Just Say no…finding the pleasure in your leisure time

Rosanna Machado | September 3, 2020


In 2017, I prided myself on saying yes to everything! Yes to friends, yes to helping people out, yes to meetings, yes to any opportunity that came my way. I came out of the year mentally and physically exhausted and not necessarily closer to where I wanted to be. And it took that year for me to reassess things and have a healthier approach to the choices I have and the decisions that I make. It was liberating to realise that I did have a choice. I read that every good no makes room for a better yes – one that adds value and builds relationships. And when I did this, amazingly I seemed to fit more into my life as I was more mindful about how to spend my time.

Many people I talk to tell me they don’t have time for hobbies and their self-care routine gets neglected which has become even trickier with working from home and the blurring of work and home life. Though the average person seems to find 3 hr 15 min a day to spend on their phone! And yet without looking after yourself, your work and relationships will suffer.  So how can you successfully prioritise this?

  • Ask yourself, what do I need to do on a daily / weekly / monthly basis to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit? Your self-care routine is essential for your own wellbeing. Find things in line with your values so that you want to do them rather than feel an obligation to do them
  • Think about how to fit it into your schedule? Where might you be able to stack the habit on top of an existing one? Where do you need flexibility? Start small
  • What are your other goals or hobbies that you’d like to do? What would you like to get out of the activity – meeting new people, getting into flow? Think about what you’d love to do rather than what you have to do?
  • Schedule your me-time in your diary as you would any other social engagements
  • Be mindful about pockets of time during the day, if you are waiting for a friend, you could use that time to meditate or read a book rather than getting your phone out
  • When a social engagement comes in, consider it holistically. I used to check my diary and see if I was free and if so, accept. Now I consider my whole week – my goals and priorities for the week, whether I have a lot of work on, what time I need for myself, whether this is in line with how I’d like to spend my time
  • If you are saying no, always be respectful but remember that in many instances, you don’t need to justify your response. I used to spend a long time crafting a long message to a vague acquaintance about why I couldn’t make something when a polite, I’m sorry I’m not free would have been sufficient
  • If like me you love a bit of spontaneity, build some buffer into your schedule
  • What lockdown has taught us is that we can chat in a variety of ways so if you are not up to meeting someone, think about connecting with them in a different way that will work for you

Life has got busier, the choices we have can be over-whelming, so take the time to be clear on what you’d like to achieve and respectfully say no to things that aren’t in line with that [cue the Grange Hill rap].