What, exactly, is me time?

photo-375“Me time” sounds like an awesome thing. It’s something most of us claim we’d like more of. But what exactly is it?

I was pondering this question after alert blog reader Maggie sent me an article from the Sydney Morning Herald called “Generation Overstimulation? Generation Y’s Addiction to Being Busy.” According to this trend piece, millennials are very, very busy. 65% feel busy often or all of the time. This is illustrated by an anecdote of one young Ozzie named Broden Tadros. “He works up to 50 hours a week at a marketing job in the city and in his spare time, writes music, performs gigs, plays Oz-tag, catches up with friends, sees his family and tries to keep his house vaguely in order. Oh, he is also training for a half-marathon in September.”

The reporter deems this “exhausting” and quotes Tadros saying his life is “a balancing act” and that “I rarely have a second to myself.”

Let us unpack this statement. Tadros is running half marathons. I’m guessing this is not required for his marketing job. Likewise he finds time to write music. He is an adult. No one is making him do any of this. I’m guessing he runs and plays music because he enjoys these activities. They are things he likes to do — things that nurture his soul. They are freely chosen, fulfilling leisure time activities.

So is that me time? I’d say yes, and that Tadros has way more than a second to himself, though the definition of me-time is perhaps slippery. According to my quick Google search, the definition is “time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy.”

Music and running are both activities that reduce stress for me. They restore my energy. I presume they do for Tadros too. Otherwise, why on earth is he doing them?

I think that what often happens in life is that claiming to have no me time is about feeling like we have made lots of commitments. These commitments may be things we really, really love (like gigs with a band – if he’s got a 50 hour/week marketing gig, it isn’t the band that’s paying the bills). But though they are freely chosen leisure activities, they aren’t solo downtime. The colloquial definition of me time may not be time spent doing things for yourself, but doing them by yourself, and hence one’s perception of me time has little to do with the actual quantity of time spent on relaxing, stress-reducing activities. That’s why I found a poll on WorkingMother.com once asking respondents when they’d last had me time. A full 50 percent claimed they couldn’t remember, which struck me as funny, since taking online polls is the kind of fun thing one does when taking a break — doing it for oneself, reducing stress. Could it be…me time?

How would you define me time?

2 thoughts on “What, exactly, is me time?

  1. I had to laugh when I read what that young man does with his time and his complaint that he has no time to himself!

    For me, as a stay at home parent with kids in school, “me time” is free time, yes. But if I do not do something that makes me feel refreshed, I look back on that time when it’s over and regret how I spent it.

    Taking a bath (at least until little people break through the daddy barrier and bust in), taking walks along SF Bay, reading a book, responding to time management articles (ahem), & doing something mildly creative are all activities that leave me feeling full, rather than still depleted. That’s my definition of “me time”.

  2. I completely agree that anything that brings you joy is ‘me time’. So for me it will be basically almost everything in my life :). Work/office responsibilities can get daunting, but even then there are plenty of good and interesting activities. And then add cooking, eating, gardening, cleaning (which I love), photography, hanging out with a toddler and a husband – I am living the life with almost 100% me time :)!

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