How to Make Time for Yourself Even When it Seems Impossible

How often does your brain offer you the thought, “I don’t have time to slow down right now.”

Or “I’ll rest after I complete [insert astronomically long list of tasks here].

Or “Once I take care of everyone else, then I’ll try to squeeze in some time.

Pretty often, right?

Don’t worry, you’re in good company. My brain loves those sneaky thoughts, too.

But I also know that they aren’t actually serving us.

In fact, they’re keeping us on the hamster wheel of doing while denying us what we truly deserve; rest, play, and time for yourself to be.

And on episode 148 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I’m sharing an experience I had this weekend that helped me further recognize this truth and the lessons I learned from it.

So if you find yourself constantly doing without resting on the other side, then I invite you to tune into the episode and learn my four-step process to get yourself off the hamster wheel and making more time for yourself each day.

You can listen to the episode above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:   

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

In This Episode, You Will Discover… 

  • Why you’re struggling to make time for yourself
  • How to troubleshoot these reasons
  • One powerful question to help you find what’s best for you in each moment

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Episode #148: how to make time for yourself even when it seems impossible (Transcript)

Hello everybody. How are you? I am both melting and feeling a little bit impulsive today. I’m melting because it’s 96 degrees outside. And impulsive because I am definitely stepping outside of my normal schedule today.

It is Sunday afternoon as I record this podcast, which is not usually my style; I tend to record my podcast during the week. And also, this is the Sunday before the episode comes out on Monday… meaning tomorrow… in fact, in about 5 or 6 hours from now. Again, this is also not usually my style since I try to work a couple of weeks in advance. And in fact, I decided to move back a couple of episodes that I already had scheduled to go because, like I said, I’m feeling a little bit impulsive.

And I’ll also add that it’s an impulsive that I like; I was inspired today by some experiences that I’ve had over this weekend, and I wanted to pop on and record an episode to share this experience and also the big takeaways that I got from it in case it’s one that your brain wants to hear today, too.

So over the last few weeks, I had been getting different sales emails and reminders from a meditation teacher that I follow about joining an online weekend retreat. It was a three-day meditation retreat that I was very interested in joining, and I kept checking it out, but I also kept going back and forth on it. I wasn’t sure if I could fit it in my schedule. I didn’t know if I had time to do it.

I knew I wanted to do the retreat. I’ve been following his work for a while, I really like his style, and he’s offered these weekend retreats several times in the past that I’d thought about joining. But my brain always found some reason why it wasn’t a good time.

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So this week, I kept opening his emails and clicking through the link to look at the itinerary, and I was constantly going back and forth, about to sign up, and then my brain would talk me out of it. My brain would offer thoughts like, “but you’ve never done one of these retreats before, so how do you know if you’ll even like it. What if you don’t like it at all?”

And the big, most compelling argument- as it usually is – was, “this is such a huge time commitment! It’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There are six 1 1/2 sessions plus three or four other one-hour sessions. This is a lot of time. And that is a whole lot of time meditating. I don’t have time for this. I should really be spending my time in a different way. I have other things I need to do.”

Does your brain ever do this? It finds one reason after another and piles it on top of one another of why you can’t or shouldn’t do something. My brain loves to do this whenever I think about doing something new or doing something that’s just for me – that’s just for fun without any other purpose than that. My brain often has thoughts about this.

But as I watch my brain offer this ticker tape of thoughts, I had this quieter, more solid thought that seemed to override the chatter of time scarcity, which was, “if you’re feeling this much resistance to slowing down, it’s probably the most important thing you could do right now.”

If you’re feeling this much resistance to slowing down, it’s probably the most important thing you could do right now.

-Your brain

“If you’re feeling this much resistance to slowing down, to making time for you, for resting or relaxing, it’s probably the most important thing you could do for yourself right now.” Even if it’s uncomfortable. Even if you don’t know what to expect. Even if the toddler brain throws a tantrum convinced that it should be doing something “more productive.” If I’m feeling this much resistance to slowing down, it’s probably the best thing I could possibly do for myself. And so, I leaned into that, and I signed up for the retreat.

And that was just the beginning of the uncomfortable chatter from my brain. We had the opening session on Friday night, which was easy to get my brain on board. I had finished up with work. I had signed up for the retreat earlier that day. I was excited to get started.

And the session was great… until the teacher announced he was going to put us into breakout rooms. And as an introvert in a zoom room of over 150 people – in her pajamas, because it was Friday night and that’s how I live it up – going into breakout rooms with four other random strangers made my brain freak out. And I noticed my brain offering thoughts like, “just leave the session now. Nobody will know. There’s over 150 people here, it’s not a problem if you leave. It’s toward the end anyway. Call it a night and join again tomorrow morning. No problem.”

And I could have done that. I could have easily left, and it wouldn’t have been a problem. And there are times when I might have done that. But I decided to continue leaning into the resistance. I knew I was safe. I knew I wasn’t going into such an unbearably uncomfortable situation that I wouldn’t be able to navigate it. And so, I reminded myself, “if I’m feeling this much resistance to being vulnerable and connecting with people I don’t know while in my hoodie and sweat pants, it’s probably happening for me. So am I willing to lean into this discomfort to see how it helps me grow?

And I was. And it did. It was a powerful time to meet new people I will likely never speak with again. And to hear their experiences and share my own reflections. It turned out to be an opportunity to create connection, which is one of my top values. And it was pretty special. So I leaned into the discomfort and experienced both growth and connection in return. Not a bad exchange.

And then, throughout the entire weekend, with each of the morning, afternoon, and evening sessions, I supported myself through a very similar process. I would notice the resistance. I would notice my brain thinking, there’s so much other stuff that needs to get done. You don’t have time for this right now. My mind would race. The list of “important things” that I “needed” to do had a growing tally in my mind. And I would take some slow breaths. I would join the call. And I’d settle in. And after each of the sessions, I felt increasingly more grounded, present, and clear. And I felt so much more aligned with myself and what I needed.

Woman meditating.

And the fascinating thing is that I don’t think this groundedness and clarity and sense of connection to myself was because of the act of meditation specifically. I don’t think it was just having the quiet space for my brain that helped me get to this state – though I’m sure that helped. But I think it would have been a similar experience if it was a weekend retreat for pottery or something. I think the real impact for me this weekend, was that I showed my brain that there is time to do these things. There is time to focus on fun activities that I want to do. There is time to pursue interests and explore the self-development that lights me up and piques my curiosity.

And it showed me how – despite my toddler brain freaking out thinking that I should be doing something more productive, or impactful, and not be so lazy – I could notice and allow that resistance in my body. I could notice and allow the anxiety to spin around in my chest. And I could also recognize those thoughts for what they are. They’re just thoughts. They’re not facts. They’re not true. It’s just my toddler brain throwing a fit because I’m asking it to do something that’s outside of my comfort zone. I’m asking it to do something unfamiliar.

And for those of you who are newer to my work, the toddler brain is what I refer to as the older more primal part of our brain that has helped us survive for thousands and thousands of years. The toddler brain – or the older part of our brain is literally wired to do three things. Seek pleasure, avoid pain, and conserve energy. And when we ask our brain to do something new, it demands energy, because it has to think about something new and different.

And this can seem dangerous… Even if – in my case – it literally meant sitting and meditating for several 1 ½ hour sessions throughout the weekend rather than running errands and doing work and keeping busy. It doesn’t make intellectual sense; the executive brain – our prefrontal cortex – questions the logic. But when the toddler brain is the one that’s running the show and feeling afraid, it can convince us pretty easily to return to what’s safe and familiar.

And in my case, the thoughts that my brain kept offering were “you should really be doing something more productive. You’re going to sit here for hours on end? Seriously? You do not have time for this right now.”

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And it was that last sentence that really caught my attention. “You do not have time for this right now.” That was the sneaky thought. For my Alfred Hitchcock fans – this was the MacGuffin. It was the thought that seemed like an important, necessary piece of information but is actually quite irrelevant and insignificant.

And it’s a thought that I have worked to identify because it’s a story that I like to tell myself all the time. Regardless of what’s going on, my brain loves to think, you don’t have time for this right now. There’s not enough time for that. And when I’m not on to myself. When I’m not tuning into the drama that’s happening in my brain, and the toddler brain has taken over the show. That thought tricks me into believing that I really don’t have time. And so the toddler brain gets its way and it sticks with what’s familiar and safe.

And as I went to sign up for the retreat, and my brain kept thinking different versions of the thought, you don’t have time for this right now. You don’t have time to do this. That’s when I decided to test out my theory of the Macguffin. Decided to test out whether my brain was just being a brain. I had a sneaking suspicion that it was. I had a sneaking suspicion that had just wanted me to stick with what’s familiar, stay busy, stay productive. It didn’t want me to slow down or rest.

And I know that sounds ridiculous. But I also have a feeling that some of you might be able to relate. I have a feeling that some of you also feel like you’re driven by a motor and have a hard time slowing down. And your specific story – your Macguffin – might sound different. It might not be the thought, “I don’t have time for this right now.” But my guess is that some of you have some track that plays on repeat.

Step 1: Identify Your Specific Reasons

And in fact, that is the first step I want to offer you today. I invite you to start identifying your version of the thought, “I don’t have time for this,” when in reality, part of you knows it could be one of the most impactful things you could possibly do for yourself. Again, as I mentioned earlier in the episode, I kept thinking to myself, “If you’re feeling this much resistance to slowing down, then it’s probably the most important thing you could do for yourself right now.”

So what is your version of the story “I don’t have time for this?” There are so many different versions that I’ve heard from people over the years. It might be a slight variation on I don’t have time for this. Maybe your brain offers, “I need to do this stuff first. I need to finish my to-do list first, then I can do XYZ. Then I can read that book. Then I can call that friend. Then I can make time for me.”

Or I’ll look into this after I make sure the kids have all of their playdates arranged and I’ve volunteered at their school for the end of the year events. I’ll look into taking that weekly yoga class after I get all of those other things for everyone else taken care of first.

Maybe rather than “I don’t have time for that,” it’s “I can’t spend money on myself like that.” I can’t spend money on a massage, on dinner out, on a vacation. For others, sure. But I can’t spend that on myself.

And I want to acknowledge that I’m saying this from a place of privilege. I absolutely understand that there are times when one might not be able to spend money on a massage or dinner with friends. There are times when we literally don’t have the time to go on vacation. This is absolutely true. But I also know that there are times when it’s not true. And instead, it is the toddler brain pulling us back from leaning into what we want and deserve.

I think this is especially true for ADHD brains. We have a lot of qualifiers and rules for ourselves. “Once I finally get my act together.” “Once I finally get caught up, then I’ll be able to…” “I can slow down and rest once I’ve finished everything on my brilliant ideas list.” But then we never stop adding things to our brilliant ideas list, because we are idea machines. And so we get into this cycle, telling ourselves, I’ll slow down or rest or play once I finish this list, as we continue adding ideas faster than we can get them off.

So what are your stories? What is your Macguffin? What are the sneaky thoughts that trick you into putting yourself on the back burner?

Step 2: When Does This Come Up The Most?

And the second question takes this concept further. What activities, or in what situations, do you notice this story coming up the most for you? Is it around resting or doing something that’s “not productive” like it is for me? Again, my brain desperately wanted me to believe, “I don’t have time to slow down and rest, certainly not for an entire weekend, and certainly not sitting there doing nothing with my eyes closed for hours on end.”

Maybe it’s around crafting or creating. I was on a call with one of my clients this past Friday. She is someone who loves making and creating things and doing things with her hands. And she’d been talking about wanting to do that more often. And on Friday, she shared with me these beautiful paper flowers that she crafted – that she made time to create. And as she showed me the intricacies of each individual flower and talked with me about how she created pockets of time throughout her busy days to immerse herself in designing these pieces, her entire face lit up. You could tell that she absolutely delighted in this experience. It was so inspiring to see. And it was such a powerful reminder of how important it is to lean into these passions that really fill us up.

What about for you? Maybe it’s around making time for journaling or self-coaching regularly. Maybe it’s around making time to read in the afternoon or the evening. Maybe it’s taking a language class on Thursday nights, but that means you won’t be home to help get dinner ready. It could be going out with friends for dinner each week or getting enough sleep each night.

I invite you to identify what that story is, and where you find yourself telling it most often. This is really important. It’s important because you are important. And what matters to you is important. You deserve that experience.

Step 3: Question Your Reasons

And once you’ve identified that thought, I invite you to take step three and get really curious here. I invite you to be a detective in this story your brain’s offering. And ask yourself, is this thought even true?

For example, for me with the retreat, are these thoughts true? Is it true that I don’t have time for this? No, it wasn’t. Is it true that it is lazy to make time for this? No, it’s not. Is it true that I should be being more productive? No. It’s not. How I choose to spend my time as my own.

Plus, how is the opposite true? How is it true that I do have time? Well, with it being the weekend, I actually have more time to dedicate these longer stretches throughout each of the days for meditation. And how is it true that it’s neither lazy nor unproductive? Well, in fact, doing this retreat was incredibly productive in that it helped me learn so much more about myself and my beliefs about time and rest. It helped me learn more about leaning into the discomfort and experiencing true growth on the other side. In fact, it’s possible that this was the very best way that I could have used my time this weekend.

I usually like to take this questioning one step further, too, and I ask myself, “would I tell my best friend or a client, you don’t have time for this.” you don’t have time 2 experience this retreat. You don’t have time to rest period you don’t have time to read. You don’t have time to craft. You should be more productive. No. Of course not. There’s not a flicker of doubt in my mind. And if the same is true for you, then I invite you to remember that you deserve the same treatment and love and support and compassion as you give others.

Step 4: Carve out Time This Week

And since you’re listening to this podcast, and I know this community pretty well now with almost 150 episodes deep, I think we could all do with a bit more self-care and personal time in whatever way that looks for you. In fact, I challenge you to make this your Step 4 and carve out that time this week. Schedule dates for the vacation that you want to take. Book the massage. Sign up for the class. Block out time in your calendar for reading or journaling or talking with your friend over coffee. Set aside that time for yourself. Because you deserve it.

And if one of the things you’ve been considering for yourself is joining We’re Busy Being Awesome, but your brain is offering thoughts like, “I don’t have time. The summer is too unpredictable. I should probably wait until the kids go back to school and join in the fall” I want to again pose the question, what if that’s not true? 

In fact, what if the opposite is true, and this is the best possible time for you to dive in with a small, supportive community to meet each week for an hour to connect, to bring you back to center. To provide that grounded stability and clarity in your life each week throughout the summer months as you learn the strategies that work best for your brain. As you learn how to create acceptance for yourself and your ADHD. As you learn the best approaches for your brain to plan out your schedule, so there’s time for play and rest while also getting the work done. As you learn how to navigate that urge to procrastinate and instead take action on the things you want to complete. And as you learn how to follow all the way through to completion and check those things off your list. What if right now is the best time to lean into that growth edge and take this work deeper?

And also, because time blindness is a very real; if you genuinely aren’t sure if you have the time in your schedule, that’s not a problem. We can talk through it. When you fill out the enrollment form at, you can sign up for a quick zoom call with me. And we can talk through any questions and consider your schedule to make sure you have the time you want to put into the group.

But seriously. How fun would it be to use these next four months to really dive in with this incredible group of 10-12 other busy awesome humans with ADHD and ADHD tendencies and learn how to work with your brain so you can enter the fall season ready to go?

If you are listening to this in real-time, the June cohort begins next week at the beginning of the month. There are currently two or three open spots for the Thursday afternoon group, which runs from 2:00 to 3:00 o’clock Eastern Time. And depending on people’s availability, we might also add a second group on Wednesday or Thursday morning. And on the form, you have space to select the times that work best for your schedule. So, if this feels like the right time for you. If you have that solid thought overriding the chatter that this is your time, then I invite you to lean into it. Because I would love to have you in there.

And for everyone listening, I invite you to spend time this week thinking about these three questions.

Number 1: what are those sneaky stories my brain tells me? What is my version of “I don’t have time for that.” or “I’ll do that after I finish XYZ.”

Number 2: when do I tell myself this story most often? What are the things I’m continually putting off for myself?

Number 3: Is this thought even true? Can I be sure it’s true? How might the opposite be true? Really question those beliefs. Is there truth behind them? Or is this a Macguffin? Is it a red herring that your toddler brain is using to trick you into sticking with what’s familiar and safe? If it’s the latter, then you get bonus points in moving to number four.

Number 4: Schedule time for that thing you want to do. Because you deserve it.

Want To Join Our Group Coaching Program?!

I will be opening the doors for the next cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome in a couple of weeks!

Add your name to the waitlist so you’ll be the first to know about program dates and times, plus how you can sign up if it’s a great fit for you.

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