Busy. The word is overused.

“How have you been?”

“Oh, you know, busy. “

Americans, in particular, pride themselves in being busy. Busy is synonymous with a strong work ethic. The busier you are, the more you are accomplishing toward The American Dream. I’m sure Thomas Jefferson was a very busy man. However, Thomas Jefferson also knew the importance of taking time for himself. He would set aside time everyday to journal and “relax his mind.”

I am not a modern day Thomas Jefferson, and as hard as I try, my efforts are not likely to impact the world in such a major way. However, I do fall into the “busy” category. Between my jobs, school, writing, family, and trying to maintain a glimmer of a social life, I tend to forget about myself.  My mind is rarely relaxed, and committing time to myself can feel like I’m being lazy, or not as productive as I could be.

Most of this is self-inflicted. I could drop most of the things that I do and be considerably less busy, and still be a productive member of society. However, I have ambitions and goals. They are deeply ingrained in me, and to me, a part of my core being. I don’t think I would be the person I am unless I was so goal oriented for not only myself, but my community and workplace as well.

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We believe that busy means success.

And maybe it does, to some extent. However, there is no shame in taking some time – everyday – for you. Until recently, I was working from the time I would wake up until the time I went to sleep. My sleep schedule was sparse, and my body was tired. I decided to make a change, and take time for myself.

I did an overhaul of my schedule and started planning in time for myself. As a photographer, I now only accept sessions on certain days of the week. Everything else was assigned a time slot as well. Now, I do make a point to work during those time slots on the given tasks. If it’s time to edit, then Facebook or my homework have to wait. Focus is key here.

My personal time came in the form of working out with a personal trainer. I’m accountable that way. If it were up to me, I would skip and spend time working on other things. I know she is waiting on me, so I will show up because I value and respect her time. I’m working toward valuing and respecting my own time.  My hour there is disconnected from the outside world, and I can focus on me and my mental (and physical) happiness.

An hour a day. That’s all I’m asking you to take. Take a walk, read a book, start journaling, start meditating, take a nap, or simply sit down and observe the world around you. It will not be easy at first, but you need to make yourself a priority. When did you become any less worthy of time than your work, school, or family? You are worth 1/24 of your day. Make it happen.