Despite our best efforts to balance work, school, family, and a social life, there’s only so much time in a day. In fact, as we age and take on more responsibility, it can feel like each day gets shorter. And when you add a fitness plan to the mix, you begin to really see just how short the days can get.
Quality of life is about balance. No doubt you’ve heard people say they are looking for “work-life balance.” Most of us would agree that an ideal life balance would include time for oneself, aka “me time.” How is it, then, that me time is the first thing to go when shopping needs to be done, bills need to be paid, or kids need shuttling to soccer practice?
Before you give up, might it be possible that some of us could benefit from using a tracker or app to ensure we get our daily dose of me time? But if you think of your fitness tracker as another distraction that is taking you away from time you set aside for yourself, stop right there! Tracking isn’t just for fitness. Tracking is an extraordinary tool that can also help us maintain a schedule as we work towards our goals. If you allow yourself the freedom to do unto you, a tracker or app can be the impetus to help you prioritize your time and find space in your busy schedule to recharge, even if it means soaking in a hot tub!
Making time and accounting for your hot tub soaks is just as important as counting calories and steps or getting a good night’s sleep. And, more importantly, it will help you to achieve equilibrium in your life. Short changing yourself can make the time you commit elsewhere a regrettable, endless chore, not to mention boring. When we’re bored, we’re disinterested, which makes it harder to perform well and to apply the full focus we need to maintain a balanced lifestyle. Not to sound overly dramatic, but it also can have negative health implications, including burnout, stress and fatigue.
But isn’t time devoted only to ourselves selfish? If making time for yourself makes you feel guilty, it shouldn’t. There’s a reason why the flight attendant instructs us to put our oxygen mask on first, before helping others. When we feel responsible for others, it’s easy to lose sight of our responsibility to ourselves. We justify this by saying what we do is selfless and for the good of our family, our colleagues or our friends. We fancy ourselves as the captain steering a ship with our crew relying on us to arrive safely at our destination. But who would you rather have in charge and helping you, the captain who hasn’t had enough rest or the relaxed and rested captain who’s happy to meet the challenges of a stormy sea? Yes, taking me time is personally beneficial, but it also suits the people around you.
Now that you are on board, it’s time to find time in your already packed schedule. Most trackers and apps can show you where there are 5, 10, 30 and even 60 minute gaps in your schedule. For instance, adding a small amount of personal time to your weekly schedule may result in better sleep, longer or more satisfying workouts and a general lift in your total mood. If your schedule is really jam-packed, try sneaking in short bursts of time throughout the day. Five or ten minutes of you time at different periods during the day will go a long way to making you feel better between tasks. But it’s still not a substitute for longer, uninterrupted quality time.
Use your tracker to map out an average day and then look to see if changing certain habits will leave you with more time for yourself. Try waking up 30 minutes earlier. This will give you time before anyone else is awake in the house to do what you like. Figure out how much time you spend doing certain activities and make a record of your overall satisfaction with each one. With this information, you can then consider cutting back on your commitment, sharing it with others, or cutting it out altogether. And when new opportunities and invitations arrive, factor them into your existing plan. Weigh them against existing responsibilities and decide if there is something you can get rid of in order to incorporate this new activity or choose to stick with your existing balanced life plan. Either way, maintaining personal time should remain an essential and deciding factor.
Taking time out for your self will be transformative. Before long, you will feel lighter and self satisfied and your chores will no longer be endless and boring, but rather challenges you are happy to meet. Congratulations Captain! You and your crew have arrived safely at your destination – the island of equilibrium.