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Five ways to make more 'me' time

By Michael O. Cooper

Howdy Real Jocks!

Thank you for all of your messages and encouragement over the past few weeks. Some of you shared some of the struggles you have with working out, being competitive, body image and staying healthy—mentally, emotionally and physically.

With the lifestyles we lead as active gay men, we often have way too many things (or people) on our to-do lists and not enough time to do them. Self-care is critical to maintaining a healthy, vibrant life and making time for yourself is the best way to care for your body, mind and soul. Without "me" time we often become disconnected from who we really are and spend much of our time zoned out. Below are my top five ways to make more time for yourself so that you can be your best and make the most of life.

With crazy schedules, to-do lists a mile long and the latest episodes of "Footballers Wives" to catch on Tivo, it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day. But, we all have the same amount of time to spend. I suggest borrowing time from some of your current activities—things that may seem important but really aren't—shave 15 minutes off your evening routine to meditate or simply relax. Instead of showering, soak in the tub for an extra 10 minutes. Book 30 minutes in the middle of your work day to close your office door and block out the world.

OK, so everything on your to-do list is a must. Your friends demand your time. You've got to work out. And you need a social life. But there are probably dozens of things you do every week that are nice to do, but not really necessary or important. There is nothing more important than taking care of yourself. It should be your top priority. If you don't take care of yourself, you can't be a great athlete, your health wanes, your sleep patterns change, you lose vitality and get run down. So, re-prioritize and make sure you put yourself first. That may mean scheduling "me time" in your calendar or simply dropping all of the demands you put on yourself so that you can run at optimum levels.

This is harder than it sounds. After all, shouldn't simplifying actually be simple? The problem most of us face is that we really don't know what we want, so we spend a lot of time, energy and focus on things that aren't really that important. Ask yourself this question: What is most important to me? If your health isn't top of that list, it is time to simplify!

Personal efficiency, it's my specialty. It's hard to admit, but most of us are horribly inefficient with how we use our time. We spend hours on Web sites surfing or gabbing at the water cooler. All of that time takes brain power. Which means your body doesn't get to use that same power to recharge and repair. Cut out the unnecessary "filler" at work and get out of the office earlier! If you work in an environment that rewards "face time" rather than productivity, then you're in an unhealthy environment built on your boss's ego, rather than real business goals. Most of us only put in five real hours of work every day, yet we spend eight-plus hours in the office. Imagine what you could do with just a fraction of those three extra hours, if you used it for your health.

Here's the truth: Perfection doesn't exist. Stop trying so hard to reach some ideal. Enjoy today. You may get run over by a bus tomorrow. An old friend said: "I'll sleep when I'm dead," then he had a massive heart attack at 46 years old and dropped dead. His doctor said he worked himself to death. (I miss you, Thomas!) You're good enough just as you are right now. Enjoy what you've got!

If you have some favorite ways to make time for yourself, hit the reply button and let me know. I'll compile the list and share with all Real Jocks in a future column. Thanks for reading. If you have suggestions or questions for future articles, please let me know.

Make it a great week by reconnecting with yourself and taking the down time you need to be your best.

Michael "Coop" O. Cooper is a personal life coach. Write to him at