This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays king, ruins town, And beats high mountain down. -Gollum Riddle, The Hobbit
Time. It seems to be endless, yet it’s become more precious than gold. It can stand still, and it can zoom by. It can age, and it can heal.
It’s a steady constant that governs days, months, years, and seasons like, well, clockwork. So why does it take so many forms? Why does it seem like a fickle trickster, messing with our concept of what time actually is?
I’m sorry to say that the problem, dear reader, is actually us and our brilliant human minds.
We have turned time into a scarcity, a luxury, and even an adversary. But the good news is that we can also turn it into an abundant friend who is always on our side.
How this applies to self-care is that the number one reason I hear for people not having a personal practice is that they don’t have enough time. But I submit that you do most certainly have all of the time that you need.
I shall categorize some helpful insights into two categories: Timing and Timing
Timing the Duration
Along with reframing what you think a personal practice has to be, there is also understanding how much time your practice actually requires.
I’ve timed my morning self-care ritual before, and I couldn’t believe that my meditation/breathing/sometimes journaling check-in averages between 5-10 min. It can take longer if I include some yoga or extended meditation, but my non-negotiable daily practices take very little time.
This has been really helpful knowledge because when I have mornings where I sleep in a bit or have early morning commitments, I know my check-in only takes 5 min., and I actually do have time for it before I head out the door.
Before I timed my practices of choice, it seemed like it took a long time. This is because I felt like I got so much done within that time, but also because at first it felt pretty daunting. There was so much I wanted to do and thought I had to do that I couldn’t imagine having enough time for all of it.
But timing how long things actually took helped me carve out the time needed, and it brought my concept of time back into real-time. And real-time is where it’s at.
I have also applied this trick to some of my daily tasks that are not my favorite, like doing the dishes or cleaning up after my 7-month-old puppy hurricane. It seems like I have to take big chunks of time out of the day to get things done, but keeping things tidy takes just as much time as a social media break. Again, real life time for the win.
Be Wise with Your Timing
Another important thing to consider is the timing of your activities. Going back to the dishes example. If I break from my workday to do housework, it frequently disrupts my productivity. And vise versa, resulting in me feeling like I didn’t do anything that great.
But cleaning up right after a meal or while my coffee is brewing in the morning, it’s a quick, appropriately timed activity that only disrupts my laziness vibes.
So set yourself up for success when it comes to self-care. Choose times of the day where it can fit organically into your life. Is there a good time during your workday when you can get up and stretch? Can you fit in some mindful breathing during your lunch break? Is it easier to go to the gym first thing in the morning or on your way home from work? Are there pockets of quiet time at home where you can check-in with yourself?
There is no right or wrong here, but where people get stuck is assuming that there is a right or wrong. You know yourself really well, so be wise with your timing and make space for the things that matter the most.
The other thing worth mentioning is that incorporating a new practice into your life can seem daunting and actually take a little more time at first, but the more familiar it gets, the more routine, the less real time it takes and the less mental time and effort it takes.
I wish you well on your time endeavors. And remember, time is on your side.