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How can I make time for myself when I should be doing other things?

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A couple of questions came up in the less-stuff Facebook group about making time.

“How can I create time for working on my mental health when all other matters feel more pressing?”

“How can I make time when I keep being asked to do things like form filling and change electricity suppliers and stuff?”

This post is about how I cope with being really busy.

There might be some strategies that help you and I’ve included a little printable so you can write a list if you feel like it.

Click on the image to download a PDF you can print out.

There are only so many hours in a day

We are all given a finite amount of time and unless you want to start eating into your sleep time (which some people do) you will need a strategy for coping with the 24 hours a day we have. If you give up on the idea of making time, that takes some pressure off. The goal now is to manage your time.

Here are 3 ways to manage your time better:

Prioritise

A list of a thousand things can be so daunting that none of them get done. Pick the top 3, choosing a couple of quick ones and one longer more intricate task. Do not panic! You cannot do them all at once and the only way forward is to make a start.

Get the quick things done first

There is something affirming and good for the self esteem in ticking an item off a list. If something will only take you a few minutes, get it done now. I sometimes put easy ones on my list just so I can tick them off. Got out of bed? That is a winning move in my book.

Break the big tasks down

On my list at the moment is ‘remove wallpaper’. This sounds like a simple enough task but it is actually the difficult to remove woodchip that seems to be gluing my walls together. So it is now broken down into ‘remove wallpaper from one wall in the bedroom’. This keeps it manageable. I can do it in a couple of hours. I can clean it up in half an hour and if I do one wall a week I’ll have finished it in a month, without getting stressed out about it. If I feel like stripping an entire wall is too much I’ll break it down more. Fill the steamer, locate bin bags, take the wallpaper scraper upstairs, move out the chest of drawers…… each one of these is going to help me get to the finish line.

What are you doing in the gaps?

I can hear you shouting at this, thinking ‘there are no gaps’. There will be. What do you do when you boil the kettle? What are you doing when you are waiting for the iron to heat up? Throughout the day there will be little spaces. You can use these to be productive, or to remember to breathe. In fact, breathing might lead to productivity. There may be times in the day when you are waiting for a bus, or in a traffic jam. These are ideal times to practice a bit of mindful breathing.

Try stopping

Being hyper productive sounds great but I’ve never met anyone who can sustain it. We all need rest and down time. This fits in very well with advice from the Procrastination Coach who suggests the Freeze Technique.

Remember to reward yourself

Rewards are not just for children! Go out for a lovely coffee, call a friend or run a bubble bath. Do something lovely for yourself because you have been a good adult today. Read this post for a list of clutter free treat ideas.

I did a grown up thing today sticker

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