Could you carve out 20 minutes a day for yourself? Most of us can’t, or won’t. We clean the house, work, pack lunches, do school pickups, and neglect to find any time for ourselves.
According to the ABS Time Use Survey, 17 per cent of our day is spent on committed activities such as caring for children, and 16.5 per cent of our day is spent on contracted activities such as employment and education. Our free time (socialising and recreation), takes up 20.6% of our day and the remaining 45.9% is spent on necessary activities such as sleeping and eating.
This is how the ABS pictures your average day:
Daily, we apparently have 4.8 hours of free time… but if you’re reading this, could you really say you have this much spare time available every day? It may seem a bit unrealistic to try to keep this amount of time aside in between long work shifts and family commitments. However, if we aim to make 20 minutes for ourselves every day, we could see a massive change in our emotional and physical wellbeing. So how can we fit in 20 minutes every day to spend time alone and what should we be doing during this time?
What we discuss in this article
- How Aussies value their alone time
- How to make time for yourself every day through these 10 quick steps
- The 6 reasons why you should seek solitude as much as possible
- The one piece of advice every person needs to hear from an actual human being
How Aussies value their alone time
Many of us tend to measure our success in life by how much we accomplish day to day. However, what we also forget is that claiming time for ourselves can be just as rewarding for our general wellbeing. Dr Robert Amato from Body & Health Creation says an average week for him consists of treating 70 – 80 patients across nearly 6 working days, but he tries to fit in some alone time wherever he can.
“I try to train three or four days a week and take some time to be alone and do the things I love. There are 168 hours in a week, all you need to do is choose 3 hours during that time to spend alone and focus on your own needs,” Dr Amato explains.
Rachel Power, creator of the Great Aussie Road Trip also works an incredibly busy week juggling work and family time, but still manages to find time to be alone.
“Create alone time like you’re booking in a doctor’s appointment. We all respect a doctor’s appointment and don’t reschedule, we turn up on time and we don’t forget them. Time to yourself is just the same,” Rachel says.
It’s easier said than done to incorporate alone time into your working week, but we give you 10 super simple ways to make time for yourself nearly every day.
How to make time for yourself every day through these 10 quick steps
1. Spend a few weeknights by yourself: Try to choose a couple of evenings a week for just you. If friends ask to do something that night, tell them you have plans!
2. Treat yourself monthly: Schedule a special treat for yourself once a month; whether it’s on your lunch break or during the weekend. Go see a movie, get your nails done or have a nice big lunch – make sure you enjoy your time alone.
3. Actually leave work on time: If you’re the kind of person to stay at work late on a regular basis then it’s time to make a change and actually leave on time! Leave work at work.
4. Take public transport instead: Leave your car in the garage and let someone else take the wheel; catch the bus and take the time to read, write or even meditate on your way to work.
5. Swap your vehicles for a work walk: Not only does walking keep you fit and healthy, but it also gives you that extra 20 – 30 minutes in the morning to think and enjoy time alone.
6. Get to places earlier: If you have scheduled an appointment or a meeting, plan to arrive 15 minutes earlier – this is one of the easiest ways to find that extra “me” time.
7. Spend your lunch breaks alone: Switch off in the afternoons by taking your lunch and a good book to a bench or park near work. Enjoy the quiet time!
8. Wake up earlier: I know this doesn’t seem especially appealing but that extra half an hour in the morning can give you time to take a long shower or eat a proper breakfast. Slowing down now and again can help you rediscover some great alone time.
9. Take your dog for a long walk on the weekends: A dog can really be your best friend in more ways than one! Having a furry companion can motivate you to take longer walks and let you spend that extra time alone to think out loud (without any judgement!)
10. Book a babysitter and go out: If you’re itching to get out the house and have some “me” time, book a babysitter to look after the kids and go out for a nice drink or meal. Try to do this fortnightly and enjoy the quiet time.
The 6 reasons why you should seek solitude as much as possible
Clears the mind: Our minds store an incredible amount of information throughout the week. We collect so much that we can sometimes be overwhelmed with our thoughts. We need the time to process and organise the information we have accumulated over time. Slow down and remove yourself from the constant flow of new information. Absorb the day’s activities and take time to clear your head, ready to take on another full day of new information! The Headspace app is a great way to clear your head through its 10 minute meditation lessons.
Helps you learn things about yourself: When taking the time to be alone and enjoy your own company, you gain some insight into who you are as an individual. You begin to notice the way you think and how your thoughts and judgements form. We may think all the time but sitting down and spending time with your thoughts can help you learn a bit more about the person you are and may want to be in the future. Get to know yourself a little bit more. Why not take part in a creative journaling workshop and spend some time writing down your thoughts while getting crafty.
Relieves anxiety: It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re busy all the time. If we don’t take the time to slow down, we can begin to feel anxious and unhappy. Even if you have a huge work day lined up or a weekend full of social events, take at least an half an hour during that time to go for a walk and be by yourself. Clear your head and get back into the day with happier and less anxious thoughts. Staying mentally healthy and happy is what matters above all else – remember this. Exercise is another way you can spend your alone time to relieve stress and anxiety. Watch some of Fitness Blender’s workout videos and feel your anxieties fall away.
Helps you become less dependent on others: Many people don’t like to be alone as they feel the need to see others and be more social. The “fear of missing out” mindset overtakes the desire to spend time without friends. A lot of us are dependent on others for our own happiness and we become miserable as soon as we find ourselves alone in the house. Friends and family are distractions from our everyday lives but we need to believe that we are capable of our own happiness. Being alone doesn’t mean you’re missing out, it means you’re shifting your priorities and discovering what makes you happy when no one is around. Perhaps a trip by yourself could erase all fears of being alone. Encounter Travel have some incredible holidays planned for solo travellers and guarantee that you won’t be feeling lonely when you come home!
Helps you to become more creative: Creativity can be stunted when we get into a routine of doing the same things every day: what we do at work, what we do on weekdays/weekends, what we eat, who we interact with etc. Doing the same things every day can dry up any new ideas you have, so it’s important to break the organisational process in life and give yourself space to think. Stop what you’re doing and do something different. Being alone and exploring the creative side of your brain can help ignite a new way of thinking and new passions you might want to chase after. Start a new course and discover a passion or talent you never knew you had! This could involve learning a language, writing, music or cooking.
Allows time to set your priorities straight: You may think you know what you want and what you like, your strengths and weaknesses, but you might be surprised at the answers you find when alone. Giving yourself time to set priorities within your work and personal life may help you make some big decisions about where to prioritise the most time. Do you need more focus on your career? Your family? Social life? Take the time to discover what matters most to you and set your priorities and goals straight. CNN’s work/life balance calculator can show how you prioritise your time and where you can make the changes.
The one piece of advice every person needs to hear from an actual human being
Tad Lombardo, Owner and Head Chocolatier at Cioccolato Lombardo works six days a week and doesn’t find a lot of time to set aside for himself. However, he has learnt something valuable while trying to balance his work and home life: nobody is perfect.
“I have moments when I wonder, who do I think I am trying to fit everything into one day? I often need to remind myself that I am a human being who gets tired. I sometimes go months without having two consecutive days off, and it’s tough on my physical and emotional wellbeing,” Tad explains.
“One of the things I had to learn to do was to say, “No.” This is probably the hardest thing, especially for a small business as every bit of income counts, but there are just so many hours in the day. We can find time to just stop what we’re doing for a while.”
“Nothing is perfect, my life is certainly not perfect and I don’t have it all figured out. There are still moments when I ask myself, what have I done? I left a secure, high paying job to earn a lot less, but I have much more satisfaction in what I am doing now and it’s not always about the money,” Tad says.
So how do you split up your day to find time to be alone? Post your favourite ways to spend “me” time on our Facebook page!