For most of us, the end of the workday doesn't mean our responsibilities are over for the day. Many of our everyday responsibilities start once we get home. Whether it's dinner plans, going to your child’s sporting event, or working on a big project after hours, there are days when your to-do list might seem never-ending. When you start to feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, finding time for yourself can seem like just another chore on your list.
When you do finally find some personal time, you're almost too exhausted to enjoy it. Maybe you read a book, have a glass of wine, or watch Netflix. You've carved out time for this because you know this hour or so of your day is vital to recovery. While it's important to incorporate things you enjoy into your routine, personal time doesn't necessarily have to be something you experience while you're awake. After the end of a long day, what you might really need is that extra hour of sleep.
I never really thought about the impact rethinking what we consider personal time could have until a client approached me to talk more about recovery. He told me how he felt there wasn't enough time in the day to get everything on his to-do list finished, find personal time, and get a full night of sleep. His daily routine of being a single parent, embarking on a 2-hour commute, sticking to his fitness goals, and averaging 5-6 hours per night of sleep left him feeling fatigued from all angles. Even though he was maintaining his current routine and successfully managing his responsibilities at home and at work, he still felt like he was falling short because of his lack of recovery.
We tried scheduling personal time as a strategic way to recover and incorporate more fun into his daily routine, but the idea of yet another daily activity on his list was keeping him from truly recovering. It turned out finding time for himself to unwind after his day wasn’t feasible until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. That's when I asked, “Why does your personal time have to happen while you're awake?” I instantly saw a lightbulb turn on in his brain. For him, this new way of thinking about what personal time could look like was a game-changer and allowed him to get the recovery he needed.
It's easy to get on the speed train but much more difficult to get off, step back, and get a clear picture of what recovery is and what we really need from it. Do you really need to stay awake to read or watch a movie just so you can check personal time off your to-do list? Or, do you need an extra hour of sleep to wake up feeling more energized?
When you’re planning for some personal time, pause and consider what you are planning on doing while imagining the impact that extra recovery time would allow you have on yourself and others.
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.