Recent research has shown that high quality ‘me time’ doesn’t just improve work-life balance but also makes us more engaged at work and improves wellbeing.
Take these steps to reclaim some time for yourself and spend it doing things that you love.
1) Start small
Make a little time each day to do something purely because it gives you pleasure, whether that’s grabbing a caramel latte for a mid-afternoon boost, taking a walk in the sunshine, or making your favourite snack and enjoying it all by yourself.
2) Take control of your time
People know that you usually say ‘yes’, so as a result they’re always asking for favours, or moving meetings or appointments to suit them better. Block time out in your diary to just get on with your work, and if someone tries to interrupt, ask them to come back at a time that works for you.
3) Practise saying “no”
Start refusing things that you don’t have time for or that don’t really fall under your remit, and turn away jobs that just aren’t worth it. This doesn’t have to be a negative or confrontational experience: explain why it’s not going to work, recommend someone else for the job, and wish them luck with their project. As others start to realise that you’re no longer the ‘go to’ person, they’ll stop coming to you with a constant stream of side projects.
4) Mix things up
Combine work tasks with things you enjoy: take that boring pile of business admin to a nice coffee shop, or take your meeting outside and try walking and talking. This is a good way of making tasks work for you, and weaving some pleasure through your work day.
5) Switch off
Our research showed that almost half of small business owners regularly cancel social plans because of work pressures, and a fifth can’t afford to take a single day of holiday this summer. Try to set some boundaries so that you’re not constantly on call and you have some genuine time to yourself. Switch off email notifications when you’re not working and be precious about social time and holidays.
6) Make your schedule work for you
It’s easier to justify ‘me time’ if you’re really industrious during the hours that you’re working. Shape your schedule around the times that you’re most productive: some people are early birds and others are night owls. Try to get the bulk of your concentration-heavy work done during the time of day when you’re at your best, and arrange meetings or more mundane tasks for the hours when you’re fuzzier.
7) Enjoy your downtime
Once you’ve reclaimed a bit of time for yourself, it’s time to fill it with things that you actually enjoy. The research shows that it’s the quality rather than the quantity of ‘me time’ that makes the difference, so avoid packing your time off with chores and dutiful family visits and do something purely leisurely instead. Even better, take up a new hobby that you love so that you’ve got something fulfilling to pursue when you’re not working.