• Ashley Miller-Dykeman

TOVI Exercise: Making Room for Self-Care


A woman looking at her to-do list
Photo: Moyo Studio/iStock

Ever feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day? Here’s an exercise from TOVI's Mental Health Expert, Dr. Lorena Ruci, that’ll help you get organized and find more time for yourself.


Step 1: Take inventory of how you spend your day.


The exercise starts with making two lists for the day (or tomorrow). Divide the page in two and place these headers in each:

  • What you have to do (your obligations)

  • What you want to do (your fun, relaxing activities)


A to-do list template that divides have-to-do and want-to-do activities

You can make these lists to reflect on how you’ve spent your time, prepare for tomorrow, or in the morning before your day gets going.


When you finish a list, look at it, and reflect on how it makes you feel.


Let’s get into more detail about how these lists might look.


List 1: What you have to do


Your first list should be an itemized breakdown of your obligations for the day. Think of this list as what you absolutely must get done today, or there will be consequences.


An example of a have-to-do list

List 2: What you want to do


The second list is the things you want to do today.


Usually, this list has things that will re-energize you or give you time for yourself. They’re also usually things that are important to you or reflect your values. In other words, these are acts of self-care.


An example of a have-to-do and want-to-do list

Step 2: Now, reflect.


Once you have your lists, take a step back and look at them. Just comparing the two lists can be powerful because you can see how much (or how little) of your day is spent doing things you want to do.


Another thing to think about is that for people experiencing high stress levels, the have-to-do list is usually much longer than the want-to-do list.


The visual between the two lists can represent the balance that you aim to achieve in your life.


Step 3: Re-evaluate and re-prioritize.


For many people, the list of things they have to do dominates their day, and the list of things they want to do gets put on the back burner.


The third step of this exercise is to re-evaluate and re-prioritize so you can find time to do things on your want-to-do list.


An example of how to re-evaluate and re-prioritize your have-to-do list to make more time for things you want to do.

When you prioritize activities that give you back energy, your stress levels will be lower, you’ll find more enjoyment in your day, and you will be on your way to having more control of your time. The TOVI app will help you make it happen. Download the app today. It's free!


The Takeaway


An infographic explaining how to make self-care a priority

Reviewed by: Lorena Ruci, PhD, Registered Psychotherapist


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