Time to Put Yourself First

Life is all about priorities- which things you choose to make time for in your life and which things you don’t.

This can include your work, your family, your hobbies and, in a society where the ‘normal’ thing is to have it all (or want it all), it can be really hard to prioritise your time.

So, for want of being controversial, I’m going to suggest that you put yourself first for once, both financially and in terms of time.

Time is finite – in this world at least, which means that it is time to make some choices about your values and priorities. When you’ve done this, it’s time to take it to the next level, and to use a life empowering word – setting you free and creating the time to follow your dream.


The magic word

It’s often the first word we learn as a child and use frequently until our parents and teachers condition us out of it…the word NO.

As an adult, we try to avoid saying no for fear that we will let someone down or cause discomfort to someone who has asked us a question or made a request of us. But often this leads us to a culture where we fill our time with things that do nothing towards enriching our lives or fulfilling our dreams.

We are so busy doing stuff, that we get overloaded and feel like the world is spinning out of control leaving to a cycle of tiredness, lethargy and a constant need to cram things into our time.

The things that we really want to do get pushed aside and this leads us to feel unfulfilled and that we are wading through treacle.


So it’s time to be selfish

Do you use a diary or calendar to organise your week?

It doesn’t matter if it’s an all-singing and dancing app or an old fashioned paper version – either will be effective. Imagine that you have just received a call from someone important to say that you need to attend the funeral of a relative next Wednesday morning between 10am and 2pm. You arrange to take time out of your business, block it out in your diary and make arrangements for transport, what to wear and buy a suitable card of sympathy.

Later that day you receive a call from a client or other important business contact – can I come and see you Wednesday at 10.30am please?

What do you say?

You politely (I hope) explain that you have a prior commitment, and offer them an alternative appointment.

So how about planning some time out in your diary for you?

Set in stone some time each day or week which is sacrosanct for you – and be prepared to treat is as importantly as you would Auntie Jean’s funeral. You are just as important – and need to invest time in yourself.

How you spend this time is up to you, and will depend on how much time you have and how frequently.

  • Relaxation – read a book, meditate, pray or go for a run
  • Personal development – listen to an audiobook, learn a new skill or a language
  • Spend quality time with your loved ones – watch a DVD with your husband or take the kids to the park
  • Finish the DIY projects that you’ve started or the novel you dream of writing
  • Business development and planning – working on, not in your business

Don’t leave the things that are important to you to be slotted in ‘when you get time’ as we’ve already seen this won’t happen, as tasks usually expand to fill the time available to do them. You will manage to fit the stuff you NEED to do into the remaining time, as you will prioritise, delegate or decide that it wasn’t really needed to be done anyway.


But how do I do this without everyone hating me?

Just say no. Easier said than done? I used to think so – but I’ve increasingly found that just being firm but polite works wonders. Don’t spend time doing things that you really don’t want to do, or with people you don’t want to spend time with – there is no rule to say that you have to accept every invitation that you receive.

The key thing is not leaving the other person hanging on for a response or be ambiguous. If you get invited to an event that you have no intention of ever attending – don’t say “maybe, I’ll have to check my diary” if this will leave them pestering you for a response, for you to later say that your goldfish has a vet appointment and that you will need to decline.

Be direct and clear, although there is no need to be rude or hurtful.

“I need someone to help at the PTA on Friday” – I’d love to help, but I have something else planned that day.

“If you’re in town next week, we could meet for a coffee” – I’m afraid I’m fully packed out next week, but have fun.

Sometimes it might just be that accepting an invitation could have a knock-on consequence for your family – on Saturday mornings my son has both karate and swimming, which means we usually decline birthday party invitations for Saturday afternoons. In my world I need to balance dealing with the grumps of an overtired 6 year old on the Sunday against the need for him to go to the party. I am simply not prepared to ruin the one day we can spend together as a family for him spending 2 hours charging around soft play with someone he doesn’t really like anyway.


So now it is up to you – your life your rules – and you are important!

And before you say that you are too busy to take time out, your family won’t co-operate or what ever excuse comes to mind, just remember this quote from Jim Rohn:

“If you really want something you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an excuse”.

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