Finding Balance: How Do I Make Time?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
2/24/2009 6:26 PM   :  71 comments

This is the second in a series about how to find the balance between work, family and your own health and fitness goals. Click here to read the first blog entry in this series.

I work a lot from home, so with two little ones around, finding time throughout the day to get my job done can be a challenge. These days, packing up for a trip to the store, doing the shopping and coming home to unpack the groceries can be a half-day affair. With so many day-to-day tasks to complete, how do I find time to take care of myself?

Time is something most of us wish we had more of. I often find myself thinking "If I just had 20 minutes to myself, I'd squeeze in a short workout or at least use the quiet time to unwind." But in reality, when I do have a few of those minutes here and there, I use them to clean up toys, or get dinner started, or lots of other things that have nothing to do with me. I can easily find things that I think NEED to get done, when in reality they could probably wait a little longer. I know that I'd benefit from taking those few minutes for myself instead, so why do I have such a hard time doing it? Am I the only one who struggles with this?

Finding time comes down to making priorities. It's easy to find time for the things that are a high priority in your life. I always shake my head at the people who say "I don't have time to exercise." Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day- it's just about how you choose to use them. Those people who have time for exercise are the ones who put it higher on their priority list. This doesn't mean that you're a failure if you can't find 60 minutes a day for physical activity. But I don't know anyone who can't find 10 minutes here and there throughout the day to get up and move.

I'll admit that I haven't done a good job at putting myself high on the priority list. So maybe I need to start practicing what I preach and make time for me. One of my personal goals for this year is to spend at least 10 minutes a day (outside of exercise) doing something for myself. Have I been sticking to it? Honestly, no. I know that taking care of me means I'll do better at taking care of everyone else, but for some reason this is tough for me. Is it tough for you? What can we do to start finding the time?

Let's start by looking at a typical day. Are there any tasks you could delay or delegate to someone else? Can you find small pockets of time to do a few strength training exercises, make a healthy lunch or just relax and read a chapter of your favorite book? It doesn't have to be much, but those small bits of time can make a big difference in your physical and mental health.

I'm going to start by taking a look at my day, setting some priorities and making a plan for how I'm going to find the time. Are you with me?


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Comments

  • 71
    I think what this "time for me" really boils down too is figuring out your schedule and make adjustments ,there is always a little corner of time nobody can be busy every second of everyday so what im gonna start doing is take maybe a sunday nite and go over my schedule and see where i can "fit in" the things i need to do for myself. And then (unless theres an unexpected emergency) its all written out for me 1st i do this 2nd , this etc ..so its less hectic trying to figure it out thru out the day its all there for me and i simply do it with no exceptions. Like everyone says if you dont take time for your self first who will? And in the end your only resentfull and unhappy. So lets go people do it for yourself your worth it and be your own best friend!!! - 3/1/2012   11:20:59 PM
  • 70
    I have three kids, 2 dogs, and 1 husband. I leave for work at 5:30 AM Monday-Fridday and have an hour commute each way when the traffic is good. To top it all off, my husband is trying to start up a photography business in addition to his day job and I help him as much as possible to include giving up entire weekends to attend events where he is the photographer. The only way I can exercise or do something for myself is to really plan ahead. I don't watch much tv as I see it as a waste of my very precious time. I'm getting better at it all the time and have seen the benefits of exercising and eating right!! (lost 50 pounds and gained some happiness.) - 8/19/2011   8:33:36 AM
  • 69
    Time is precious, more so as one gets older. A good motivation for me to get moving more!
    - 12/21/2009   1:53:52 AM
  • 68
    Now that I am back into the groove of things...exercise was always high on the list for me...I gets up @ 6am to do so. Exercise gives me this great sense of pride and accomplishment. - 3/31/2009   2:02:19 PM
  • 67
    See..I have started making the time for exercise and I feel GREAT about it but at the same time I feel guilty about it because some of the other things are falling out of balance ahhh like the dishes, laundry and picking up after the kids. Ya know I try not to worry so much but after a day of things laying around and piling up that too gets a bit stressful because I know that it's just piling up and it's going to take me longer to get things back in order and uhhh then my exercise is going to fall out of balance and it's like tug-o-war!! :( What gives? - 3/25/2009   11:09:48 PM
  • SWEET2NURSE2003
    66
    i struggle with finding me time. I am a mother of two, I work full time and I go to school full time. I have trouble say no to people and things, I want to fix everything before I fix myself. But I am going to start finding time for myself some how.

    My pastor left me with this thought, " If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your family, and your spouse (Brian, in my case) will give everything to his next wife." What my pastor was saying is if we don't take care of ourselves first, we are not going to be around to enjoy life later. - 3/8/2009   3:22:35 AM
  • SLIMNSUZI
    65
    Luckily for me it takes about 3 minutes to walk to the gym in my complex and I don't have any kids at home anymore. LOL!! I've found that if I roll out of bed and head to the gym I can get my 60 minutes on the treadmill. I have also started using a DVD by Jillian Michael's that takes only 20 minutes to do. I have been fitting that in every other day. I also found a Spark buddy and we're going to start walking m-w-f at a park not to far from home. I never made time for myself before and it really shows so now I'm demanding time to myself. I'm trying to add a little running into my treadmill workout, it's going slow but eventually my goal is to join a running club. I'm not letting myself make excuses anymore and I feel great about myself even if the dishes or laundry has to wait . - 2/28/2009   7:59:00 PM
  • 64
    I get up early (5 ish), but I go on SP, read email, drink coffee. I need to get my rear end out of the house to walk! - 2/28/2009   10:22:59 AM
  • 63
    Always looking for time for myself, and I am still trying to find it. With children and everything else that moms and wives have to do, I have to be creative in locating the time. When I do make time for myself (even to workout) I feel guilty because I think of hundreds of thing I NEED to do. I have learned those NEED to dos don't go anywhere when I am working out. They are still there when I get finished. - 2/28/2009   8:27:13 AM
  • 62
    my comment is brief, I don't have much time (smile). I have to TAKE time and let something else go or I won't find any time. Time is a fleeting commodity. - 2/28/2009   8:21:35 AM
  • 61
    I walk every Mon-Friday with a friend for 1 hour at 530am. It is the most wonderful feeling to get back home and get in the shower and start your day right. - 2/26/2009   4:09:54 PM
  • ERINGIUSTO
    60
    I have three kids and I am always the last priority. That is going to change, one gym visit at a time. Because I am worth it and I will be a better mom for it - 2/26/2009   1:25:25 PM
  • 59
    I will be doing some squats, calf raises and lunges today with every little opportunity I get at work! - 2/26/2009   12:41:26 PM
  • OAKDALE3
    58
    I am going to find 10 mins at lunch for the next week to walk!! - 2/26/2009   11:11:38 AM
  • 57
    It has literally taken me years as a Mom to learn to do this. Time and my kids being older has given me the perspective. It had gotten to a point where I felt like I had to take better care of myself in order to ensure that I'd be around to take care of them. - 2/26/2009   8:25:58 AM
  • 56
    Great article, lots to think about. - 2/26/2009   8:03:33 AM
  • 55
    I work out in the mornings and find it really sets the tone for a healthier day physically and mentally. Sometimes I'll split my workout up though, walk before work then do the rest when I get home. Always worth the time when I see the progress no matter how slow it it. - 2/26/2009   7:50:04 AM
  • 54
    You hit on something that I had never given a thought to. I love to read. When I find a good book I like to have it consume me. No noise nobody other than me and my book.

    My life hs changed and I am a non stop 2 job, working student and I never have time for my books anymore... well so I thought. But you said something about squeezing in a chapter of a favorite book... DUH! If I just did my reading 1 chapter as I can get to it, I could still aqueeze in my fantasy land and still get my life necessities accomplished. I have just been depriving myself... Thanks for that! :) It never occured to me that even though it wouldn't be my 2 hour or more session that I still could have it. I guess I am an all or nothing kind of girl, But this year is about change right!

    Cheers - 2/26/2009   12:18:48 AM
  • 53
    OMG- were you talking about me or was I reading about myself in your entry here?!?!! I totally relate to everything you said and I KNOW I need to take more time to put me at the top of the priority list. With two little ones at home that aren't in school yet and managing two businesses it isn't easy- but I have to do it if I'm going to be here to be that good mom I want to be for my kids and good wife for my husband... I'm with ya! - 2/25/2009   9:51:37 PM
  • 52
    You bet I am doing my thing first! When my children were growing up I always put them first. Well they are grown now. This is me and my DH time. We go to the gym together. Sometime at separate time but we get it in most days. - 2/25/2009   9:14:55 PM
  • 51
    I love my "me" time . . . and i know how important it is, for everyone in my life! - 2/25/2009   7:54:50 PM
  • TORTOR07
    50
    My schedule is ridiculously busy right now with school, work, and my part time job. I still always try to find ways to incorporate my down time into something productive instead of just vegging on the couch on my days off. I'm also getting into a more regular schedule of hitting the gym whenever I can with a specific work out plan. - 2/25/2009   7:53:03 PM
  • ASINGH527
    49
    I have a long commute (when you combine dropping off and picking up DD it's 4 hours a day typically) about half of it I use public transporation and while I'm commuting it's my time to read or sleep. I then also try to do wallks when it's not too windy and cold out during the lunch hour. Or, if I'm really short on time (and usually stressed) I'll at least take a 10-15 min. walk break just to clear my mind.

    On weekends I end up walking a lot more just because I want to get out of the house (but after my house hold chores) and it's typically heading to a mall or an outlet place. - 2/25/2009   3:39:58 PM
  • PATTYOD
    48
    I understand how you feel. I think organization helps and I am not organized. I am going to try and organize my time better, if I do then I might be able to carve out that few 10-20 minutes to have a bit of time to myself. - 2/25/2009   2:54:05 PM
  • 47
    I'm with you! I too struggle with finding time or making time for myself. I'm often frustrated and overwhelmed. If I get 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill in each day, I'm happy. However I need to make more time for myself and let other things drop. I decided to take Friday off work and do whatever I want to. - 2/25/2009   2:49:13 PM
  • 46
    Me time is so important! I try to combine exercise and me time with other chores such as walking the dog. I also save money by carpooling with my DL and walking the mile and a half to his office. It saves gas and I get in a good walk that helps me be a better me. I have always felt that I am a better mommy, wife, friend, etc. because I take that time for myself. - 2/25/2009   1:27:16 PM
  • 45
    It's so easy to get caught up in the desire to be there for everyone else and make everyone else in our lives a priority. Then I read somewhere that if you don't treat yourself as important, no one else will either. That struck a cord with me. Now, I make sure I get my "me" time every day...even if I have to make an appointment for me in my PDA. And I treat that appointment as important as I would a doctor or dentist appointment; after al, what are the chances I would cancel a doctor appointment because I had to do the dishes? My "me" time is as important to my health as that doctor time. The rewards have been many: I am exercising regularly, have more energy, am more fucused, and am much more mellow.

    - 2/25/2009   1:03:05 PM
  • NANHILBUG
    44
    Finding time to walk/exercise, etc. Is extremely difficult for me. I have recently discovered if i walk 2 laps around the perimeter of my office buidling it is almost 1 mile. So my new mini priority is to walk every day @ lunch. Next is to find time to exercise, after, the kids, work, cooking, cleaning & wash. I have managed, but somedays it hard. Good luck to all! - 2/25/2009   1:00:48 PM
  • 43
    This is one of my goals to get more active and to do for myself. It is very hard for me to get motivated to exercise but I must admit Sparks is helping me. I'm walking during my lunch hour at work about 15 min and than taking a break mid afternoon to walk again. I think if others can take go multiple time for smoking breaks I can go for walking breaks. And now that the weather in Texas is getting warmer it feels great to be outside. - 2/25/2009   12:40:33 PM
  • DAN_ODEA
    42
    My biggest problem: I habitually take on a lot of tasks and tend to forget time during thinking-heavy activities. Really, I ought to slow down. Thank you for sharing these tips! - 2/25/2009   12:40:26 PM
  • 41
    Years ago I started getting up at least 1 hr before anyone else just to fit me into my life. It was the best thing I could do for myself & my loved ones. I have learned to love the quiet of the morning, sound of the first bird & gorgeous sunrise to start my day. I still get a sparkle in my eye between 5-6am ... like a kid snitching candy from the cupboard!

    What a treat to beat the birds & sun --- and feel like I'm the only one!
    I usually grab a cup of tea & get online for 10-20 mins.
    - 1st I connect with God thru a Daily Devotional to focus on
    - 2nd I connect with my self - thru a daily Yoga message & exercise
    - 3rd I connect with SparkPeople to share the glory of the morning & learn what I missed while snoozing the night away!

    If time allows (before waking Hubby at 6:30), I get sneaky again & put on my earbuds for a 10-20 min walk to witness the sunrise in person. I am SO excited that Daylight Savings Time is soon returning soon. By summer, I WILL return to swimming under the morning stars too. I found that glory last yr to be an exhilerating way to start the day.

    - As an extra treat, I have recently added a morning 5K in my schedule - after getting Hubby out the door & on their way.
    - My daily shopping/errands often include a quick 20 minute walk thru a favorite park or new hiker/biker trail. This can easily be done with children & they love it too!

    PS: Sneaking a nap in the afternoon is pretty nice too!

    I wish I would have lived this way in my younger years so my children had a good example to follow. There is definitely wisdom in the aging process!

    I am grateful to SP for helping me enjoy my tender years.
    You give me reason to 'rise & shine' each day!
    Thank You. - 2/25/2009   12:37:04 PM
  • 40
    I have always struggled with trying to find time for myself and for my workout, but totally agree that this is just a matter of setting priorities. Now that my kids are in their teens, I am allowing myself a little more time to get my workouts in. As they are busier with sports, I use their sports time to get a little of my own. - 2/25/2009   12:01:08 PM
  • 39
    I am still working on finding time, but squeeze in some before work, during work and after. I break it up into small amounts and it helps. I park in the back of the lot, take the long route to get my water, etc. The little things add up! I do legs stretches at my desk, and try to get up and move every hour or so. - 2/25/2009   11:23:30 AM
  • 38
    I am still working on finding time, but squeeze in some before work, during work and after. I break it up into small amounts and it helps. I park in the back of the lot, take the long route to get my water, etc. The little things add up! I do legs stretches at my desk, and try to get up and move every hour or so. - 2/25/2009   11:23:29 AM
  • 37
    Every person has a busy life. I work full-time at a desk job. I have four kids that I'm raising. My husband travels for his job, but luckily has been home most of the past year. We just bought an investment property that we've been renovating every weekend since December. We've got one daughter who is a Senior in high school and looking at a year abroad (she probably won't end up in college). Our kids are involved in more activities than ever, and it's never a dull moment around our home.

    HOWEVER, since having my gastric bypass surgery in November 2007, I have MADE SURE that I get ME time - my exercise time - every day. Three days a week, I wake up 30 minutes earlier (6 a.m.) and use the elliptical. Two nights a week, after dinner, I spend an hour at the gym to strength train with my hubby, who also had the gastric bypass (February 2008). On Tuesday nights, we go to our bariatric support group.

    We are lucky in that our youngest (twins) are 12, and can stay at home with their older siblings (age 14 and 17) while we are out at the gym or support group. Also, when we take walks on Saturday or Sunday morning, we can do so without worrying whether the kids will be safe. I think it's important to adjust your schedule to fit in the exercise! I'm glad I finally did that almost 2 years ago. - 2/25/2009   11:13:21 AM
  • 36
    I live my life by my datebook, with work, home run bussiness, Girl Scouts, private lessons, and other activities I would lose my mind and all track of time without my Gold book. However, in each date there is an hour listed in "Purple" ink that is "MY" time, and nothing takes that from me. Everything can wait (unless someone is dying of course) until my "me" time is completed.

    This is how I stay sane! lol
    - 2/25/2009   10:55:38 AM
  • 35
    I finally got my priorities right when I realized how important exercise was. I kept saying I could not afford it as I am on a limited social security. I have joined curves an exercise program. I make it a point to be there 3Xs a week. I joined sparkpeople and boy do I feel better about my self. - 2/25/2009   10:44:30 AM
  • 34
    I got an exercise bike for Christmas and i will ride it when i watch TV..I love the biggest looser ans i watched them ride there bike for 24 hours.. i am not that into it but i can and do most of the time put in over a hundred in a week or less some times.. this really does make your legs sore.. My kids will get on and do a little bit but it is my thing and i now like to do it.. - 2/25/2009   10:39:24 AM
  • 33
    I recently moved, and I'm about a mile from the train I take to work. i would feel ridiculous driving 1 mile and paying to park my car all day so I've been walking. It's about a 15 minute walk, and I've become "addicted" to it! There is a bus I could take, but I've found myself letting the bus pass me by in favor of getting the "me time" that walk home provides. Added bonus, it's 15 minutes daily of light-cardio! - 2/25/2009   9:29:34 AM
  • CMARTIN9
    32
    I am with you! I ride the bus most days, so I get my day started with a brisk walk into the office. On days I bring my lunch, I try to take 10-15 minutes to go for a walk once I'm done eating. That way, I've got 20 or more minutes already in for the day by the time I get home. If I don't have time to do more, I've done some. If I do have time, then I can do another 30-40 and have my hour in. Breaking it into increments really helps me. One of my sons has started going with me sometimes in the evening, which has taken away some of "my time". But it is so special to me that he wants to spend the time with me (he's 13) that I really enjoy it. Also, I think of the ride to and from work on the bus as my time to meditate or catch a few z's. That's how I do it most days. - 2/25/2009   9:02:37 AM
  • SASSY_QUEEN
    31
    I also, did 2 things. In the morning...my husband always got up first and hit the shower...I laid in bed...til he was done and then got up to take mine....I found, if I got up and exercised while he was showering...I worked up to now fitting 30 minutes in.

    The second thing I did began when the price of gas started soaring. I used to get in the car and take a ride at lunch time at work. Now....I walk for the same 30 minutes.

    I now can get 1 hour a day in........that doesn't interfere with my lifestlye at all......as time goes on.....you look to add even more time......using time you used to "waste" like doing the gazelle while I am watching TV........and I feel so much better. - 2/25/2009   9:01:59 AM
  • 30
    I did two things. I turned over everyones personal clothes to them to launder and fold, their clothes now stay in their rooms and they wash them theirselves, ( I have teenagers ) and I gave up some of the things I used to do with my downtime, like reading novels and watching certain tv shows. There are only two shows I watch once a week now, and I tape them til I can see them. I still read my health magazines but giving up reading books is twofold, besides giving me more time to exercise it took away a time when I used to snack. I can watch tv without eating, but I was in the habit of munching potato chips while reading a good book.
    - 2/25/2009   8:52:13 AM
  • 29
    You are NOT alone!!! I solve my "me time" problem by going to bed when the kids do and getting up at 4:30. From 4:30-6:15 is MY time - I do 2 SP strength videos (LOVE you, Coach Nicole!), write my blog, answer personal emails, log my SP fitness & nutrition, etc. At 6:30 it's time for family work - make b'fast, make lunches, get kids off to school - there's my 30 m of cardio, plus 30-60 more depending on how I do pickups. I never have to set foot in a gym (thank God!), I get all my workouts in, and I have time for me. And I agree w/ Phatlirpa but take it a step further - kill your television, eliminate video games, stop surfing the internet - you'll be amazed at how much time you really have! - 2/25/2009   8:17:39 AM
  • 28
    We all do exactly what we want to do with our 24 hours/day. Whether we are conscious of it or not, if we don't exercise, it is because we don't want to. We may tell ourselves we can't exercise because we don't have time, but that just isn't true. We have nothing but time. If we work a 40 or 80 hour a week job, have children to care for, homes to maintain, etc. those are all choices we have made because they are what we want. Absolutely nothing at all wrong with wanting those things or anything else. The problem seems to come in when we tell ourselves "I don't have a choice". Of course we have a choice. We make our choices and along with those choices are the consequences of them, whether that means using up time, money, or energy in order to have and do what we have chosen to do.

    Conversely, we find reasons to not do the things we don't want to do. We tell ourselves we don't have the time, money or energy to do them.

    I spent over a year being sick pretty much 24/7 about 5 years ago. Getting sick wasn't my choice but getting over it was. Back then walking around the block at a snail's pace was an exhaustive effort for me, but I did it once a day every day because I wanted to and the made the choice to and accepted the consequences that went along with that choice. I had had more than enough of the being sick rut I was in and hated that lifestyle, or more accurately, I hating losing the lifestyle I lost because of being sick.

    These days I not only got that lifestyle back, it is way better than it use to be even before I got sick. That didn't happen because fate or because I got lucky. It happened because it is what I wanted and because I made choices and accepted the consequences of those choices that were needed in order to make it happen. Along the way, I have found ways to maintain those choices given fixed limitations of time, money, and energy. When I was sick I had lots of time, since I couldn't work or even take care of the house, so I used that time to study physiology and nutrition, originally strictly for my own benefit and need. Once I recovered sufficiently and had fewer physical limitations I studied to become a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and nutritional consultant.

    So do I find the time to exercise? You bet! I made it my job to, both personally and professionally. I wake up every morning eager to start using my 24 hours to do exactly what I want to do. - 2/25/2009   8:16:10 AM
  • 27
    Carriele said it best in the first post; you have to block out the time in your schedule. I have been trying to do that more, and yes, it doesn't always happen. But I find it's because I don't respect or honor myself as much as everything/anything else. Why is laundry, answering the phone, running an errand, friends, family, pets, etc. more important than MY 10, 15, 20 minutes of time? Aren't I worth it? And, can't everything else wait? Unless the house is on fire, I bet the answer is yes. - 2/25/2009   8:01:45 AM
  • 26
    Getting rid of cable television, years ago, was the best decision i ever made. all of a sudden i had lots and lots of extra time in my day. Most of the places i have lived since then, when you don't have cable, you don't have any television stations at all. It's great! If we really want to watch something, we rent a movie. I read a lot more books now, have time to write those letters i always wanted to write, etc. etc. - 2/25/2009   6:25:53 AM
  • 25
    Right now, I'm student teaching and I really miss my exercise time. I'm at the high school for 9 hours a day, and then I usually spend another 3 hours working on class preparation or assignments for the university once I get home. My solution to the exercise problem is to walk as much during the day as I can. When my students are working on an assignment, I walk around the classroom; it's not only an opportunity for exercise, it's good for class discipline. I also consider myself lucky to be in a classroom on the second floor, especially as the copier room is on the first floor as those stairs are another exercise opportunity. - 2/25/2009   6:06:36 AM
  • 24
    I always seem to put everything and everyone else in the family's needs before my own and it's hard for me to break out of that habit.
    But, I do make my exercise time a number one priority for me. - 2/25/2009   6:05:36 AM
  • KAREN214
    23
    I always put exercise first in the morning because as the day goes on I have more and more excusses to not exercise. The personnel time is hard for me because mt children and husband feel as long as I am here I am for their needs. This is my fault because I do not create limits on my time. I have tried time in the evening just befor I go to bed for 10-20 mins, it works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. I feel women have more of a problem with this then men. - 2/25/2009   5:55:19 AM
  • 22
    I'm up early everyday!!.. I look forward to getting my workout in . Some people wonder why I continue on my workouts.(cause I lost the weight). The reason why is cause it feels SO GREAT!! & Its a great way to start out my day.. - 2/25/2009   5:36:26 AM

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