Tiny Tips Tuesday: Use A Timer to Take Better Care of Yourself

Dear Friend,

Several people have asked me recently about how I find time for things I want to do like self-care when there are so many things in life that must be done even if I don’t want to. {I’m looking at you, dishes!}

I love this question because it is something I have really struggled with over the years, especially when things aren’t going well and I tend to slip into very black and white/ all or nothing thinking patterns. The last few years have been working on making self-care a priority and I’ll share with you some of my tips for getting in some self-care every day.

First a story.

During yoga teacher training all of us trainees were up to our eyeballs with homework: reading and writing assignments, 40 required studio practices, building a new home yoga practice, starting a new meditation practice in addition to the jobs that paid our bills and our families and social lives.

Needless to say, a lot of us *I* spent a good amount of time complaining about our lack of time to pretty much anyone who would listen –  including our teacher, Michelle.

Apparently she heard about the homework A LOT and in a moment of frustration (and utter brilliance) she asked us to consider if we might making the homework worse by avoiding and complaining and procrastinating and telling ourselves about our lack of time. And maybe if we stopped doing that we’d have plenty of time to actually get our work done.

Ouch.

And yet, probably some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

Once I removed the complaining time, the avoiding time and the storytelling about my lack of time: BOOM! Suddenly homework didn’t actually take that long.

Apply lesson to other areas of my life.

I absolutely loathe doing dishes and will pretty much avoid them at all costs because it just takes so long to do.

Or does it?

I timed myself. Guess how long it took to unload and reload the dishwasher… less than FIVE minutes.

I no longer avoid doing the dishes.

This summer I received a beautiful necklace from my friend Melissa from compliment and it was tangled up in the box when it arrived. Seriously sad panda.

Then I remembered my timer technique. In my enthusiasm for problem solving I planned to spend 15 minutes on the necklace each day until it was untangled.

I got out the necklace, the timer, hit go and TWO MINUTES LATER it was untangled.

Did I mention how much time I had wasted worrying about the knots in this necklace? All I really needed to do was get started.

And that’s how I have been handling all the unpleasant tasks in my life – by using a timer I can see exactly how long something takes. Or if that way doesn’t sound appealing in a situation, I give myself a set amount of time and see if I can race through the unpleasant task. Or I simply split the task into 10 to 15 minute increments and do them in several sessions until it is completed.

The point being: Get started and it will probably take less time than you think.

One other tip I want to share that has been pretty life-changing is the Pomodoro Method/Technique. I use it when I have thinking work to do and I want to avoid the procrastination traps I can sometimes fall into (I’m looking at you social media) when I am not sure where to start or how I am going to tackle a project.

What does this have to do with self-care you ask?

self care timer.jpg

I used to think self-care took a lot of time or it wasn’t worth doing. For instance, if I wasn’t able to go to a 90 minute yoga class, then no yoga for me that day. Or if I couldn’t get in for a massage with my massage therapist, then no massage for me.

Are you seeing a pattern? A little black and white and all or nothing.

So I started applying the timer technique to pleasant tasks as well.

Five minutes of legs up the wall feels way better than none.

Ten minutes of foot massage feels way better than none.

Fifteen minutes in the hot bath feels way better than none.

Again, seeing a pattern?

I’ve learned that the unpleasant tasks usually take WAY less time than I think they will and that pleasant tasks in short spurts can be quite beneficial especially when done a bunch of days in a row.

I have also found that by doing a little bit of self-care each day helps me build my self-care slash nurture muscle better than a big session once in a while.

What are your tips and tricks for building self-care into your daily life?

I would love to hear from you. Please share how you build self-care into your life.

With lots of self-kindness and love,

Tami

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More links for self-care ideas:

10 Ways to Practice Self-Care

Top Five Self-Care Tips from Melissa at compliment.

Top Five Self-Care Tips from Sarah at Yes and Yes.

10 Self-Care Ideas That Take 10 Minutes or Less

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