Taking some “me time” may sound like a luxury reserved for self-indulgent celebrities. In today’s hyperbusy world, demands of work and family often supersede spending time doing the things you actually enjoy doing. Perhaps you even feel guilty about taking some time out for yourself, but taking time to rest and recharge are as critical to your success as responding to an urgent email from your boss.
Time management expert David Horsager, author of the new book The Daily Edge, says some of the most influential individuals in history were known for taking me time. “Winston Churchill would get up and think by walking around and getting away from everyone else,” he says. Dr. Todd Dewett says 5-10% of our day should be focused on “me time.” “The busier your schedule and the more responsibility you have, the more crucial me time becomes,” he says.
Me time is the best way to recharge your cognitive batteries. While everyone’s definition of me time may be different (some may prefer to spend their me time exercising, while to others me time may mean sleeping in or a trip to the spa), that time spent actively focused on yourself allows you to shut off the parts of your brain that are focused on the things that are stressing you out, allowing you to return to those tasks and perform at your peak level.
Here are some ways to find more me time:
An open-door policy sounds great, but in reality, your open door can prevent you from getting your important work done and stands in the way of finding your me time. Horsager recommends closing the door when you need uninterrupted time to get your work done, as well as when you need time to call a friend or loved one, do a crossword, or simply shut off your electronics and enjoy your lunch uninterrupted.
“Every choice is a sacrifice,” says Horsager. “A lot of people say yes to whatever comes because they think it will pay off in the end, but if you think about every yes being a sacrifice to something, then you can get clear about what you ought to say yes and no to.” To clearly understand what’s important to you, Horsager recommends coming up with a mission statement or a list of priorities. If the thing you’re being asked to do doesn’t match up with your priorities, it’s an easy one to turn down. Saying no frees up time you need to do something for yourself.
Plot me time in your calendar and treat it just like anything else that’s important during your busy day. During your scheduled me time, turn off your phone or computer, avoiding anything that could distract you or pull you back into the world you need to escape.
While some may think a vacation is the epitome of me time, in order to be truly effective, me time needs to be an ongoing, regular thing. Practice taking 15 minutes at the beginning or the end of your day to do something for yourself. Making me time a ritual removes the decision making, making it more likely to happen.
If just saying the words “me time” makes you feel self-indulgent, you’re likely experiencing me-time guilt. Rather than thinking of me time as selfish, consider it as akin to eating. Just as you need to eat to fuel your body, you need me time to fuel your mind, allowing you to be more productive and focused.