How to Balance Work and Time for Self-Care: The Blessing of Conscious Time Management

Which comes first, work or time for self-care? Can we optimize our tasks to have more time for self-care? The answer is YES!
Time for Self-Care

There are a million things we must do but so little time. So how do we maximize a limited resource such as time? Which comes first, work or time for self-care? Can we optimize our tasks to have more time for self-care? The answer is YES! 

Work often consumes a great deal of our energy. When we get home from work, what do we do? Family and household chores! It’s no surprise that we have little time for self-care. Having no time for self-care is what drains, demotivates, and burns us out. We must carve out time to take care of ourselves to remain energized, motivated, happy, and even flourish in our work and personal lives. 

Time management is the skill in which we organize and divide our time into different activities. Here are some ways to find balance between working and finding time for self-care through time management.

Creating Time for Self-Care

Follow a consistent sleep schedule:  Healthy restorative sleep is the #1 priority in self-care. A minimum of seven hours must be spent sleeping, research suggests. In addition, studies proved that getting an ample amount of sleep reduces stress and can improve our mood. In other words, adequate sleep is making time for self-care. 

Without enough sleep, we are agitated and tired. Drowsiness limits our decision-making, social, analytical, and practical skills, such as driving. 

Getting ample sleep is only part of it. You must set a time for sleep and follow it consistently. By having a stable sleeping pattern, we develop our “body clock .” After building this routine, our body will be the one to naturally instruct us to go to sleep and wake us up without needing a mechanical alarm clock. Establishing a consistent sleep routine can solve the problem of having trouble sleeping. 

Follow these tips to sleep more easily:

  • It doesn’t matter if you have a day or night shift as long as you make sure that the room is dark. Darkness signals your brain that it is time to sleep.
  • If you’re a light sleeper, wear ear plugs. There are several comfortable foam varieties on the market that are very effective at noise reduction.  
  • Avoid caffeine and chocolate in the evening. Eat a light dinner two hours before going to bed, and moderate alcohol consumption.
  • Put any gadget away at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Many devices have blue light, which suppresses melatonin production, the chemical responsible for controlling our sleep cycle.
  • Before jumping in bed, take a hot shower to remove any pollen from the day; you’ll unwind and relax.
  • Lavender essential oil promotes relaxation. Purchase a lavendar pillow spray or make your own. You can spray a little on your pillowcase or put a dot of the essential oil directly on each shoulder before going to sleep. 
  • Make your sleeping environment conducive to sleeping, meaning little to no noise, a comfortable bed, and good airflow in the room.

Know your priorities:  With 17 hours of our day left, the next thing is sorting out our priorities. Time management is a straightforward concept but can be challenging to implement. Life is unpredictable. Knowing which activity comes first gives you a starting point for the day. 

Knowing your priorities also implies knowing the distractions. It can be the pointless gossip after work, the unhealthy social media relationship, or the gadgets you pick up. When you know what’s stalling you from progressing through your day, you can plan a way to avoid them. 

Making time for self-care should be on the list of priorities. Include some time for physical activity and relaxation each day. Make time to meditate, go to a Tai Chi or Zumba class, watch movies, and bond with your family and friends—do things that count and make YOU happy.

Follow these tips to know your priorities better:

  • Make a list of your errands for the day. Different applications can help you list your activities and easily organize them according to their importance.
  • To help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, do a SWOT Analysis. Draw a four-group matrix diagram and label each box as: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Fill them in accordingly to discover yours.

Plan your day:  Once you know your priorities, you can develop an organized plan. Time management is careful planning. So perhaps use ten minutes every morning planning your day, remembering to include time for self-care. Build-in allowances and anticipate surprises and detours. 

One constant each day is the setting of the sun. Make sure you’re living the life you want at the end of each day. When you plan and take action, you will reach your goals and have something you’re proud of and grateful for each day.

Follow these tips to plan your day better:

  • Use a journal. When we jot essential things down, we create a sense of ease for ourselves, knowing that we have our journal to refer to. It helps us stay on track and monitor our progress. Whatever you don’t complete today, write down on tomorrow’s pages.
  • Don’t over-commit yourself. Over committing creates stress and disorganization. If an activity doesn’t fit in the day anymore, reschedule it. After all, you have your priorities set. 
  • Time-block. This is the most effective way of planning your day because you set a definite amount of time for a task to help you be more productive. Ensure that you give each task an adequate amount of time and include a buffer for distractions.

Integrate time for self-care during work:  How does one integrate self-care at work? Simple—a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that seeks positivity and healthiness is vital in balancing your work and self-care. There are many ways you can integrate self-care at work.

Follow these tips to integrate time for self-care at work successfully:

  • Build healthy relationships with your workmates. Don’t gossip; genuinely get to know them better and listen sincerely. Healthy connections make for a happier workplace.
  • Plan for a relaxed commute to work. Add ten or fifteen minutes to your regular commute and walk to work if possible. Take in nature and avoid using your cellphone during the walk. If you ride the train, walk from the station. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car in the furthest parking space from your workplace and enjoy the sunshine (or rain) and nature as you walk to the building. Physical activity stimulates the brain, nature relaxes us, and we feel and perform better when moving our bodies. If you can, always look for the physical route and avoid convenience.
  • The days are long, especially when your job requires a lot of sitting. Put an hourly timer on your watch to remind you to get up from your desk and stretch, do some squats, or close your eyes and take five slow deep breaths. The benefits of these healthy mini breaks accumulate throughout the day.
  • Check your posture when sitting at your desk, put a smiley face sticker or sticky note at the top of your computer that reminds you to smile and sit up straight. Remember to unfold your legs to promote healthy circulation. 
  • Eat healthy meals. Long days and tiredness can tempt you to indulge in unhealthy eating. Plan ahead, and pack healthy snacks you can bring to work with you.
  • Limit your caffeine intake and plan to drink only water while at work. 
  • Take care of yourself; the better YOU feel, the more you smile, the friendlier you are, and the more productive you’ll be!

Then of course, there’s the ripple effect; everyone around you will feel your positivity and want to elevate their energy to match yours.

Time as a limited resource:  When we remember that time is a constraint, we try to do as much as possible. THIS IS WRONG, it’s FOMO, or a fear of missing out on life, of being left behind. It creates overwhelm, dissatisfaction, errors, and imbalance. 

When you think about a flower seed growing into a beautiful flower, does it look at the other seedlings and try to keep up and rush its growth? Or does it naturally blossom into a beautiful flower at its own pace? 

You are not late nor early, ahead nor behind. You are right on time. You are simply living life at your pace. Don’t permit the beliefs, intensity, or pressures of others to influence your life path negatively. Have your plan, and you do you! Allow your life to unfold; when we rush or try to force things, we create stress and misery for ourselves. Life is precious; take time to honor and enjoy the journey every day.

When you shift your mindset to seeing time as a limited resource, as truth, and not an ultimatum or race, you become freer to manage your time and find the balance to pursue adventures that give justice to the life you are given.

About Karen Quiros:

Karen is a lifelong New Yorker living on the beautiful east end of Long Island. For over 21 years, she has been inspiring wellness seekers in her practice Balanced Wellness Consulting. Where she intuitively guides and supports clients desiring to heal themselves naturally. Karen cured herself of endometriosis & systemic lupus, and utilizes her experience and training in nursing, natural health, nutrition, positive psychology, quantum biofeedback, mindfulness, and yoga to guide her clients. 

Karen spends her time between Long Island and Costa Rica, where she facilitates workshops and soul-nourishing retreats using her signature program, the Happiness Compass©. She cured herself of systemic lupus over 25 years ago and is passionate about spreading the message that lasting healing begins with self-reliance. She created the Happiness Compass©, an accessible online self-paced version of her coaching work, to fulfill her desire to reach more seekers to give them hope that they too can heal themselves. Karen knows that illness stems from a disintegration of the mind, body, and Soul. She believes that by going within and trusting the wisdom of the Soul, we awaken to healing and a life of wholeness and deep fulfillment. 

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