time management

What about ME? How to Find Time for Yourself When Your Schedule is Packed

March 11, 2024

Reading Time: 8 minutes

What about ME? How to Find Time for Yourself When Your Schedule is Packed

Do you feel like you do everything in the world for everyone else, and you’re left with scraps at the end of the day? Today’s episode dives into the ever-elusive ‘Me Time’ – why you need it, how to squeeze it into your jam-packed schedule, and how to make it a consistent part of your life.


Last week, I was talking to a friend of mine who’s also a working mom, and she said something that really stuck with me. 

She said, “Anna, I feel like I’m always running… but never towards anything for myself.” And, you know, that really resonated with me.  I mean, How often do we find ourselves caught up in this endless cycle of tasks, responsibilities, and commitments, only to realize we haven’t spared a moment for ourselves? We’re doing everything in the world for everyone else, but we’re giving ourselves the scraps. We’ve got to do something about this.

But here’s the thing, and I know you’re probably nodding along – finding time for ourselves in a schedule that’s already bursting at the seams feels almost impossible, right? I get it. Between work deadlines, family responsibilities, and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life, carving out ‘Me Time’ can seem like a luxury we just can’t afford.

So today, we’re talking about:

  • Why it’s so important to have time for ourselves, especially if we’re busy
  • How to squeeze in personal time when your calendar is jam-packed
  • The real reason why it’s so important to customize your “Me Time” 
  • How to make time for yourself a long-term, consistent part of your life

Why Finding Time for Yourself is Important

So, why is ‘Me Time’ so important? Well, for starters, it’s about more than just having a break. It’s about giving ourselves space to breathe, to reflect, and to enjoy the things that light us up inside. It’s the fuel that powers our ability to be the best parents, professionals, and partners we can be. When we neglect this time for ourselves, we’re not just missing out on relaxation; we’re diminishing our capacity to handle the other parts of our lives with energy and enthusiasm.

Customize Your ‘Me Time’

But, before you start frantically flipping through your calendar, searching for a spare moment, I want you to pause. Pause and really think about what ‘Me Time’ means for you. This is crucial, because if we don’t define what truly rejuvenates us, we risk spending that rare free time in ways that don’t fulfill us. 

It kind of reminds me of how I feel whenever I’m hungry and I pop a bag of popcorn to snack on. Sure… I love that buttery popcorn goodness, but I never feel full even after I eat a whole bag! And then I’m still hungry, so I reach for someone else more substantial! For me, popcorn is tasty – but it’s not fulfilling. And you don’t want your me-time to leave you feeling empty. 

When it comes to defining “Me Time,” this step is so personal and unique to each of us. What rejuvenates one person might be entirely different for another, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s all about finding what resonates with you.

Lemme tell you about a conversation I had with a good friend of mine a while back. Let’s call her Emily. Emily was feeling really down and out. Every time she scrolled through her Instagram feed, it seemed like another one of her friends had just completed a marathon or some other big physical challenge. And it was getting to her. She felt like she was falling behind, not doing enough.

So, I asked her one simple question: “Do you even want to run a marathon?” And, you know what? She looked at me, almost relieved, and said, “No, not really!” It was a lightbulb moment for her. She had been feeling inadequate about not doing something that she didn’t even want to do in the first place.

It’s funny how often we compare ourselves to others without stopping to consider if their goals align with our own desires. That’s why it’s so important to sit down and really think about what ‘Me Time’ means for you. Is it picking up a book you’ve been meaning to read? Is it a quiet walk in the park? Or maybe it’s experimenting with a new recipe in the kitchen? It doesn’t have to be this whole big thing; it just needs to be yours.

So, how do you start? Chatting with a friend recently, she admitted that she’s been in mom mode, and work mode for so long that she doesn’t have any hobbies. And that she was taking some time to “date herself” to get back in touch with what she enjoys. She’s trying different things and exploring the possibilities. 

Try a ‘Me Time Menu’

If that sounds familiar to you, I suggest creating what I like to call a ‘Me Time Menu’. This is a list, or even a mental note, of activities that you find fulfilling and relaxing. Think of it like a menu at a restaurant – you have different options to choose from depending on what you’re in the mood for. Your ‘Me Time Menu’ can include things you can do indoors, like meditating or crafting, and things you can do outdoors, like hiking or gardening.

Remember, these activities can vary in duration. In fact, it’s helpful to have some quick ideas, like a 15-minute meditation, and others that are longer, like an afternoon spent painting. And don’t forget to include activities that require nothing at all, like simply sitting quietly with your thoughts or going for a mind-clearing walk.

I like to break the list down like this: 

  • Things that are Quick – like 15-30 minutes. 
  • Things that take Longer – 30 minutes or more. 

Things that are inside, and things that are outside. Don’t let a rainy day get in the way of your Me Time. 

And finally, things that require stuff – like an art hobby, vs. things that don’t require stuff – like going for a walk. 

With your personalized ‘Me Time Menu’ in hand, you’re already one step closer to integrating these precious moments into your life. But, how do you find the time for them? That’s what we’re going to tackle next – identifying and seizing those opportunities, no matter how small, to enjoy ‘Me Time’.

How to Find More Time for Yourself

Now, let’s get into the real challenge – finding the time to actually enjoy these activities. I know, I know, with our calendars already so full, this might seem like a daunting, if not impossible task. But bear with me; it’s not only possible, it’s essential.

Look for Available Pockets of Time

First, let’s start with identifying pockets of time in your day. You might be thinking, “What time? There’s barely a moment to breathe!” But here’s the thing – often, it’s not about finding long stretches of free time; it’s about making the most of the small moments.

For instance, do you have a daily routine that has some flexibility? Maybe it’s those 15 minutes in the morning when you’re usually scrolling through your phone, or perhaps the time you spend waiting for the kids in carline or during their after-school activities. These moments, as brief as they might be, are opportunities. 

Double Up Activities

Next, let’s think about doubling up on activities. I’m a big fan of this one. Sometimes you have to get a little creative, but can you turn a mundane task into ‘Me Time’? How about listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast while doing household chores? Or taking a walk outside during a less-demanding conference call? 

Now of course the ideal, rejuvenating version of personal time we want is focused me-time where you’re not just going to the grocery store solo or weeding the garden and listening to a podcast – but sometimes we’ve gotta work with what we’ve got. What are some activities in your life that can coexist, allowing you to recharge while still ticking off that to-do list.

Ask for Help

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of asking for help. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the idea that we have to do it all, that we forget it’s okay to lean on others. 

Do you have a friend, a family member, or a neighbor who could watch the kids for an hour while you go for a run or head over to a coffee shop with a book? 

Or perhaps you can build a babysitter list for those times you need a couple of hours for yourself. If you’re caring for elderly family members, see if other relatives can share the responsibility. Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a smart strategy for self-care.

So – to squeeze me-time into a busy schedule, we’ve talked about looking for available pockets of time, doubling up, and asking for help. 

These short-term strategies are great for sneaking in ‘Me Time’ into our busy lives. But what about making it a consistent part of our schedules? That’s what we’re going to explore next – how to plan and protect your ‘Me Time’ in the long run. It’s all about being intentional and sometimes, a little bit strategic.

How to Make ‘Me Time’ a Consistent Part of Your Schedule

Let’s face it, to truly feel the benefits, your “me-time” needs to be a regular part of our schedule, not just a once-in-a-blue-moon treat. So, how do we make that happen? Let’s dive into some long-term solutions.

Schedule ‘Me Time’ In Advance

First, and this might be my favorite strategy – plan your ‘Me Time’ in advance. Think of it as a non-negotiable appointment with yourself. At the start of this year, I took out my Big Picture Year Calendar, and I marked out what I call “Quarterly Anna Days.” 

These are days I’ve dedicated entirely to myself. It could be as simple as getting a massage, trying out a new café, or just roaming around downtown with no agenda. The key here is to schedule these days well in advance and treat them with the same importance as any other appointment.

Create Space in Your Calendar

Next, let’s talk about creating space in your calendar. If the short-term solution to finding me-time is squeezing it in, the long-term solution is making space and holding that space like a boundary. 

This might mean saying no to certain commitments. Remember when we talked about quitting in Episode 216? It’s okay to step back from activities or obligations that don’t align with your priorities. 

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it – creating this space in your schedule can take time. You might not see an immediate opening, especially if your calendar is tightly packed at the moment. But if you look for opportunities to remove commitments from your calendar, allow some to expire, and reschedule others,  gradually, over a month or so, you’ll begin to notice little pockets of time opening up. And when they do, guard them fiercely. It’s easy to let these newfound time slots get filled with other demands.

Protect Your ‘Me Time’

And that brings me to my final point – staying steadfast. Once you’ve carved out this time for yourself, protect it. If something tries to encroach on your ‘Me Time’, ask yourself: Is it urgent? Is it more important than your well-being? When it comes down to it, we’ve only got one life, y’all. And if we don’t take care of ourselves, we run the risk of it being cut short. So I’m going to say it again – if something tries to take you Me Time, ask yourself – Is this more important than my well-being? More often than not, you’ll find that it can wait.

Making ‘Me Time’ a consistent part of your life isn’t just a treat; it’s a vital aspect of self-care and personal well-being. So, take these strategies, apply them, and watch as your life begins to transform, one moment of ‘Me Time’ at a time.

If you’re feeling guilty…

Before we wrap up, I want to take a moment to address a common feeling many of us grapple with when it comes to ‘Me Time’ – guilt. It’s incredibly common, especially for women, to feel guilty about carving out time for themselves. There’s this widespread idea that spending our time on our own interests or relaxation is somehow selfish or neglectful of our responsibilities to others.

But here’s the truth – feeling guilty for taking care of yourself is like feeling guilty for putting on a life jacket in a boat. ‘Me Time’ isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity for keeping us afloat. It’s the time that allows us to recharge, regain our strength, and return to our daily lives with renewed energy and a clearer perspective.

So, as we’ve explored today, from understanding what ‘Me Time’ means to you, to finding ways to integrate it into your daily life, and planning for it in the long term, I encourage you to do so without guilt. Remember, taking time for yourself benefits not just you, but everyone around you. When you’re at your best, you bring your best to the people you care about

Let this be your takeaway from today’s conversation: Embrace your ‘Me Time’ guilt-free. See it as an act of self-respect, not selfishness. Start small if you need to, but start. And remember, every step you take towards integrating ‘Me Time’ into your life is a step towards a happier, more balanced you.

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes:

What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hey Anna! I'm looking for an episode about...

Hey Anna! I'm looking for an episode about...