Q: I always go into the year with the best intentions. I have a lot of interests and enjoy several hobbies, and I have a long list of books and articles I want to read. But time and time again, my work gets in the way. I have a demanding job, and it seems like someone always needs something from me, so it’s hard enough to get through my to-do list, let alone have time for relaxation and pursuing things that interest me. On top of that, I have young kids, which makes it especially difficult to find quiet time to myself. Do you have advice for how I can make this year different?
A: Excellent question, and one that many of us can relate to! There are a few parts to our answer:
- How much do you really want to prioritize your interests and hobbies in relation to work and spending time with your family? While we advocate strongly for self-care, sometimes this may not be realistic for everyone given other demands. Given this, it really comes down to whether you want to prioritize interests/hobbies in the first place.
- If you really do want to make time for them, we suggest doing a quick audit of how you’re currently spending your time. Sometimes, we spend time doing things that we aren’t highly aware of, like on social media or YouTube; or doing them in an inefficacious manner, like multi-tasking and attempting to do three things at once, realizing at the end that you could have done it all quicker if you had tackled them one by one.
- Scheduling time is important. Often, we treat interests or self-care time as optional, which is why they get pushed aside for other obligations. However, if you want to make sure you get to your interests, then we suggest adding your “goals” for your hobbies (e.g. Spend 10 hours on X, or master Y) to your To-Do Matrix and use your calendar to schedule time slots and reminders for them — and stick to them. Don’t cop out on them, just like you wouldn’t just not turn up for a meeting!
- Create a boundary or space for yourself, specifically for your hobby. Prime your brain to think about your interests when you are in that space. For example, maybe you want to spend more time reading — you can set up a chair next to your bed where you always go to read. That way, when you sit in that chair, you get into the mindset for reading.
- Lastly, enlist your family’s help. Set expectations that you would like to focus on your hobbies or me-time. Arrange for your family members to step in where needed, when you may be concentrating on your interests.