You know you need to recharge your batteries. The problem? A day at the spa or a weeklong vacation just isn’t happening right now. So you tell yourself you have no me time. Best to just muddle along.
Before you believe this sad story, how about realizing that perfect need not be the enemy of the good? From studying the time diaries of numerous successful women for my book I Know How She Does It, I found that plenty of women make space for rejuvenation in the middle of their full lives. Here are ten strategies we can take from them that will energize you if plane tickets to Hawaii aren’t in the budget.
01. Go to bed on time.
Few things feel so wonderful as waking up refreshed before your alarm clock. Figure out what time you need to wake up. Count back at least 7.5 hours. This is your bedtime. Get in bed by this time. If you resist the idea, think of it as a present you’re giving your future self (i.e., the woman who will wake up happy tomorrow). Over time, if you build this habit, you’ll no longer be sleep deprived, and you’ll no longer need the snooze button and copious caffeine to get going in the morning.
02. Get up and exercise.
Physical activity boosts energy levels, and for most people with full-time jobs, morning is the time it can happen. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In 30 minutes, you could pull on some sneakers and run 2.5 miles (at 10 min/mile). Before the rest of the world is eating breakfast, you’ll have achieved an exercise high that will make you feel like you can conquer the world.
03. Enjoy your commute.
Laughter puts anyone in a great mood. That’s why morning radio shows feature shock jocks and practical jokes—but you can do much better than that. Download funny podcasts, or audiobooks by authors who keep you entertained. Better yet, carpool with your significant other, and have a great conversation that will energize you for hours.
04. Meet a friend for lunch.
You have to eat anyway. Once a week, on a less busy day, meet a friend who works nearby for a quick meal. A work friend works too; chatting with someone you really like is as good as downing another cup of coffee.
05. Meditate in the five minutes before a phone call.
Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Repeat a word or phrase to yourself. Start your next conference call in a more calm space.
06. Take a mini-vacation.
If you’re like most people, by mid-afternoon your energy is flagging. Instead of spending twenty minutes you will never get back comparing likes on recent tweets, get up from your desk, go outside, and walk around the block a few times. Try to see something new, or just appreciate the clouds. You’ll return more refreshed than if you’d spent the same quantity of time on an Instagram bender, and for all anyone knows you were just in a meeting (or the bathroom).
07. Indulge in a hobby.
Once the TV goes on at night it will never go off. Instead, challenge yourself to devote just twenty minutes to whatever hobby you’re claiming you don’t have time for before you hit the screens. Chances are you’ll be having so much fun that those twenty minutes will easily become an hour.
08. Read before bed.
My research into time perception has found that people who feel relaxed about time are more likely to read before bed than people who feel anxious. Those people? They’re more likely to check social media. Facebook turns out to be less calming than a real book. Ebooks work just fine if you don’t have time to get to a bookstore.
09. Plan your weekends.
It’s easy to see weekends disappear into chores and errands. Make sure you plan a few activities that you know will rejuvenate you: a bike ride, a dinner with friends, attending a worship service, or volunteering. That way you’ll hit Monday ready to go.
10. Don’t write off the spa completely.
I schedule in a fifty-minute massage once a month on Fridays at 9 a.m. I can be working in the coffee shop nearby or taking a phone call at 10 a.m., and no one needs to know why the day started a little later. See if there’s a spot for a manicure or massage once in a while. Your inbox will still be there, but you’ll feel much better.
Photo Credit: Lean Timms