stopped hitting snooze five times in the morning before I dragging myself out of bed.
These are my T.I.M.E. changes, for making a better and healthier me for myself and those around me:
>> Wake up 15 minutes earlier. That 15 minutes can allow you to hit snooze once or twice, or catch up on the news before you start your day, or even just enjoy the sound of the quiet house in the morning. That 15 minutes give you some free time to process the day ahead of you, with a clear mind and fresh eyes.
>> Stop telling yourself you are too busy to eat breakfast. Your body needs fuel to do all of the things you want it to do. You wouldn’t expect your car to run on no gas, so why push yourself to that extreme?
>> Write down all of the “to-do” items you are wanting to tackle that day. Do they all have to be done that day, or can one or two wait until a day you are less busy? Yes, you want to clean the house today, but you are completely slammed with work commitments and family events, so don’t overwhelm yourself.
>> Be present in conversations with friends, family and co-workers. Don’t let your mind be think about all the different things you could or should be doing, because you being present (even if for only five minutes) is exactly where you should be.
>> Allow yourself to have some space. If at any point in your day you just feel like you are imploding, or the world around you is caving in, it is time for a break. Go for a walk, play with your animals, have a cup of tea, meditate, do a few yoga poses—pick something you enjoy, and allow yourself to fully embrace it for a good 15 minutes. You have the time.
>> Learn to say no. The word no is a complete sentence, and you do not have to explain your why when saying no to something. The word no helps you prioritize what is truly important in your life, so you are not overextending yourself to brink of insanity. It is hard to say no—you never want to let anyone down or hurt feelings, but just as you are learning to make yourself a priority, others are too.
I make an exception for the things and people that matter—and everything else still gets my time, just in a different order and maybe not today. And that is perfectly okay. Continue to be perfectly imperfect, by being the authentic you daily.
Author: Jennifer Janoss
Image: Flickr/Russ Sanderlin
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina