I know I can’t be the only one. There are all sorts of life lessons we understand on an intellectual level, but they feel practically impossible to put into practice. You should sleep more. You should eat better. Meanwhile, I’ve got a full bowl of cheesy puffs in front of me at 2 in the morning. Not good. Another one of these life lessons is that you should be able to enjoy some guilt-free “me time.”

You cannot serve from an empty vessel and all that.

Me Time Isn’t Productive

Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m some sort of selfless martyr. That I give myself selflessly to those around me, sacrificing all that I have for the betterment of others. Obviously not. At the same time, I get overcome with crippling guilt every time I do decide to indulge in some “me time.”

Maybe it’s because I’m self-employed and work from home. Maybe it’s because I’m a stay-at-home parent. There’s always something that needs to be done, either professionally or for the family. In choosing to indulge in some Netflix, play some video games, or just sit on a park bench and gaze off into nothing in particular, it can feel like I’m wasting my time. I could be more productive. I should be more productive.

I don’t feel especially guilty while I’m watching a movie or playing a game. It’s quite easy to lose yourself in these fictional worlds and stories. It’s afterward that the guilt comes pouring in like an unstoppable avalanche. You know, Michael, you probably could have spent this time more wisely.

Balancing the Scales

But this got me thinking about the idea of earning my “me time.” Hear me out on this one. In the context of “making it” on YouTube, Sara Dietschy champions the “one for them, one for me” strategy. She’ll make one video whose objective is to rack up views (and dollars), even if it’s not her favorite thing to shoot. Then, she’ll make another video that’s more of a passion project, even if it doesn’t attract the same number of eyeballs. One for them, one for me.

This way, she doesn’t feel “guilty” for “indulging” in a passion project video. One keeps the lights on, while the other keeps her motivated and engaged. Can we apply a similar kind of mindset in the context of responsibility and leisure time? Maybe.

One for Them, One for Me

By putting in the time to work on a client project, I can make a deposit into the Bank of Me Time. By running errands for the family or taking care of some household duty, I plunk a little more into the Me Time savings account. Not literally, of course, but the visualization can help to justify the act of playing Smash Bros for an hour. Or finally finishing the second season of Castlevania on Netflix.

This is how I can give myself permission, so to speak, to do something just for me. I’m not justifying this to anyone else but me. No one is actually stopping me from enjoying some guilt-free me time. It’s just me. I just have to get over myself and the “one for them, one for me” banking paradigm might be the way to do it.

What do you think? Will this work? Have you devised a different system or strategy that works for you?