We would all love to use our time doing more of what we enjoy, right?! But so often we hear ourselves saying, “I just don’t have the time for reading/crafting/yoga…” and yes, we all have responsibilities and less enjoyable tasks that have to be done, but work/life balance mentor Astrid Bracke believes that it is possible to find time for more of the good stuff, we just have to do a little bit of life-editing and planning first…
1 / Find out what you’re spending your time on
My favourite way to keep track of what I’m really spending my time and energy on is to keep an energy balance sheet. It’s simply a piece of paper with two columns. In one column I put all the things that give me joy and energy, in the other the things that don’t. Since I started doing this I’ve gained lots of clarity and focus around how I spend my days.
Some activities kept showing up in the ‘no energy’-column. Meetings of a certain committee, for instance, left me drained and with no joy. Seeing that on paper again and again helped me make the decision to step down from the committee (even though that meant earning less money).
I’ve also used my energy balance sheet to add more things to my days that do give me joy. I rediscovered my love of writing and am now adding more of it to my business through my blog and newsletter.
2 / Make a wish-list
Once you’ve got your list of things you do and don’t enjoy, it’s time to make a wish-list.
Start small: choose one thing to stop doing and one thing to add. The goal is not to overburden yourself and make every moment of your day ‘productive’. Rather, the aim is to find ways of gently adding more pockets of space to your day. These pockets can be as little as taking ten minutes to go outside on your lunch break, or as big as a one-hour yoga class.
Bonus tip: make it easy on yourself. If you want to go for a run after work, make sure that your clothes are ready by the door. If you know that you often spend the evenings scrolling on your phone but would rather read a book, put the phone in another room and pick out your book in advance.
3/ Plan important things first
Many of us are so used to putting external commitments in our calendars first, that we end up with no time for ourselves. But what if you were to turn this around? Try to make that thing you’d really love to do a non-negotiable, and put it in your calendar first.
I can promise you that this works.
A while back I decided to start my working day with 30 minutes of novel-reading. Up until that moment reading, which I really love, was something I would do as a reward at the end of the day. When I first sat down with my book before work, I felt like I didn’t really have the time to do so. But I did anyway, and it has made a huge difference. Days that I start reading are calmer and less frazzled. And I still get as much done as before.
Now you’ve made a start creating more time and space for the things you love in your days. Remember to take it gently, and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t immediately work the way you wanted it to. We all go through seasons in life, and in some seasons we might have more demands made on us than in others. But by being pro-active and intentional with how we spend our time, we can find small pockets of calm and joy that truly light us up.
Get more tips and advice from Astrid over on her website: www.astridbracke.com