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Making Time for What You Want to Do: How to Set up Intentional Time to Focus on Your Goals.

Updated: Feb 29

Tori McElwain from The Quilt Patch by Tori

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How to set up an intentional time to focus on your goals, whether your "Me Time" is for sewing, journaling, creating, learning, exercising, or any intentional task, these 5 things can help you be deliberate and focus on what you want to achieve most.

As a young kid, I was fortunate enough to go camping. It was a time filled to the brim with activities: swimming, hiking, horseback riding, mess hall eating/cleaning, crafting, campfire songs, and s'mores, back to back to back. It was an exciting 2-3 days, but exhausting. In between some of the most tiring activities the counselors scheduled an hour of "Me Time."

This was a quiet time where you could shower, write home, clean up your site/bed area, socialize with campers, and do whatever you needed to do to calm and refocus. It was usually in the afternoon before dinner and quickly became my favorite time of day! An hour to do whatever I wanted?? No structure? What??

As an adult, my days are full of the same level of activity - chores, tasks, meals, playtime with kids, meetings, errands, back to back to back. "Me Time" feels non-existent, but needed. Before the term "self-care" became a thing, I would work until I was about to burst and tell my husband I need Me Time.

My Me Time now can look different depending on the season of life I am in. It's unstructured when I just need silence. Other times I create a very structured plan. It all depends on what you're focusing on during your Me Time.

Let's get focused and intentional with Me Time.

1. Make Time

To be blunt, you cannot create time for yourself, your future, and your health unless you make the time. Plan it. Tell key people about it, especially those that will assist you and encourage you.

Then stick to it. Protect that time.

"Me time" can look like an hour a day after the kids go to bed or before they wake up in the morning. It could be 4 hours on a weekend morning when you agree to switch babysitting duties with a neighbor, sister, brother, or friend.

It could be a Thursday evening - where Thursdays are your "do not disturb" days. Maybe you take an extra long lunch on Fridays or block out Monday mornings. Make the time, then protect it. Block it out in your calendar, and tell your assistant, your partner, and even your kids that you will be unreachable (or just busy) during that time.

Then and here's the toughest part. Enforce it.

Do not answer the phone, texts, or emails. Lock the door to the closet or office. Separate yourself, so that you can focus and come back as a better you (more suggestions below). As a mom and a recovering people pleaser, I know how hard this can be. But if you've read this far, I'm guessing you need this focus time. So enforce it!

"Nothing will work unless you do" - Maya Angelou

If you're hesitant, do what fills you up during this time and it will be easier to plan and stick to it. You can't pour from an empty cup.

2. What to do with "Me Time"

Here are a few ideas:

  • Create - sew, paint, draw, build, write, color, cook, decorate

  • Learn something new

  • Read for fun or education

  • Rest - meditate, nap, sit, practice yoga

  • Exercise

  • Stretch

  • Visit a park, museum, art gallery

  • Listen - to music, podcast, audiobook, white noise, and yourself (thinking without distraction)

  • Start a business, a side hustle, a nonprofit

  • Plan for the long term - a future, a vacation, a financial plan, investment ideas, etc.

  • Talk - to a sister, friend, therapist, or yourself

Try one or try them all and see what resonates with you. What fills you up or excites you? Mix it up and see if a combo leaves you feeling more refreshed and capable of taking on your day-to-day.

Then create a goal or objective, or several, for your Me Time.

This can be as formal as you'd like it to be. Just state it to yourself or create measurable objectives.

Your goal or objective for this time should fit into 1 sentence. It should be clear, concise, and measurable with a yes or no.

Example 1: I want to learn to sew by taking "X" course and making a shirt! Did you do it? Yes or no? This answer is clear and tangible.

Example 2: I want to get stronger by practicing yoga 2x per week and taking a daily walk. I added in the number of times a week to make this a measurable objective. After the week is done check in with yourself. Did you do it? Yes or no? How can you get there next week?

So, as I mentioned above, this can be formal (write it out!) or informal (keep it in your mind). Writing down a goal or objective can be very powerful, but so can keeping that goal or objective to yourself. Whichever motivates you to stick to your Me Time is the route I would suggest you go.

One last thing: be gentle with yourself. You're human. If you don't make your objective or hit your goal every time or in a perfect way - it's OKAY. Adjust to make the goal enjoyable.

3. If needed, Plan It Out

I am a strategist. It's part of what I love to do.

Some things you might want to try for your Me Time may need more planning than just a single objective. My favorite strategy to suggest for others who have multiple steps in a project or process is similar to an ongoing list.

If you need assistance in planning here are 3 steps to get you started:

Step 1: If you already have an idea in mind. You can skip this one. If you have no idea what you would use your Me Time to do, I suggest you make a list. A long one. List everything (and I mean everything!) you'd want to do.

Step 2: Then go back and circle 1-3 things that you can realistically do or try with the time frame that excites you the most (go with your gut!) and make your objective(s).

Step 3: List out the next 3 action steps you need to take to get started.

Why 3? So many reasons, but I'll keep it short:

  • 3 is easy to remember

  • 3 action steps make a task more doable

  • 3 helps you make progress and it feels good

  • Quick wins create momentum

  • 3 likely helps you hit 3 weeks. Creating a new habit (like giving yourself intentional Me Time) takes 21 days or 3 weeks

Step 4: Write it on the calendar!

You've made the time, now attach an action step to that time! This can be by day on a written calendar, or a digital one on the phone, or week by week (i.e. Week 1: Do this, Week 2: Do This Next).

Revisit Steps 2-4 as you complete your action steps!

Example Action Steps 1: I will make my Target the Stars quilt by Christmas for my sister. Next week I will pick my fabric. In week 2 I will cut everything out. Week 3 I will start sewing and write out the next 3 weeks based on my progress and the pattern.

Example Action Steps 2: I will create a Workshop for my Target the Stars quilt pattern. On day 1 I will map the workshop. On day 2 I will write out the details I want to add that are not in the pattern. Day 3 I will pick the fabric palette and share it on Social Media with a teaser and outline my script.

That's nice Tori, but I want to do many different things!

If that sounds like you, try to choose themes for time blocks.

For instance, if you've chosen a daily time block for learning from a self-help book.

Day 1 - 2 can be reading.

Day 3 is for applying what you're learning.

Day 4 is meeting with an accountability partner.

Day 5 is extra - need more time to implement? Need to clean up your notes or organize your space? Want to keep reading or researching outside of the resource you're using? Use this day!

Let's get to it and starts achieving those goals!

4. Increase the Focus

I'm sure you've seen advice on how to help yourself focus before. I'm going to reiterate what has worked best for me. I'm not one to suggest things unless they work for me. Try a few things out and figure out what works for you!

  1. "Silence" the phone. This can be literally with "do not disturb," but this works best for me when I just leave it in a different room or put something on top of my phone so it's out of sight, but I can still hear if I need to.

  2. White noise, music, or a podcast.

  3. Drink water and eat a snack that makes you feel energized when you start.

  4. Have a designated spot (under a tree in your back yard, the closet, the basement, the kitchen table, or your own room for your Me Time if possible).

Creating an environment that allows you to focus is important. Once you find a rhythm, whatever that looks like to you, it will help you get in the zone for your Me Time.

I used to live in a one-bedroom apartment with my husband when he first joined the military. There was no kitchen table. We have a little counter off the kitchen and a coffee table. For my Me Time, I started quilting again using the yardage and scraps my mom had given me that didn't fit her palette anymore.

I would turn on the news, fill my water, and set up my little Brother's sewing machine on the coffee table. Doing these 3 things each time I started to quilt got my mind ready to quilt. It helped set the tone that it was time to create! Then I would pack it up and store the machine and fabric in the corner of the room when the time was done. Signaling to my brain that it was time to switch gears.

Creating this rhythm and changing my environment briefly really helped me focus and I got that quilt done in 5(ish) months! Just in time for winter!

5. Playing & Slipping

Don't forget to make your Me time fun, fulfilling, and energizing. If it's not fun, fulfilling, and energizing (like playtime!) it's less likely that you will continue. You will find yourself slipping back to emptying your cup without creating that time to refill it.

Speaking of can slip and restart. If you need permission to stop, shift, or reevaluate, here is your permission slip to slip up and start again when you're ready.

If your Me Time takes a backseat for a few weeks or months, and you find yourself needing that time again, start the process over. Every season of life brings new challenges and realistically your Me Time may be a hard thing to enforce when you have a newborn or you're taking care of an aging parent, you're starting a new job, getting major surgery, or you get a puppy. Me Time should be serving you, not draining you.

When you're ready to start again, possibly start smaller. What do you need now? It could look different, which is a beautiful part of being human. We grow, we change, we learn, and we can relearn.

One more time just in case you skimmed: We grow, we change, we learn, and we can relearn!

Need a little help? Book a Strategy Session here!

Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.


Want to see more from Tori? Sign up for the Monthly Newsletter here!

Want to use your Me Time to create a workshop? Check out Course Design here.

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Need a little help? Book a Strategy Session here!

Grab Your Free eBook, Design Your Workshop, here.


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