How to Create More “Me” Time During the Workweek

Anyone working a nine-to-five knows that finding time for yourself during busy days can be particularly challenging. Luckily, Justin Kerr, author of How to Be Great at Your Jobhas a few tips on how to carve out that precious “me” time.

Before we jump into it, a little about his book: it covers the basics, like advice working with other people, making stellar presentations, and communicating effectively over email. It also goes into how to get promoted sooner, impress the people high up on the corporate ladder, and do it all while maintaining your personal life and without working crazy hours. 

How to Be Great at Your Job
Okay, on to the main event. Read on for tips on how to make the workweek feel more personal, and ultimately, more productive!

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It’s important to realize that work-life balance doesn’t only exist outside the office. There are a lot of small things you can do during your workday to ensure that you are staying connected to the rest of the world and keeping yourself fresh and energized by the people and places around you. Here are three easy ways to carve out “me” time in your otherwise over-programmed workweek.


1. Get to work early

Every fifteen minutes you spend at your desk before everyone else arrives is worth thirty minutes toward an earlier departure at the end of the day. This means that if you can get to work thirty minutes early in the morning, you will be able to leave work one hour earlier. Thus, one hour earlier in the morning translates to being home two hours earlier in the evening. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Now, what you choose to do with those two hours is up to you. Play with the kids, drink with friends, get to the gym . . . the point is, your life is the choices you make, so decide if one extra snooze button is worth staying at the office for an extra thirty minutes.

Pro Tip: Make mornings work time and evenings play time.

In all my years of working in corporate America, I’ve never had anyone invite me to hang out and do something fun at 7 a.m. I have, however, had plenty of fun invitations and opportunities present themselves at 6 p.m. Having to say no to those things because you have “more work to do” builds resentment toward your job and causes you to miss out on life.


2. Eat lunch outside

It is important that you keep yourself fresh during the day (and the week). Stepping outside for a walk at lunch is a no-cost investment in your mental and physical health.

Leave your phone at your desk and just walk. It’s a great chance to remind yourself that there is an entire world out there, and taking thirty minutes outside for lunch can provide much-needed perspective, especially when things at work are “hard” or “overwhelming.” It is at these times, more than ever, that you need to invest in yourself and give yourself a little break.

The timing may not work out every single day, but overall, you should be making time to step outside at least four days per week. Whether it’s an afternoon coffee break, a fast lunch in the cafeteria paired with a meandering walk around the block, or stepping outside to call an old friend for ten minutes before heading back up to your desk, it is important to prioritize getting out of the office building on a regular basis.

The point is to give yourself a break from the office routine (this report in this basket on this day at this time . . . ) and keep your mind and body fresh.

So shake things up. Do something different today. Walk three blocks in a direction you’ve never been. A likely side effect is that you’ll find new ideas inspired by new inputs, so even your work will benefit from your non-work efforts.

Pro Tip: Make a habit of grabbing random coworkers for these pop-out sessions.

Especially on the coffee breaks in the afternoon, these brief ten-minute walks can build your network and keep the human connection alive in the workplace.


3. Take a class

It is important to be attuned to the moments at work when things feel a little bit easier—or less busy. Rather than settling for being bored, I would encourage you to find stimulation from projects outside work.

There will be plenty of days and weeks (and months) when work is really, really hard, so take advantage of the moments when it eases up, and do something purposeful.

Sign up for a random class during the workweek. No matter where you live, there are countless classes for drawing, painting, ceramics, beekeeping, or anything your heart desires.

I recommend that you make your boss feel like a part of the journey. Ask their permission; explain that you want to try something new and mention that it will require you to leave by 5:30 on Wednesdays. Voilà—you have given yourself a wonderful excuse to leave work early, you’ll learn something new, AND your boss will be flattered to think they are contributing to this opportunity. Everybody wins.

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How to Be Great at Your Job

For more work tips that will make your life not only easier but also more successful, check out How to Be Great at Your Job by Justin Kerr. 

Justin Kerr

Justin Kerr is the president of Imprint Projects and formerly an executive at Gap, Old Navy, Levi's, and UNIQLO. He lives in New York City.

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