Working an 8-5 job sometimes means we don’t have time for ourselves. The weekends seem to slip away at our fingertips too and we never quite have enough time to relax and do all the things we had planned. Surely there must be a way to find more ‘me-time’?
Good news, there is! But before we get into that, let’s discuss why ‘me-time’ is so incredibly important.
Why is ‘me-time’ important?
Many of us believe that taking a day, or even an hour to yourself is selfish. If you’re a parent, you might feel guilty for not spending that hour with your child. Or maybe you feel that you should be spending your extra time with your partner instead.
Reality check: spending time with yourself is the least selfish thing you can do! Taking care of yourself keeps you from burning out, which makes you a much better partner, parent, friend or colleague. A lot of us have been taught that it’s important to give give give as much as you can, especially our support to others. The truth is that we can only give the very best of ourselves to others if we’ve taken care of ourselves first. If we’re unhappy, exhausted or not well, we are not in a position to support and take care of others. But when we’re happy, healthy and full of energy, we can love, support and care for others to our best ability.
Not only is caring for yourself good for those around you, it also has many unexpected benefits on your own life. One being that when you value your ‘me-time’ it shows that you value and respect yourself, and those around you will pick up on this and are likely to value and respect you in return. Being with yourself will also allow you to be still, get to know yourself better and make sure you don't rely on the company of others to fill your happiness. Self-care is essential for happiness and recharging and quality 'me-time' means a better work life balance, greater wellbeing and stronger engagement at work.
Here are just a few more benefits. Time alone:
- Helps us unwind
- Recharges our brain
- Improves our concentration
- Makes us more productive
- Allows for self-discovery
- Helps in problem solving
- Enhances our relationships
How do I make time for myself?
Have you realised that you need more time to yourself? We can’t fix the amount of work we have, but we can change our approach to work. You can work smart for 5 hours a day and get more done in a shorter space of time to free up your personal time.
Here are a few ways to work smarter every day:
Get plenty of sleep
This is really the number one key to being more productive and working smarter. If you’re tired, you’ll take much longer to complete your tasks for the day.
Take a deep breathe
The first step to tackling your work day is to relax, calm your mind and mentally prepare yourself for the rest of the day. Any anxiety needs to be ridded before you can begin working productively.
Make a list
Once you’re more relaxed, you can write down all those things you have in your head. You’ll probably write a rather long list. Once your list is complete, it’s important that you cross off some of those things off of your list as in reality, you probably won’t be able to get to everything (especially if you’re planning on spending time with yourself today!) Limit your list to completing the most important tasks for today only, being realistic in what you can achieve for the day. At the end of the day, once you’ve completed the tasks on your list, you can plan your list for tomorrow and add some of the things you originally crossed off your list.
Take more breaks
Contrary to popular believe that breaks make you less productive, studies have shown that taking regular breaks actually enhances the quality of your work. Each time you come back from a walk to fill up your water bottle, or a chat with a colleague downstairs, you’re more focused and ready to tackle the workload. In fact, your brain can only stay focused for around 90 minutes, which is why you should be taking a 15 minute break after each 90 minute work session. If you take a break roughly every 90 minutes, you'll allow your mind and body to recharge and will be ready to tackle the next focused 90-minute period with high engagement.
Use the phone more
So much time can be wasted on waiting for an email response. Sometimes people ignore emails or are out of the office and can’t answer your questions when you need them. A phone call can often give you the answers you need much quicker than an email can. Plus, you’ll probably have a much better understanding than you would from an email response.
Close and check your tabs regularly
It’s easy to rack up your tabs in your browser, especially if you are researching. Try and make a conscious effort to close your tabs if you’re done with a page or if you know you don’t have time to read the page today. While you're consciously closing your tabs, empty your inbox too. Although it may initially take some time, your mind will feel free of clutter (and so will your computer too!).
Be more concise
Keep your meetings as short and concise as possible and make sure you ask the right questions so that you don’t waste any time misunderstanding anything.
Track your time
An important way to work smart is to track your time spent on each task, your distractions and what you are wasting your time on. Once you’ve established this and seen repetition, you can delegate or suggest other members in your team take over some tasks. Once you know your distractions too, you can try different methods of eliminating them too.
Take a mental health day
Ask your boss for a mental health day if you are not feeling yourself, have anxiety, depression or if you are going through something difficult. This leave should be taken as part of your sick leave and not your annual leave. According to Forbes, "Companies that provide napping pods, mental health days, yoga, meditation and the like will be rewarded with more productive employees with higher mental acuity. Increased employee retention is also likely."
Create wind-down routines
Lastly, set yourself a cut off time, and stick to it. It’s easy to stay at the office late, or just do one more task. But you’ll never spend time with yourself or do the things you need to do, it's a never-ending cycle. Once you’re home, create a wind-down routine that you can do every day, like make yourself a cup of tea or go for a walk. This will relax you and keep your mind off work.
Our Founder, Ryan Roberts says:
“Working smarter is easier than you think and it’s entirely necessary!
Working harder means using more energy which is not necessarily a good thing, especially when you want to be more productive over a longer period.
Working smarter uses less energy and makes use of your time more effectively, which allows you to become more productive and DO MORE in a shorter space of time.
Working smarter for me means waking up early when there’s no distractions and my mind is clear. I’ve found I am a lot more productive this way which frees up my time later in the day to do the things I want to do.
Recently, I purchased noise reduction, ear covering, headphones which helps a lot at silencing the 'outside' world while I’m playing music. I highly recommend getting a pair, especially if you are working in a noisy office space. The inner ear buds simply don’t do the trick and in fact may cause hearing loss if used for extended periods.”
– Ryan Roberts (Founder of DeskStand)
If you've soaked in all this information, you’re well on your way to working smarter so that you can spend more quality time with yourself. But are you still not sure what to do in your alone time? Here are some suggestions:
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the house
- Unplug/switch off your gadgets for a while and be still
- Have your lunch break outside
- Play a sport or exercise
- Make monthly dates with yourself to enjoy a hobby you like
- Play or learn a musical instrument
- Treat yourself to a spa day
- Cook a meal alone and get creative in the kitchen
- Sleep in
- Write your thoughts in a journal
To start standing more, working smarter and living a healthier life, take a look at our Combo Box deal.