Here Are 10 Ways To Absolutely Reclaim Your Time, Sis
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 are 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.
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.
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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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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