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The Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

Free Time Should be Me Time—Part 3

Hopefully, you've stopped laughing at the concept that indeed, there could be free time for yourself. What will ignite your desire for claiming this precious time is when you gain clarity over just what matters most at this point in your life.

Remember, there is the Law of Diminished Return. Specifically, the longer and harder you work, the quality of your output decreases. Exhaustion leads to errors, sloppiness, and a good chance that more time will be spent in “do-overs”

Relationships, if left unattended, can be compromised or even fade away. One of the case studies in my book Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matter lost his marriage because his wife said he was married to his Blackberry—an Android smart phone. For example: I had dinner the other night in a 40-year-old tiny Italian restaurant. It was Valentine’s Day! Sadly, I watched literally every couple put their attention on a phone screen: texting, reading or emailing. So much for love and romance!

Thoreau proclaimed that the first wealth was health. Billions in the bank might create a luxurious lifestyle but it won’t keep your muscles toned, your heart operating at optimum efficiency, or your brain from mental decline.

1. Block out time that you consider “sacred” for yourself. Set a goal as to what you want in that time. What fills your heart, your spirit, your body with energy? Happiness? Dare I even say “joy”?

2. If allowing yourself “me” time is a foreign notion, start small. Could you set aside 15 minutes in the morning to just be quiet? No noise. No newspaper. No talking. No cell phone. Just sit in an upright position and breathe. Picture the kind of day you’d like to have. Itemize all the things for which you are grateful. You might need to get up earlier but it could very well allow your “time” to become more controlled by you!

3. Identify and set a goal for whatever exercise is reasonable. Could you do that exercise at least 3 times a week? Walking? Biking? Running? Swimming? Weights? Yoga? Reward yourself each time you do this. I never exercised until I celebrated my 30th birthday. I decided to buy fun stickers and put them in my day timer whenever I did a form of exercise. It was a small start but how I smiled to open up a page and see stickers. I also protected that time by letting people know, if they wanted to schedule something, that I was already “booked”. I didn’t say the appointment was with myself. No one EVER asked me to cancel it. I took control of that time.

4. Who matters most to you at this time in your life? Are you spending time with them so that—if they vanished tomorrow—you’d have no regrets? It might be a child who wants your uninterrupted attention and time. Or—on the other end of the age spectrum, it could be an aging parent or a spouse. I cared for my Mom in the last six years of her life. Time with her—whether singing, sharing a meal, or reading to her—was precious. No regrets. My husband is considerably older than I. With the passage of time, my work attention has shifted so I can pay better attention and spend time with him. It’s a different life phase!

5. Lastly, in your “me time”, is there something you’d like to learn? To experience? It might be a future goal but researching and starting along that road gives you a sense that YOU are in control of your life.

For those of us crafting this thing called “life” and finding free time for me-time could benefit from the wisdom I learned from watching toddlers.

It might be well to heed their tiny voices. They tell us:

Explore everything. Often. And over again. There’s something missed the first time.

Smile and laugh much.

Put your arms up when you need help. Can’t do everything alone.

Fall asleep when your body says to.

Taste everything.

You don’t have to like everybody. But you can put up with some of them for a short time.

Read books that make you smile and have funny, new words.


Trust grownups who care for you even if they make you do things you don’t want to do.

Love people who can’t get around like you can.

And if all else fails, smile again. You’ll win them over every time.

Grinning as I write this last line, I wish all of you a bountiful, blessed, bodacious, beautiful, bigger-than-your-biggest dreams, bursting with vitality 2020. And may we all find a child to guide us. #healing #life

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