Sunday, August 10, 2008

Making time...

This week I've been surprised and delighted to discover an extra hour and a half in my days.  After moving my office from the banks of the Capilano River on Vancouver's North Shore to the sunny den on the south side of my own home, I am no longer fighting traffic twice a day, driving to and from work.  What a gift to find all that time! 

Unfortunately, as family caregivers and helping professionals looking for self care time, it is more likely that we will have to carve it out than that we will trip over it unexpectedly.  At a recent workshop, participants brainstormed ways of reclaiming time for themselves and a number of their suggestions centered on that indispensable, but frequently annoying instrument, the telephone.  Some of their suggestions included:

*  Unplugging the phone or turning it off for specific periods of time every day.  (After 
     telling your family and friends!)

*  Using an answering machine or call display to screen calls so they can be answered
     at a more convenient time.

*  Giving your cell phone number to a circumscribed number of people and asking
     them to use it for emergencies only.  (After all, how many things are so important 
     that they can't wait an hour or two?)

*  During a health crisis or after surgery, leaving a daily update on your voicemail
     so loved ones can call in to hear how "the patient" is doing without disturbing you.

Take a moment to think about your own relationship to the ubiquitous telephone.  Is it eating your self care time?  Might there be a creative way of reclaiming some of that time for yourself?

The workshop participants came up with some other great ideas for reclaiming time:

*  Becoming conscious about TV time.  Making mindful choices about what you want
     to watch then turning off the TV.

*  Doing as much shopping as possible through catalogues or online.  Asking your 
     grocery store about home delivery.  Making a list before you go shopping and 
     sticking to it.

*  Using a day planner to manage your time.  Writing down all your appointments
     and responsibilities then coding them with colours or letters to indicate what 
     must be done today, what should be done today but could wait til tomorrow, 
     and what could wait for another few days.

*  At the beginning of each week, looking ahead to block out some self care time 
    every day, whether it is a "pause that refreshes" or an hour's brisk walk or an 
    afternoon's massage and pedicure.

*  Sharing responsibilities with others.  Carpooling for children's activities.  Having 
    a "fill the freezer" morning with friends - cook together in bulk  then share the food to 
      make frozen dinners for busy nights.
This is just the briefest of time-saving lists from one workshop.  Try making a "possibilities" list of your own and choosing one thing upon which to take action this week.  Let us know about your successes! 



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