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Here Are 10 Ways To Absolutely Reclaim Your Time, Sis

"Understanding the value of time is understanding the true essence of life."—Sunday Adelaja

Inspiration

Lord. What is up with so many white men wanting to cut Black women off while they're talking? In the political world, most recently, it was (probably) when Senator (at the time) Kamala Harris was debating with Vice President (at the time) Mike Pence. As he kept interrupting her, she said, firmly, "I'm speaking." (Excellent.) Yet what inspired this particular piece is back in 2017, when Congresswoman Maxine Waters was being questioned by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and he kept speaking over her as well (SMDH). Auntie Maxine's response? "I'm reclaiming my time." Well played. Then multiply it. Then rinse and repeat.

Time. If there is one thing that most of us take for granted that we absolutely can never replace, it's time. I was actually telling someone, not too long ago, that it totally trips me out that this year marks my 20th anniversary of leaving corporate America to write because, in the grand scheme of things, for the most part, two decades went by pretty quickly. And you know what? If I knew then what I know now, I would've been far more responsible with a lot of my days, weeks and months than I actually was 20 years ago (insert another "SMDH" in right here).

That's the bad news. The good news is there are certain practices that I've been implementing that have helped me to reclaim my time in the sense of making the most of each 24-hour day, so that I don't waste any more of my precious time. If that's a goal that you'd like to achieve as we prepare to close out one year and enter into another, I've got 10 helpful ways for you to reclaim (restore) your extremely valuable time too.

1. Create a Morning Ritual and Evening Ritual

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Something that I read, a long time ago, is the worst thing that you can do is jerk yourself up in the morning or crash at night. The first increases your chances of starting off your day feeling all jittery and anxious while the latter shows that you are truly exhausted (which usually means that you need to get more rest than you currently do). A way to curb both of these is to create a morning ritual and evening ritual for yourself. The morning could be waking up to a favorite song rather than an annoying alarm and/or praying and/or meditating. Whatever you do, your ritual definitely needs to include not looking at your phone until you get out of the shower before officially starting your day. As far as your evening ritual goes, it could consist of having a glass of wine and/or a bubble bath and/or catching up on a book.

The reality is, once the day officially gets off and running, a lot of us are unable to find time for ourselves (especially if you're married and/or have kids). One way to make sure that doesn't happen (anymore) is to create your own "alpha and omega" (so to speak) rituals; ones that can give you at least an hour of time, completely to yourself.

2. Put No More than Five Things on Your Daily To-Do List

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While I know this one might sound crazy, hear me out before you shut the suggestion all the way down. I don't know about you, but the older I get, the more the day seems totally shot after noon creeps up. If you make a point to only put five things on your to-do list and then you're super focused on knocking those things out, depending on what they are, there's a pretty good chance that it'll be between noon and 2pm (give or take a couple of hours) before those tasks are completed. However, since there are less things on your list, you can knock 'em out, create a feeling of accomplishment and have a few more hours towards the end of your day for other activities. Listen, ever since I've shortened my own to-do list, life has slowed down (so that I can enjoy it), exponentially so. If there was ever a "don't knock it until you've tried it" response to a recommendation, this would have to be it.

3. Do Certain Things on Certain Days—ONLY

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There are always gonna be clothes to wash. There is always gonna be a need to run to the grocery store. Lord knows that there is always gonna be a bill that needs to be paid. And, if there is one thing that all of these things have in common, it's the fact that it's pretty difficult to do them (well), if you take the "real quick" approach. Shoot, even if you've only got five things to pick up at the store, between driving there, going in and coming back, could still take an hour (or more). That's why it's a good idea to designate certain days for certain activities—and not deviate. Otherwise, you could be like someone in my life who washes clothes around the clock which makes it challenging for her to get other stuff done (because if she's not washing, she's drying; if she's not drying, she's folding). Two wash days could end up helping her to complete other tasks more consistently. It's another cool way to reclaim some time.

4. Set Hours for Social Media

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Did you know that, on average, we spend around 2.5 hours on some sort of social media platform a day? That is more than one-fourth of an average work day, y'all. And while I get that the pandemic caused a lot of us to be home more than we ever dreamed that we would be, that statistic actually hasn't changed much from previous years. So yeah, whether you are using social media for work, leisure or both, if you want to get some of your time back, setting hours for social media engagement (and then honoring the hours that you set) is a surefire way to do it. By the way, this actually applies to all forms of media because I've got a friend who hardly ever watches television and the amount of stuff that he's able to get done in a day because of it, truly boggles the mind. Definitely something to think about.

5. Actually Take a Lunch Break

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There is someone in my world who never—and I do mean, never—takes lunch breaks. I don't get it either because 1) it's the law to have one and 2) once she gets home, she's got a whole 'nother world of stuff on her plate. While it would be awesome if corporate America gave bonus points (in ways of cash) to people who work through the allotted time granted to them to change scenery and cop a meal, the reality is, it doesn't. All ignoring your lunch break is doing is putting you in the position to feel more drained and frazzled. Some folks only really get their 30 minutes to an hour each workday that can be totally to themselves (if they want it). If you fall into this category, you're only hurting yourself by not using your lunch break to temporarily get off of the grid to take care of you, sis.

6. Set Boundaries

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It's pretty hard to do any kind of self-care article (and believe you me, reclaiming your time is most definitely an act of self-care) without mentioning how important it is to set boundaries for yourself. Boundaries are limits and, when it comes to both your personal and professional life, it's OK to let people know what you are willing and not willing to do. For instance, salaried workers tend to get taken advantage of a lot because, since they aren't paid by the hour, employers will sometimes feel like they can use their employees for whatever they need, damn near 24 hours a day.

I've got a friend right now who was clear upon hiring that she couldn't do more than nine-hour days. Fast forward to five years later and she's basically on-call, including weekends, with no increase in pay. When I ask her why she doesn't speak with her boss about how she's being taken advantage of, she says she doesn't wanna "rock the boat".

Y'all, human nature can oftentimes lean towards being pretty self-consumed when there aren't limits put into place. In other words, you can easily find yourself out here getting worn out by folks who will sleep like a baby every night, if you don't learn how to draw lines and also say "no" sometimes. "No" is actually one of the most effective ways to reclaim your time. For the sake of your overall health and well-being, don't be afraid to use it sometimes, OK?

7. Schedule in “Me Date” Moments

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When's the last time you took yourself on a date? After all, a date should be about spending quality time with someone in order to get to know themselves better, and hear me when I say that many married folks can attest to the fact that, just because you live with someone, that doesn't mean you know them as well as you might think that you do. This is why being proactive about becoming as self-aware as possible is key and one way to do that is by setting aside regular and consistent time, to just…BE with yourself. Watch a movie. Enjoy a meal alone. Take yourself shopping. Go on a hike. Have a spa day. Spend a night in a hotel. Do things that express that you believe, that out of all of the people in your life who should make you a top priority, YOU should top the list. Cherished moments alone are some of the best times that you will ever spend. I can promise you that, a thousand times over.

8. Figure Out What Is a Complete Waste of Your Time

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Because I strive to be as word-specific as possible, something that irks me to no end is when people say, "Nothing is a waste of time." Are you kidding me? There are all kinds of people, places, things and ideas that directly result in definitions like "to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return" and "to be consumed, spent, or employed uselessly or without giving full value or being fully utilized or appreciated". Just because you may have learned something from it/them, it doesn't mean that you didn't receive the same return for the effort that you gave or that you didn't go unappreciated for all that you did.

That's why, I'm a firm believer that it is a complete act of disrespect to be out here doing things that you know is gonna waste someone else's time; time that they can never get back. That's why I'm such a fan of the Bob Marley quote that says, "The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her." You know what makes this kind of man a coward? It's the fact that he goes into something, something that he knows that he's either not ready for or interested in, which ends up hurting the woman and totally wasting her time.

So yeah, seriously pondering what or who in your life is causing you to give more than you get is worth exploring. It could be Instagram or a guy that you're seeing. There's a Chinese proverb that says something along the lines of, "It's shorter than you think." Whatever is wasting your time, shift it out of your space—so that you can put that time to far better use.

9. Forgive Others. And Yourself.

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I strive to be a Bible follower and when it comes to the topic of forgiveness, its stance is pretty crystal clear. Matthew 6:14-15(NKJV) says, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." This is saying that if you want God to forgive you for what you do wrong (and we all do wrong), we must forgive others. Honestly, it's a great way to remain humble in this walk called life.

Besides, not forgiving others is such a colossal waste of time. Most people who choose not to forgive, they typically tend to do so because they think it's some kind of form of punishment towards the "offender" when the reality is, more times than not, while they're out here not forgiving a person, that individual is somewhere frolicking through life and sleeping like a baby at night. I say all of the time that in order for reconciliation to transpire, the "victim" should forgive AND the victimizer should repent; not either or—both. However, in order to release feelings of bitterness, in order to heal and stay open to other people coming into your life (ones who you won't give hell to because you are still mad at someone from your past), in order to move forward, "accepting that the past can't change" (which is a definition of forgiveness that I think best-selling author Gary Zukav came up with) is paramount.

Forgiveness helps to stop reliving the past as you take in the lessons that you need from it in order to move on with your future as a healthier and wiser individual; not a resentful and fear-filled one. That's why, while you're at it, you should make sure to forgive yourself too. Amen? Amen.

10. ORGANIZE

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Clutter can definitely take up your time. A messy bedroom tends to make it harder to sleep. A messy office makes it challenging to complete tasks efficiently. A messy relationship can have your emotions all over the place. That's why I thought it would be best to close this article out with a call to make sure that you organize, as much of your life as possible. Clean your house. Set personal and professional goals. Get clear on what you want in your relationships with others, convey those points, to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The sooner you get yourself organized, the easier it will be to make the absolute most of your time. It's one of the best "reclaimers" there is.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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