Why do we need time for ourselves

Time management: "We underestimate, how much time we need for ourselves "

Anyone who is happy when a friend cancels at short notice is overloaded. That's what a psychologist says. And she explains how to plan your week in a way that makes you happy.


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Those who start working properly for the first time often suddenly have a fixed daily rhythm: to the office at nine in the morning, home at five or five thirty in the evening. At university you can often organize your time freely or simply take a break with friends in the library instead of meeting them after work.

But with less time comes the stress. And suddenly you are happy when someone cancels at short notice because it feels like free time. We wanted to know why that was and how to plan your week perfectly.

The psychologist Friederike Gerstenberg works as a systemic therapist and coach and actually researches why people don't do what they say. But she also knows her way around time management.

ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Ms. Gerstenberg, I often notice that I am happy when an appointment for an evening is spontaneously canceled. It feels like I've been given time. Why is that?

Friederike Gerstenberg: You are overloaded. We often see our life as a to-do list - instead of wondering how we want to organize our free time, we squeeze everything into our week. Then someone cancels and we are relieved: We can finally go to bed early or read a book. This is a sign that we are actually overflowing with the things we do.



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ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Where does this overload come from?

Gerstenberg: We mercilessly underestimate how much time we need for ourselves to regenerate. When we go out for a drink with a friend in the evening, it's not just the alcohol that causes the hangover the next day. We also need time to process that we had a conversation with someone. For this we need to have phases of passivity in order to reflect. If we are in contact with 20 people on WhatsApp today, then that is more than we ever had. We have to develop a completely different way of dealing with this overabundance.

ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Is there a rule about how much time I should take for myself?

Gerstenberg: No. You should ask yourself how you are actually doing. There are several techniques you can use to find out what would be good for you.

ZEIT Campus ONLINE: Which ones?

Gerstenberg: There is a technique that I use about 15 times a day, called a flashlight. Imagine your psyche is a dark room so you have no idea what it looks like in it. And now you put a flashlight in this room. Then try three adjectives to pinpoint how you are feeling right now. If you do that, you will have a pretty good idea of ​​how you are doing what you need.

ZEIT Campus ONLINE: What does that lead to?

Gerstenberg: You develop a connection to yourself: Do you need another day to rest after a business trip? Do you need yoga twice a week to relax? It's about getting to know yourself.