Earlier Self Care Saturday posts have focused upon having a space of your own, scheduling yourself on your calendar, and protecting your time. Today I want to address having unscheduled time in your life, a concept I had almost forgotten about.
For many years, I presented a section of employee orientation to new hospice employees where I discussed how the work was difficult and that it was necessary to establish self care techniques. One suggestion I had was to consider randomly scheduling a day off each quarter of the year. These days would be in addition to planned vacations but would be time where nothing specific was planned. I encouraged employees to use this time as the day they may sleep late or sit in their backyard. During my time at hospice, I regularly practiced what I suggested by planning long weekends. I utilized those days to do things such as wander around local shops I wanted to go to but didn’t typically have the time to do. Other activities included afternoons catching up on magazines or finally finishing a project.
Sadly, once I became a contract worker, I neglected unscheduled time. I fell into the trap that I needed to be doing something at all times in order to advance my career.
I revisited the thought of unscheduled time during the past spring semester when a student shared she did not like to plan specific self care activities. She reported that she liked to schedule a block of time where she could decide what she wanted or would like to do. During the semester, she shared she used these blocks of time to cook, take walks, call a family member, read a magazine and sleep. She benefited as much from not scheduling her self care activities as those who planned time for exercise or time with friends.
Unscheduled time can come in the form of a whole day off of work or a few hours every few days.
Most everyone has such a busy schedule that having a section of unscheduled time can feel unproductive. We’ve become conditioned that having a full calendar equals a full life. However, a full calendar can equal being overworked and disconnected from others and oneself.
Today I want to encourage you to consider adding unscheduled time to your life. Perhaps it will be a few hours on a weekend afternoon or you plan a few hours after work. Simply block out the time and decide what you would like to do when the time comes. Try to not utilize the time to run errands or check off the to do list.
Do you think you can benefit from unscheduled time in your life?
Would it be beneficial as a self care practice? Please let me know if you try the practice.