11 things to do for yourself when you have 20 minutes of free time

I am a mother of 2 and working full-time, leading a very consuming but passionate career. I love the hustle and bustle so 90% of the time, I feel super happy in my life.

And then I have these moments when  I suddenly feel drained and realize I need to take a bit of time for myself. Some time for something fun and/or restorative.

My husband and I realized that we had a particular constraint, shared with all the parents of the planet : we have little free time and, when we do, it is usually short. Hence we needed to find ways to recharge our batteries in less than 20 minutes, because this is the length of time we usually get when we manage to get some free time.

Using those 20 minutes to check my Facebook or Twitter seems a waste of time, so I wanted to find other ways to relax. It has to be contained in 20 minutes and give me that peaceful, restorative productive feeling of a real break.

Here is the list of ideas that we came up with :

  1. Read a book or a magazine : An average adult book has 100,000 words. An average adult can read at a rate of 200 words by minutes. In a 20 minute session, you can expect to read 4,000 words, which mean it should take you 25 sessions to read an average book. If you manage to do two 20 minutes session per week, that means roughly 3 months to finish the whole book. In a year, you can therefore set a target or reading 4 books. That’s not so bad ! If that scares you, opt for a magazine.
  2. Take a bath : Drawing the bath can be done while you do something else so it doesn’t count as part of the 20 minutes. Put loads of scented oils, bath salts and anything you fancy and step in the hot tub ! Two tips to maximize the relaxing benefits : put some relaxing zen music and take the bath in the evening so you can jump in your PJ afterwards, which will be quicker than getting dressed. Less time to get ready = more time in aquatic bliss ! It also works with a shower of course !
  3. Do some yoga : there are tons of 15-20 minutes yoga tutorials on YouTube ! Focus on the flow and try to block any parasite thoughts and you will feel very refreshed.
  4. Do some coloring or cross-stitching : these semi-artistic activities can put you in a meditative state and do not require a long prep time. If you like it and don’t consider them a chore, cooking, cleaning or ironing can help you achieve a similar state.
  5. Call a friend or family : Note that if you end up talking solely about the children, it defeats the purpose of a break from them. Your parents are probably not the best candidates for this. Instead, pick a friend that you share an interest or a hobby with. Also, use your commute to work if you can to catch up with friends.
  6. Do your nails or a face mask : to get that pampered feeling.
  7. Dancing or singing : no need to be an artist, you are doing this for you and not for an audience. Playing an instrument works too if you are lucky enough to have that skill.
  8. Drink a coffee or tea mindfully. Feel the hot drink pour in your body and warm up every cell. In the summer, do the same with an ice cold drink. Focusing on the sensations help block the brain from thinking rationally, which gives it a much needed break
  9. Take a power nap : 20 minutes is the optimal time anyway !
  10. Listen to a TED talk : the vast majority of them last 15-20 min
  11. Write in your journal (start one if you don’t have one yet) or in your blog : yes, I wrote this in 19 minutes 🙂

A good 20 minute me-time should achieve at least one of the following : Relaxing you, Enriching you, Energizing you.

But don’t feel too guilty if you “waste” time of Facebook – sometimes, only a bit of stalking previous boyfriends will do 🙂

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