Are there never enough hours in the day?
Do you sometimes get overwhelmed?
Do you always find time to help others?
And yet, do you wish you had more time for yourself?
There’s a saying – “If you want something done, ask a busy person”.
I used to be very proud of being that busy person, always willing to fit something else into my packed schedule, especially to help someone else.
Now I prefer to have more balance.
And so, how can you make more time for yourself and still get the work done?
1. STOP – STEP BACK – GET PRESENT
When I get overwhelmed I can spend hours doing something that in a calmer state would only take half the time. When I learned to stop, walk away, and sit with the horses, in the garden or at the kitchen table with a cup of tea for 10 minutes, I could gain a different perspective. This allows me the space and time to reflect on what’s really important and how I can make it happen.
2.IDENTIFY THE BELIEF WHICH KEEPS YOU IN THE PATTERN
Underneath all our patterns of behaviour lies a belief, which can sometimes be limiting or unhelpful and yet at other times be productive. The trick is to identify it and make it conscious so that you can choose how to behave. Underneath my ‘busy-ness’ was a belief that if I stopped and took time out for myself that “I am lazy”. One of my clients found that the underlying belief that kept her in the pattern of overworking was “I am not valuable”. I took some time to work through my process around this belief “I am lazy”, and I realised where it had come from and that it had been of great value in my life – in that I have achieved so much.
However, it also came at a cost to my wellbeing and often I didn’t have enough rest, I didn’t spend enough time with my family and I didn’t do the things which I really wanted to do. As soon as I made this belief conscious I could see a different perspective – and now I can choose how to respond when I start to get overwhelmed. I can ‘push through’ or stop, step back and review.
Setting boundaries didn’t come easily to me in relation to respecting my ‘personal time’. I was perfectly able to stick to the timetable of my work schedule, but when it came to ring fencing some ‘me-time’ – I wasn’t good at respecting myself.
Once I’d identified and processed the underlying belief, I began to set boundaries to protect my own personal space. E.g. I stopped working on Sundays and I didn’t take client calls in the evenings and at weekends. Now, that I know I can set a boundary I am able to be more flexible and I work an occasional Sunday and arrange some lessons and coaching calls for evenings.
4.EXPLORE WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
Once you have created more time for yourself, how are you going to spend it! It’s worthwhile exploring this notion! If you are so used to filling any spare time with more work, or helping others, it takes time to re-wire your behaviour and choose to spend the time with yourself. If you know what you will do with that time and it excites you, it will be easier to break the old pattern. I’ve spent my personal time reading more books, spending time with family and friends, being with my horses, riding with friends, attending dance and yoga classes, and having more days out.
The irony is that by taking the time to stop and reflect and by adopting this 4-step process I have been able to remain calmer during busy times, achieve more in less time and make more time for myself.
If you are overwhelmed and want support to identify and move through the underlying belief which keeps you stuck, so that you can enjoy more time for yourself, then click here for information about my wellbeing coaching and here for EFL private sessions and workshops.