I Can't Find the Time...

redefining after 50 self-care May 17, 2022
I don't have enough time?

This is something that I hear every single day from women in this community.  Truth be told, I've even been known to utter the phrase myself.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, for the majority of us, this is an excuse that our brains are giving us, to stop us from moving forward with any possible changes. 

And we women in this community have plenty of evidence to prove that we indeed, do not have the time.    Some period of time each day to focus on something that is not for anyone else but ourselves.   Uninterrupted time.

Why Is This?

Not having time is a lament for all adults, regardless of age.    However, for this community of women, I believe the reasons are different.   Most of us are no longer balancing small children along with other demands such as career or school.   However, many of us are caring for senior parents, grandchildren, and spouses.   We may still be working.  Regardless of our age, we are balancing.   We are just balancing different roles on different levels.

And, in addition to continuing to balance, many of us have one or more of the following going on - in our lives and in our brains:

We Are Master Multitaskers - And This is NOT a Good Thing

One of the coaches in my blogging program who specializes in all things organization and time management, talked last year about how when we shift focus, it takes our brain 20 minutes to get back into full focus on the task we are working on.

Let's say you've decided to work on your workbook or journal for 20 minutes.   But, then you get a text.   You answer that.   And go back to journaling.  And get an email which you answer.   And go back to journaling.   

Your 20 minute timer goes off.  In that time, you've probably actually journaled for 15 minutes, at most.   And your brain never had a chance to really focus on the task at hand.  Your reflecting and journaling wasn't given the attention that it deserved at all during that 20 minutes.

We pride ourselves on being able to manage 3 or more things at the same time.   But, in reality, when we do this, we aren't managing anything totally well.   Nothing is getting our complete focus.   It's physically impossible for our brain to do this.

We Continue to React to the Needs of Everyone Else 

At the expense of our own.   Take another look at the example above.  You have set a timer to focus on yourself, yet you aren't.   You've allowed other people's texts or emails to take priority during your you time.

Does this situation sound familiar?

Something that I've been working very hard on for the past 6-7 months is creating true focus time on whatever it is that I'm working on.    I set a timer for anywhere from 20-45 minutes and I put my phone AWAY.   I close out all of my email tabs.   And I work on whatever it is I've decided I'm going to work on with no interruptions.  The only thing I would pause for is if my husband or one of my parents or children called.   They have individual ring tones so I don't have to look at the phone to know it's an important family member.   I answer, make sure it's not an emergency, and tell them I'll call them back in ____ minutes (however many left in my focused work session).

It is truly amazing how much more gets accomplished in a short amount of time.   When we are focused on it.

At the end of each of these sessions, I reward myself with checking emails and texts and returning phone calls, as needed.

We Struggle With Saying "No" When Asked to Do Something

When we say "yes" to something that is not one of our priorities, we are saying "no" to something that is. 

Anytime I'm asked to do something now, before I say "yes" to it, I take a good look at what I've got going on and I ask myself:

  • Does this request fit into my priorities or values list on this side of 50?
  • How much of my time will it take and what will I possibly be giving up to get it done?

And, if I'm not content with either of my answers to those questions, I now say "no."  

We Have a Need for Things to Be Perfect

Sometimes (often) you just have to say "what the hell" and take some messy action. Taking action is more important than continuing to procrastinate by planning and scheduling.   Don't get me wrong.   Planning and scheduling are also important.   But, if you look within, you'll know whether your planning and scheduling has become more of a procrastination issue because you're afraid to take the action steps.   You might be focusing on all of the negative "what ifs." 

Ask yourself, "What's the BEST that can happen if I do this?"   And then do it!

Many of Us are Fairly Content in Our Current Existence!

Which is a blessing for sure!   But, if that contentment is leading to complacency, then it becomes a bit of a curse.  Taking a good honest look at the various roles in our lives and how we're feeling in each one can give us some information on the extent of our contentment and whether it is moving towards complacency.

Other Important Points and Tips to Consider

1)   In most cases, more time will not create more or different results.   We tend to get done what we need to in the amount of time that we are given.  When we give ourselves more time, we stretch out our deadline to obtain the same results.

2)   Set aside some focus time each day to work on something for you.   Whether it's time to journal or do your reflections, time to walk or exercise, take steps towards your next project - schedule that 30 or so minutes of time and treat it like an appointment.   Set your timer, put your phone away, and don't allow any interruptions.   

3)   Take a week and track how you spend your time.   You will be amazed at the amount of time ACTUALLY spent playing Candy Crush Saga, Words with Friends (I had to delete the game from my phone, finally), or aimlessly scrolling social media.   It's more than "just 5 minutes" for most of us.

My Words with Friends habit was easily taking up at least an hour of my time daily.  Which was significantly more time than what I told myself.

So, yes.   We can find plenty of evidence that we just don't have the time right now to take for ourselves.  

But, I bet there is evidence that we do have the ability to take some time each day to reflect and figure out what it is we might want to do on this side of 50.