It’s not always easy to make time for activities that make you feel happy, fulfilled, or alive. But just a few minutes a day, every day, will help renew your energy and sustain you during difficult times.
Download the free workbook (new!) that accompanies this episode.
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How to Make Time for What Fuels You
Our busy schedules at work and home can deplete our energy, leaving us feeling scattered and worn out, with way more on our To Do lists than we can actually accomplish. When we don’t replenish the fuel in our tank, we find ourselves running on empty and heading toward burnout. We may even forget which activities fuel us, because it’s been so long since we’ve done them!
How often have you made it through a day or week and realized you haven’t done anything just because it made you feel happy, fulfilled, or energized?
We know it’s not always easy. We all have our own challenges to deal with. But giving yourself at least a few minutes a day, every day, will help renew your energy and sustain you during difficult times, allowing you to make your fullest contribution to your goals and to other people.
This can feel like just one more item on your To-Do list. But it really is so important to plan time for yourself. A pre-emptive For the Record: this topic is meant to help you be good to yourself – not feel bad if you’re not making time for what fuels you yet!
Figure Out What Fuels You
Before we can incorporate more of what fuels us into our day, we need to figure out what those pastimes are. Maybe you haven’t forgotten the activities you most love to do, but you don’t always do them. Or over time, you may have lost sight of those things that fuel you because it’s been so long.
Melia read a quote in a newsletter she loves, The Daily Good, that resonated with her: “It is only when we suspend our addiction to motion and quest for achievement that we can rest—and dream, again.”
Melia’s Fuel Boosters
- Taking an online course
- Singing and playing guitar and piano
- Dancing or Zumba
- Listening to a podcast or audiobook + cleaning
- Spending time with a small group of close friends or family (when the kids are being cool; if not, it’s depleting!)
Gratitude journaling – writing down three good things about every day (which we talked about in Episode 15: Choosing Optimism) has helped her figure out what fuels her so she can do more of those things. Big themes are: connecting with her tribe, making progress toward goals, and enjoying other people’s creative work or making her own.
Gill’s Fuel Boosters
Journaling about three good things has also helped Gill identify patterns, especially in the area of health and self-care, relationships, food and travel, and creative projects
- Listening to podcasts and audiobooks
- Semi-Together or other creative projects
- Spending time with family or friends
- Making fun future plans
For Melia, making time for her activities requires finding blocks of time between work, taking care of the kids, keeping the household running. The key is zeroing in on these moments – like early in the morning and late in the evening – and knowing what to use them for.
- Competing priorities (choosing between creative time or sleep, gym, or time with family)
- Lack of planning for how to use the time
- Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good
For Gill, it’s important to be intentional about the things she wants to do, preparing in advance and mapping out her daily or weekly schedule. Otherwise, time will get away from her and she’ll spend time focusing on other people’s priorities or spinning her wheels.
- Wanting to do all of the things, all at once, and ending up distracted or overwhelmed
- Managing blurred lines between home/ paid work/ real work priorities
In order to help you figure out what fuels you and be intentional about making time for it, we’ve created a free workbook: How to Make Time for What Fuels You. We hope it’s useful – let us know what you think!
Step 1: Define what fuels you.
Get a piece of paper and a pen and ask yourself what you’d do if you had an entire day to yourself. What do you lose track of time doing? What makes you feel refreshed?
If you can’t think of any, remember what you liked to do as a kid. Is it still fun for you to do those things?
Step 2: Figure out when you can make time for those things.
Look at your calendar and locate the blocks of time where you can squeeze in these activities. It could be an afternoon nap on the weekends, or 20 minutes of walking around the neighborhood in the morning. Add these blocks to your calendar and turn on notifications if it’s digital. If you plan for it, you can replace the time you spend on something that’s not as fulfilling to you, like scrolling mindlessly through social media in bed when you first wake up.
Content yourself with even the smallest blocks of time — you’re forming a new habit, so make it doable. You can always expand the timeframe later! And if you live with other people, you might look for ways you can involve them in what fuels you.
Step 3: Prepare your tools so you can take advantage of your time.
You don’t want to spend your precious time figuring out what to do or locating the things you need to do it, so decide in advance what you want to do and set out anything you need to do it (your laptop, workout clothes, a musical instrument). Make it as seamless as possible!
Now, go do it! Commit to a one-week experiment. Then go back and see when you did the things that fuel you. Adjust the schedule for the following week. And remember that you can do everything you want to, just not all at once, so think about rotating the things that fuel you into those blocks of time you’ve reserved.
Download the free guide for more details, tips, and examples.
Get It Together / Got It Together
We each share something that’s going well for us at the moment, and something else that we’d like to work on.
Melia Get It Together: Injuring herself regularly
Melia Got It Together: Meeting her goal to read or listen to six books this year
Gill’s Get It Together: Not making important appointments
Gill’s Got It Together: Buying new shoes
Get In Touch
What activities fill your tank and fuel you? How do you work them into your day? Email us at podcast[at]semitogether.com, or send us a voice memo. You can also leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. If the podcast has brought joy to your life, why not share it with someone else? And sign up for our e-newsletter.
- Semi-Together Patreon page
- The Daily Good newsletter
- Stuart Brown’s TED talk: Play is more than just fun
- Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk: Do schools kill creativity?
- Free workbook: How to Find Time for What Fuels You