It’s a mindset problem — not a time problem

August 5, 2023
Do you ever feel like you have too much to do and that you have a mind-boggling amount of responsibilities? Like you have a zillion things on your plate? It might be school, working, family, friends, or relationships — regardless, sometimes you get a bit overwhelmed.

But keep in mind that you don’t have a time problem. You have a mindset problem. No matter your job, you must work a set number of hours to pay for your living expenses. So, I have to work X number of hours to pay my bills, afford the things I want to do for fun and set some money aside for savings and things like that. Whether you’re working 12-hour- or 8-hour days, you will be working similar hours.

You can make the same excuses even if you are working fewer days; only it becomes “I need to take this day off to relax and sleep late because I’m recovering from my long shifts,” or whatever the case may be. Depending on your commute, you probably have between 5 and 6 hours a day that belongs to you to do whatever you wish, more if you have a short commute or don’t get 8 hours of sleep.

You shall find the time if you seek it because your success depends on it. If you put yourself first, everything else will fall into place because being mentally healthy will boost your ability to accomplish everything else in your life. Schedule your free time on a calendar, as I do, so you’ll be less likely to cancel yourself. I have repeatedly mentioned this point: it’s okay to say ‘no.’ Don’t fear conflict or disappointing others; you need time to recharge. Stop trying to control everything and just let go. Bidding farewell to that uneasiness will help you find more free time for yourself.

Now, I know you are saying you don’t have any time free – that you’re busy AF. Well, here’s how you can carve out some time for yourself, even if it’s an hour a week.

  • Wake up an hour before you typically would by going to bed earlier and waking earlier to distraction-free mornings. You’ll feel rejuvenated, which will help you be more productive since you took care of el numero uno. I love my morning time!
  • Meal prep on the weekends so dinner takes less time. That way, during the week, when you get home, you can just pop something in the oven or microwave, and you have a good, healthy meal and don’t have to worry about prep time. Saving half an hour or so on cooking and dishes each day can make a difference.
  • Take advantage of your more productive times of the day. If mornings are your thing, wake up half an hour or an hour earlier so you can study, work on personal projects, read, etc. It might mean you go to bed early, but if you’re not getting things done in the evening, then that doesn’t really matter.
  • Look at where you waste time. I hear lots of people say, “I don’t have any time,” but they’re spending a lot of time watching TV, scrolling on their phones, just not doing a lot of anything. You probably have plenty of time; you’re just not spending it on the tasks that are important to you.
  • Prioritize your downtime at work. I don’t know what kind of environment you work in, but I take headphones to work with me and will listen to podcasts or books on tape at work. I also journal and focus on personal and professional development during lunch or when I have a little free time between tasks.

I personally need 29 hours in a day – and even then, I probably still wouldn’t have enough time to finish everything I want to do. Sometimes, I just need some time for myself. And this is something that I think ALL men need as well. We are trying to be happier and healthier; taking time for ourselves is part of that equation. Don’t feel bad about taking ‘me’ time. It’s not selfish – it’s a NECESSITY.

You need to find your happy spot, a peaceful place for your soul. I have this water fountain in Marietta that makes me happy. Spending time there once a week is soothing, dedicating the occasion just for me. I don’t work, but I may journal. And I definitely leave my phone behind. It’s a time to decompress and not worry about responsibilities other than me.

Finding a new hobby also is a great way to spend some ‘me time’. It’s never too late to pick up something new or try something that you’ve wanted to try – perhaps golf, a musical instrument, painting, or pickleball. A hobby can be fun, freeing, and something to let your mind wander away from the stresses of everyday life. You don’t have to worry about your family, your money, or whatever else may be troubling you. I love perusing art festivals and antique shops.

It’s wise to dedicate about an hour a week to yourself – calm down, stop, and relax. As men, we get so bogged down and focused on responsibilities that we rarely take time to breathe. Taking time for myself is something that I am always working on because I have to force myself to do it. I have to actually schedule when I am taking time for myself into my week because if not, I’ll work all the time.

Stress will kill you, and you need time in your week just for yourself without an agenda. Sometimes, you have to slow down – life will be there after you’ve had your time. Take time and unwind. Grab your ‘me time’ and run with it. Most importantly, change your mindset. Stop feeling like you’re wasting your life by strengthening your time management skills and mindset.

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