Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Five-Minute Fix: You

After last week's introduction to The Five-Minute Fix, let's tackle how to find time for you in the midst of your busy life.

The best way to start taking care of yourself is to begin noticing what you are doing now. Use a five-minute diary once a day to briefly jot down some observations. First, write down anything you did for yourself. This includes things like a shower, putting on make-up, taking a nap, getting exercise, taking a coffee break, reading a magazine, eating dessert, etc. Include whatever you do for self-care or recreation, even if you feel a bit guilty about it, because this information is important in the process of recharging your life. Second, record any free time you had. Was it an hour after the kids were in bed? In the afternoon during music lessons? In the morning before school started? Record this time, even if you didn't use it for anything.

Any desk calendar will work to hold theses brief jottings. If you want a structured page and don't have one, you can download a free one here. Print out a few of these, punch holes in them, and put them into a notebook or folder. Instead of using this form to plan your week, use it to record your week. Just concentrate on recording anything you did for yourself and any free time. You can also add a general idea of what happened each day, like "school" or "co-op day" or "doctor's office," since these larger events make a difference.

You"ll find it easier to use your diary if you write in it at the same time each day, along with a regular activity like breakfast or bedtime, and if you put it in the place where that activity happens. Place the diary by your coffee pot to write in it with that first cup of the day, or put it beside the bed for a summary before your bedtime reading.

It's important to keep your notes brief. Making them too long will discourage you from being consistent. Then, after a few days, think about what you've noticed.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

1. Where do free pockets of time usually happen?

2. How do I fill those pockets of time? Do I fill them at all?

3. Is this effective? Does it really refresh me? Does it bring me joy? Does it strengthen me?

4. What am I already doing for myself everyday?

Once you see what you are already doing and where your discretionary time naturally occurs, you will be ready for the next step: making adjustments. The Five-Minute Fix is not about finding more time or making more time. It's about using the time you already have, as you have it.

You may feel that you do not need to record what you do for yourself. You may be able to read my questions and answer them readily without much research. Or you may find that you have no idea where the time is going, just that it passes. Either way, answers to these questions will guide the simple changes you can begin making to bring more vitality and joy into your life.

The Five-Minute Fix, copyright 2009 by Cassandra Frear.

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