real life

Easy ways to reclaim time for yourself during the work day.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Instant Scratch-Its

Time. We can’t believe how fast it goes. 2016 already seems like an eternity ago.

According to data collected by Mamamia, 60 per cent of women feel like they’re in some sort of race. That they have less than one hour of time that is solely their own, each day.

There is no ‘me’ time in between finding kids’ school socks and organising the morning commute and meeting professional deadlines for clients and bosses. All of a sudden, you realise you haven’t read a book or taken a breath or run around the block in weeks. Months, maybe.

How can we change this?

What can we do to reclaim a little bit of time – the smallest moments, even – back into our day?

Podcasts.

Podcasts are growing in popularity at an unbelievable rate. According to Made by Fairfax, 1.2 million Australians have listened to a podcast in the last 12 months. Mega sites such as The New York Times and Huffington Post have launched podcasts. Mamamia’s own podcast network has grown by 220 per cent since 2015.

All of a sudden, people are talking about This American Life or You Must Remember This or My Dad Wrote a Porno (of all things) in the lunch room. Over their work desks. On the way to the train station.

"Podcasts are growing in popularity at an unbelievable rate." Image: iStock.

It took me a while to understand why. The thought of having strange voices in my ears didn't appeal to me at first, sometimes you just don't want to listen anymore. But, soon, (admittedly, after acquainting myself with the Hamish & Andy podcast) I started to understand the trend.

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This is a way to reclaim some 'me' time. Just you, walking to work, catching the bus, driving in traffic, cooking dinner and, at the same time, tuning into something else entirely.

It's a form of escape. Listening to a podcast is an opportunity to let your thoughts roam free and explore a topic that is completely removed from what you're making for dinner, or if there'll be enough leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

In doing this, you are finding 'me' time. Just you and your headphones and the strangers with the microphones. You're free to explore, and podcasts are the perfect tool to make your 'me' time happen.

A book in your lunch break.

If you're still not convinced about the voices in your ears, why not try and carve a 20 minute lunch break each day?

Instead of sitting in the stairwell scrolling through social media (#nojudgement. We all do it.) The thumb scroll is a time vacuum none of us can escape), why not go and sit in the park, or at a cafe, and read a book?

It will give you a dose of quiet and provide a disconnection from the bustle.

"Why not go and sit in the park, or at a cafe, and read a book?" Image: iStock.

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Looking at words on a page instead of a computer screen, thinking about characters who aren't your boss or your coworker or your eldest daughter's teacher, will re-charge your batteries in the middle of the day.

Plus, in a professional world where lunch breaks are endangered, and the habit of eating at your desk is oh-so-easy to fall into, a good book hidden in your handbag is more likely to compel you to do exactly what you're meant to do - get out of the office. Take a breath. Find some 'me' time between meetings.

Exercise.

We know that exercise works wonders when it comes to mental health. It's been linked to improvements in depression, anxiety, ADHD. It relieves stress, improves memory, enhances quality of sleep.

Have you heard a better excuse for 'me' time? (And we haven't even mentioned the physical benefits.)

Making time for yourself to run along the beach, take a dance class, swim in the ocean, does more than improve your fitness levels or strengthen your arteries. It gives you time to yourself - and that, right there, is priceless.

"Exercise relieves stress, improves memory, enhances quality of sleep." Image: iStock.

Exercise helps calm the voices in you head (not podcast-related) and is a slice of time where the only person you have to worry about is yourself. How you might improve the next yoga pose, how you might beat the clock over the next kilometre.

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If you're struggling to find motivation to exercise, consider signing up to a gym where you have to book into a class, and you're charged the payment even if you don't show up. That way you're buying yourself 'me' time. It's buying its way into your priorities.

Taking 20 minutes each day to just listen to yourself, be with yourself, explore your own thoughts and ideas, can help you better engage with the rest of the world. It can give you the space and freedom for more patience, more kindness, to be a better worker or partner or responsible-adult-who-cooks-enough-for-leftovers. Whether it's through podcasts, or reading, or exercise, or something else entirely, no one can argue with those benefits.

What do you do to reclaim a little bit of time back into your day?

Walking tracks are great for podcasts too. Here are some of our favourites:

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This post was written thanks to our brand partner Instant Scratch-Its.