Friday, July 1, 2011

8 Ways To Get More Time For Yourself

Not long ago I began to feel very suffocated with my work and life. The constant struggle of raising a young family, growing a thriving business, and a long list of personal and professional goals can leave anyone feeling frazzled.

Some say work-life balance doesn't exist and on some days I'd be inclined to agree given the struggle I face with my own juggling act. But I'm determined to prove them wrong. I've found that one way to begin to find Work Life Joy is to try to carve out some "me" time. Here are eight ways to try.

1. Exercise

Although I've got a few pounds to lose since having a new baby, working out is important for so many more reasons besides weight loss. Since joining the gym, I've fallen back in love with my business, had more energy for my children, and found myself happier throughout the day. I'm more motivated and focused than ever before.

If joining a gym is not your thing, consider popular at-home systems like P90x or Insanity, both of which are getting hyped and reviewed from trusted bloggers like Pat Flynn and Yaro Starick.

2. Television

Here's where I'm supposed to tell you that the best way to stop the entrepreneurial buzz going on in your head is by mediating daily. But I personally have no experience with mediation and it seems a bit daunting to me.

A great, lazy way to escape the stress of unfinished to-dos and future plans, well besides doing the work, is to watch TV for a few minutes or an hour. With True Blood and Breaking Bad just around the corner, escaping for a bit will quiet the business and life thoughts circling your brain and immerse you in someone else's world for a short while.

3. Reading

Similar to TV, reading will allow you to venture outside yourself and enjoy the pleasures of someone else's life for a while. Whether it's something silly like Sh*t My Dad Says, thrilling like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or thought provoking like All Marketers Are Liars, you'll get much more from reading than just escaping—you'll become a better thinker, writer, and speaker too.

When you take regular time out of your business to sit back with a good book you'll see the benefits in your latest blog posts, the ideas you produce, and the way you communicate with the people closest to you.

4. Pursue a passion

Make a list of the things you've wanted to do in life but have never had the chance to explore. You probably already have a few things in mind, but you can take it further and make your list burst with ideas by jotting down things you did as a kid but never had a chance to explore in depth. My list contains figure skating, tennis lessons, soap making, and pottery classes. What about you?

5. Attend a retreat

With the Internet bursting at the seams with thought leaders and consultants of all kinds, there are endless retreats to help you restore sanity in a variety of ways. The benefits of any retreat, regardless if work is involved, is the chance to get away from all other distractions for a week or a weekend and give complete focus to one thing you'd like to improve.

If you're ready to get your health back on track, try an all natural St. Lucia getaway with Toronto nutritionist Meghan Telpner's Nourish Your Soul. Alternatively, if you're ready to take your business to a whole new level, work alongside two of the biggest names online with Pam Slim and Charlie Gilkey's popular Lift Off Retreat.

6. Make mornings calmer

I really enjoyed reading Inc's interview with 37signals founder Jason Fried because it offered a glimpse into his interesting life. More importantly, the interview revealed that even people managing big empires strive to find balance in life. Jason says:

"I try not to grab my phone and check e-mails first thing. I used to do that, and it's just not good for you. Instead, I'll go and brew some tea and try and relax a little bit. But the computer's always kind of pulling me toward it, so I end up looking at e-mail sooner than I'd like to."

By making it a point to do something simple yet nice for yourself every morning before tackling your work or family duties, you're setting yourself up for a calmer and more productive day.

7. Coffee dates

I got a yummy taste of freedom one day when I walked my daughter over to preschool and then decided on a whim to head over to a nearby coffee shop until I had to pick her up. I spent two hours puttering around on the Internet, drinking lattes, and trying tasty treats, and never once thought about the laundry pile at home or the work deadlines I had coming up.

Why not schedule in a fun coffee date for yourself as soon as you finish your most pressing matters for today? The taste of freedom will give you some perspective on your juggling act and you'll leave the cafe with more motivation to tackle the laundry and your looming deadlines.

8. Sing it like you mean it

My entrepreneurial uncle once told me that every time he had a meeting with a client, he would spend the entire drive over with the car radio blasting, singing along at the top of his lungs. My uncle said singing along helped him speak more powerfully and clearly when he got to the meeting. Better, he said it made him feel happier, more confident, and more energized every single time.

When is the last time you belted out your favorite songs word for word like your life depended on it? Do it and you'll see benefits in life and work, too.

Taking time away from your already busy schedule to pursue some "me" time might seem like it would create even more chaos in your calendar. But by finding a regular chunk of time—be it every day or even just once a week—you'll find that all those fuzzy feelings you get from pursuing time for yourself will cross over into your work and life, too, leaving you happier and healthier and better able to tackle both.


Justine Grey is a Web entrepreneur who writes Work Life Joy for frazzled business builders who long to work vibrantly and live beautifully. You can find her on Twitter at @JustineGrey chatting about life, work and her pop culture obsession.

Thanks to Justine Grey / Open Forum / American Express Company

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