[AD] Our passions in life are the things that drive us. Whether it’s something active like hiking, yoga or horse-riding, crafting and card-making or hunting for antiques, choosing the right laptop for you or even just getting lost in a really good book, having the opportunity to find and practise these things that makes our hearts sing is hugely important. For our balance and mental wellbeing, one of the best things we can do is pursue these interests that make us feel fulfilled. Finding your passion is one thing – but finding the time to dedicate to it is quite another. In daily life, most of us have a lot of responsibilities- working, caring for children or elderly relatives, running a household and various other things we seem to pick up along the way. Where does the extra time to indulge in all the things we love come from?
If the things that make you tick and your personal interests are not making an appearance in a tightly packed schedule, then it is possible to make time, with some careful juggling. This can mean a variety of things. From learning to say no more to getting on board with a few time management techniques or simply consolidating things you are doing into a single block. It takes a little focus, but it’s far from impossible and unlocking that sliver of extra time to spend on what you love doing can truly be transformative for how you feel about your life. Of course, depending on your personal schedule you may be able to do more of less of these things – only you can really decide. But it should be possible for even the busiest person to claw back a few hours a week with a bit of focus.
Learning To Say No
‘No’ can be a surprisingly hard thing to say sometimes. We avoid saying it for fear that others will feel badly or dislike us, or think we are somehow shirking what we should be doing. We disempower ourselves and surrender control over our time on a regular basis, but allowing social pressure to dictate how we spend our time. Learning how to say no politely is a huge life skill and one that can be incredibly freeing to learn. There are lots of things eating into your time that you could probably skip quite comfortably. Think of time as what it really is – energy – and a form of currency. You make it and you spend it. So spend it wisely and don’t fritter it away on things that don’t deserve it. For example, take social gatherings that you aren’t really interested in, or extracurricular activities you may even do several times a week. What would really happen if you just chose to say no? Could you choose out of several and drop the one which isn’t making you happy?
Paring Back Household Chores
Work around the house is unpaid and takes away a lot of our free time, but we don’t all have the luxury of paying for additional help. If you can afford to hire in outside help to keep on top of the cleaning, it could well be worth it to gain you that time back. However, if that option is off the table, you have to be ruthless about combining and paring back tasks in the house if you want to get back some time. If you have elder children or a partner who isn’t pulling their weight, that needs to stop.
Everybody living in a household and contributing to it’s running should be doing something to help with that running. Learn to delegate more. You may benefit from drawing up a list of all the regularly occurring household jobs, from taking out the rubbish to mopping the kitchen floors, and sharing them out. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of doing it all yourself because you believe it will be easier or done to a higher standard that way. But that approach isn’t going to give you back the time you need, and really, it’s not doing anyone else any favours either. Children are much more engaged when they are given simple, age-appropriate tasks to do around the house. And a partner should value you enough not to let you go without their help. Simple things where you may potentially be wasting time are key – for instance, if you’re going to the market several times during the week, could you consolidate those trips into one large online grocery order with perhaps one supplementary trip to the shops to pick up fresh stuff? Are there things you do which involve lots of wasted time spent in the car – perhaps taking children to after school activities, where you could possibly carpool to get some time back?
Could you batch cook your meals in advance and then freeze portions so that you don’t need to cook from scratch every night without relying on ready meals? Likewise, if you spend a lot of time running errands, is there a way to batch together errands so that you only visit a location once? The trick is to spend an hour or so a week planning everything out – meals, to-do list, housework etc, so that individual things don’t take as long. This frees up much more time and headspace to devote to your passions in life – a much happier result.
Gardening can be a self care ritual.
Get It Scheduled In
Although we tend to schedule those things that we ‘need’ to do, we never seem to schedule time for the things we ‘want’ to do. Why is that? Using a little intentional thinking can make the days more purposeful and ensure that we do get time for everything on that task list, as well as time for ourselves. Letting your day unfold however it will naturally sounds appealing, but it could actually be what’s keeping you from getting to do what you love. If you approach the day with a plan, suddenly you’ll find that you can squeeze more out of the same amount of time. Buy yourself a day planner and once you’ve created the master lists above, use it to map out your days. Don’t just hope to magically find spare time to write that novel or squeeze in an online Pilates class. Make a slot for it. That way, you have made a commitment in your day, and it becomes much easier to honour it. Once you have a slot in the diary, it’s then clearer to see what else in your day needs to be adjusted to make it happen. Other chores will then have to be scheduled for earlier on in the day in order to make sure you meet your planned time for yourself – perhaps you’ll have to make time earlier to respond to emails or pay that bill that’s due. The sooner the time you have planned just for you becomes a ritual, the better. Subconsciously, your other habits will alter to make way for it. For example, if you decide to set aside a Sunday evening to dedicate to cross-stitch, or a HIIT workout session, or even baking an experimental cake, then you’ll begin to alter the rest of your week to fit it in. It could be making sure you have dinner ready to go in the slow cooker so you don’t miss the time slot for your activity. Or you could plan for the kids to be out on a playdate or visiting grandparents so that they are occupied safely and you can have that uninterrupted time. Giving something an actual slot in your schedule rather than trying to just squeeze it in as and when gives it more importance in your life and a greater chance of it actually happening.