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.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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