Self-care is the new BUZZ word and usually I would be all over this like a rash – I mean, this is my JAM! This is what I teach my community of busy mums. But honestly, if I can keep it real with you for a moment …
If one more person tells me to “look after myself”, I’m going to punch them in the face!
Yes, I know I need to “look after myself” and I do, to the best of my ability … but things have been pretty hectic in my life just now (which they are for everyone!) … you see, my dad passed away, which meant I travelled back to my home country of South Africa (with all the Covid-19 restrictions that presented), my work was in peak season, the newer coaching arm to my business is going great guns, we’ve had my daughter’s birthday and we’ve been navigating the pandemic.
So there hasn’t been a lot of time for me. And I think that’s a story a lot of women especially can relate to.
Hmm… did I say there hasn’t been enough time? Then it dawned on me!
The reason I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by it all, is that I haven’t been managing my time as effectively as I used to (these things happen, no ones perfect). I appreciate this is a common problem for lots of busy mums. The problem isn’t that we don’t know that we need self-care, it boils down to making time for that self-care.
When, as busy mums are we supposed to grab this time when there is so much else to do and organise?
And that’s actually what I want to talk about today – the sexy subject of time management. Because if you’re going to make time for self-care, we have to manage our time a bit better and that takes focus and intention.
Self-care that you have time for is guilt-free “me time” and that is the goal. (Also, I’ve kept a little nugget of information gold for the end of the blog).
When I find myself getting overwhelmed and dropping my self-care practices, inevitably it comes back to having a lot to do and not managing my time effectively.
So here are 7 time management tips. Then I’ll finish my story and circle back around to how this fits in with my moment of reflection and action.
7 time management tips
- Be realistic. I do find myself being unrealistic fairly often in what I think I can achieve in a day. Then halfway through the day I realise that my to-do list is totally unrealistic. My suggestion is to try be realistic about what you can and can’t fit in a day. I set myself 3 things on my to-do list everyday – the must do’s (a mix of personal and business). Then when these most important things are done, I can look at other things I have to do. The problem comes when we do all the easy things first and leave the most important stuff to the end of the day when we’re stressed and tired – this is when we have our meltdowns.
- Assess your time: Take a bit more of a critical look at how you spend your time. Are you wasting time in the shops when you could be doing it online? Are you spending 4 hours on your phone and not the 1 hour you tell yourself? Is that time productive, is it mindless and is it really contributing to your life and wellbeing? Also, what could you just get rid of completely and what are you spending time on that you don’t really need to? I do like to “do it all”, but can you ask for help. I have now delegated our grocery shopping (online) and management of meals to my hubby in this season. This takes a lot for me as a health coach who likes to be in control. Has it freed up time for me? Yes!
- Priorities: Make your life revolve around your priorities… one of the ways to achieve this is to make daily to-do lists and split it into 3 categories: Urgent/must be done today ; Things that can get done during the week ; longer term items. We can easily confuse people’s demands from us to do stuff as urgent/must be done. Just because someone messages you asking for something – their deadline doesn’t become your emergency. It’s simply a request for your attention and I will respond when I am able. Harsh but true.
- Manage who is responsible for tasks – don’t take on everyone’s responsibilities and be that “it’s ok, never mind, I will do it myself” person. Take charge and make the person responsible do it. That can be your husband, your parents, your kids, your friends…people often ask me how I get so much done and it’s literally through delegation. I don’t attempt to do it all. That is ridiculously unrealistic.
- Learn to say NO. Are you always trying to be a people pleaser and saying yes to everything? I know I struggle with this still. You’re not Jim Carrey and you’re not in the movie “Yes Man”. You can absolutely say No. I bet you will find it liberating to do so and no one will mind. People respect people with boundaries.
No. Is a full sentence.
- Switch of your phone notifications. This one is new to me and has been a game changer. I’m no longer obsessively picking up my phone every time it pings. The constant interruption is so distracting. I can now concentrate on my task at hand and be in the moment. I also check my phone in blocks of time and leave it in another room so I am not tempted to check it while I’m meant to be spending time with my family.
- Be done with perfection. It doesn’t truly exist so you’re striving for the impossible anyway. What can you live with being imperfect (kids didn’t make their beds…ah well, they have to sleep in them not you), Dog ran mud through the kitchen just before bed (clean it now or in the morning when I’m going to mop after breakfast anyway?). Done is better than perfect. That is my mantra now and it’s serving me well. We are all doing our best.
Those are my top tips that I’ve learnt and implemented over time and the more I manage my time and have time to myself and my family, the more fiercely I protect it!
So back to my revelation of time being the crux of the self-care matter. Honestly, I found myself rather teary this week which is unlike me. But it’s 6 weeks since my dad passed away and I realised I needed to assess what was going on and I took some of my own advice.
I haven’t been managing my time wisely and while I have had time for myself, the mismanaged time has exacerbated my situation.
So I assessed my time this week. I stopped, looked at everything I HAD to do and what could be put off for a day, a couple of days and a week.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Well, I disagree, sometimes.
This week, in my case, “Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow or reprioritised”.
What did that mean for me?
- For me, that was switching off all phone notifications. No Facebook, email, Instagram, messenger notifications. Turning off notifications was like coming up for air. I didn’t feel bombarded and it was like the noise was turned down. (Check out my Insta post on sensory overload)
- Then! I culled my diary. We are all so concerned about every meeting, every phone call and honouring our commitments, but guess what…clearing my diary of meetings didn’t break anything, there was no judgement and I didn’t let anyone down. It was only me holding myself to my own crazy expectations.
In fact, I pulled this old quote that I love back up, wrote on a post-it and stuck on my fridge for the week.
“When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place”
- Lastly I slept. It’s a panacea. I switched off my alarm and slept in. When I really looked at my sleep for the past 8 weeks I realised that I had been cutting it thin and it was time to make up for some lost zzzz’s.
*little gold nugget: Sometimes we over complicate things and TIME MANAGEMENT CAN = SELF-CARE
Now I know we can’t turn a new leaf at the flick of a switch, but you can definitely start making small changes. I bang on about this, but it’s because it’s true: Implement 2 -3 small and achievable habits that you can do consistently and you will be amazed at the profound affect it has on your life.
I’m glad I took my own advice, because I have recalibrated and been reminded that filling my days and nights too much isn’t good for me. I can burn the wick at both ends for short stints, but otherwise, I need a slower pace and to use the time I have (which is the same 24hours for everyone) to prioritise me and my family’s needs.
I hope you manage to manage your time and fit in some self-care. Tell me how it’s going on any of my social platforms and don’t forget to join my mailing list for weekly updates from me on healthy habits, motivation and inspiration for busy mums.
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