20 Ways to Find 20 Minutes for a Daily Self-Care Routine
Do you ever tell yourself that you don’t have time for self-care? How many days in a row do you go without honoring and investing in your personal value by tending to your physical, emotional, and social health? Honestly, I used to make my to-do list my highest priority and never put myself on that list. I felt guilty when I diverted time from over-working to exercise, paint my nails, get a hair cut, pack a healthy lunch, meditate, listen to my favorite music, or maintain a suitable work wardrobe.
The Greatest Barrier to a Fulfilling Life
Today’s busy lifestyle creates an unrealistic expectation of 100% productivity. This need to “get stuff done” breeds a stubborn pattern of habits that leads straight to burnout if left unchecked. Burnout empties your well of enthusiasm for life, creativity, and energy to thrive beyond basic survival.
A mind that never rests scatters its thoughts everywhere but the present moment. Before long, taking a break causes restlessness or general unease, so you avoid it. Your mind and body slowly wear out, eventually succumbing to illness and disease.
Escalating health issues eventually force you to halt everything. If you never invested in the coping skills that forge emotional well-being, you’ll face a flood of inescapable disappointment, guilt, and anxiety. Building a strong set of resiliency habits prevents the stress crash or, at the very least, cushions your fall and enables a quicker recovery.
Self-care activities, as part of a purposeful resilience strategy, provide the fuel to generate energy, positive mood, optimal physical health, and overall life satisfaction.
Carving out extra time for one more thing feels impossible some days. Pay attention to the reality behind that mindset. You will always find time for the things that are most important to you. Make your health a daily priority, because it’s not something you can “catch up on” over the weekend. To consistently reserve at least 20 minutes in your schedule for your needs, try any of the following timesavers.
Prepare a Meal Big Enough for Leftovers
You’ll likely save yourself more than 20 minutes with this tip by getting to skip out on prepping at least one entire meal.
Eat a Pre-Packaged Salad Instead of Cooking a Meal
Otherwise known as a healthy meal in a bag, just pour and eat a pre-made salad kit. They come in family-sized bags as well. Add chopped lunchmeat, whole grape tomatoes, and carrot shreds or chips to bulk it up if desired. Dinner complete!
Use Speech-to-Text for Notes and Lists on Devices
You speak 100 to 130 words per minute versus 40 to 50 typed and 5 to 20 handwritten. Convinced of this time saver yet?
Shop for Groceries Online
Picking up your groceries curbside or arranging for delivery eliminates aisle backtracking and impulse buys. It also prevents dividing your attention between the kids and keeping track of what’s in the cart.
Use an App for Meal Planning
No more extra trips to the grocery store! Many meal planning apps automatically generate your shopping list, too. Combine this with tip #4, and you turn into a super (time)saver.
In reality, trying to work on multiple tasks at the same time takes longer to get everything done. It almost guarantees you’ll need to go back and fix mistakes, too.
Delegate One Responsibility to Someone Else
Let the kids match and fold the socks. Task your spouse with grabbing dinner on the way home. Heck! Pay the neighbor’s teenager to mow the yard this weekend while you’re at it.
Say, “No,” to the Snooze Button
Besides cutting into the best time of day for self-care, hitting the snooze button on your wake-up alarm to get a few extra minutes of sleep makes you feel more tired. It also prevents you from sleeping well at night.
Set Your Normal Alarm on Your Days Off Instead of Sleeping In
You cut your day short when you wake up later. As an added perk of getting up at the same time every day, it will be easier to fall asleep the night before your first day back to work.
Opt In for Automatic Bill Pay
Stop brain space with a list of due dates you need to remember. Don’t make online payments one at a time. You don’t need to write and mail half a dozen checks either. And forget about licking envelopes or buying stamps.
Go directly to your service provider for this complimentary service. If they don’t offer it, most banks do as part of their suite of free, online self-service options.
Put the Kids to Bed 20 Minutes Earlier
Most kids won’t notice if you start their bedtime routine a little early. No routine in place? Consider creating one to make the transition faster and easier for everyone.
Skip a Facebook or YouTube Surfing Session
Most people lose track of time and spend anywhere from 6 to 40 minutes on these apps.
Stop One Episode Short When Binge-Watching Netflix, Hulu, or Prime
How long is the average streaming service episode? You probably guessed already. It runs approximately 20 minutes.
Batch Tasks Whenever Possible
Your brain needs several minutes to adjust when you switch from one type of task to another. For example, drafting an email and making a phone call require completely different cognitive processes. Switching gears slows you down big time!
Fold and Put Away Clean Laundry When it Comes Out of the Dryer
This often cuts out ironing time altogether. You won’t find yourself sorting through disorganized piles to find the one item you need each day. Instead, you know you’ll find it in its designated place.
Ask Your Pharmacy to Mail Prescriptions
Many pharmacies offer this service nowadays, and prescription plans often include it free of charge.
Take a Break for Lunch
It sounds counterproductive, but hear me out. With a rejuvenated brain, you’ll get things done more quickly after your break. Plus, you create a window of time to use for self-care.
Take Advantage of Paid Vacation Days
Americans notoriously let employer-paid vacation days go unused. Don’t feel guilty about taking a day off to take care of yourself, especially if you get paid to do it.
Use a Password Manager
Half of Americans spend 50 minutes a month resetting forgotten passwords. Get locked out of an account and the time wasted skyrockets. If this sounds like you, a password manager will make your life so much safer and easier! These services sync across multiple devices and typically offer a free plan.
Make Deposits through Online Banking Services
Save a trip to the bank. Enroll in direct deposit for paychecks or deposit checks using your online banking app.
What to Do with the Time You Set Aside for a Self-Care Routine
Dedicate the extra 20 minutes you recover from the list above to stress-proof your life. Create a customized self-care plan that builds resilience and recharges your energy whenever you need a boost throughout the day. Get started with the ideas in this free kit, tailored to introverts with a passion for serving others:
I’m a music therapist, dog mom, nature enthusiast, business owner, introvert, sleep and stress management coach, and research lover. My mission is to help you remove stress as a barrier to better health, greater happiness, and more meaningful connections with the people and passions that make life exciting.