The kids need to get ready for school. You’ve got an 8:30 am appointment with a client who says they’re finally ready to give you an answer on the property. You’ve got to talk to your assistant about clearing your schedule before you go on that trip to Spain in two weeks. And if you don’t update your phone already, Apple is going to send a team to your house. Does any of this feel familiar to you?
Times like this, when it seems there is just too much to do and so little time to do it in, it’s easy to get lost in the calendar shuffle and lose sight of the human behind the work. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of introversion and extroversion, doing stuff “out there” in the world — the emails, the phone calls, the scheduling, the meetings — requires energy. If we keep giving energy out into the world without replenishing our own supply, we eventually hit a wall and either get physically sick or so exhausted that we don’t have a choice but to stop and recharge our batteries.
You might think shoving an energy bar in your mouth between meetings is enough. But calories are only one form of energy. You need mental focus. Spiritual centeredness. Emotional wherewithal.
The question is: if you wait until push comes to shove, until you’re so exhausted that you come home, don’t bother to take your makeup off and collapse in a heap on top of the nearest pile of dirty laundry, will you have the time and resources to properly recharge?
We can’t all jet off to a spa resort to be pampered. The oatmeal needs to be stirred. Little hands need to be washed. Big hands need to be shaken, as you close those deals.
You know you need to take time for self-care, but how can you do a reset when you don’t have five days to do a detox and go to canyon ranch? How do you recenter and cleanse?
Do One Thing At A Time
We can fall into the trap of thinking that it’s all about multi-tasking. But according to productivity expert Dave Crenshaw, attempting to perform multiple tasks at a time not only makes each task take longer and makes it more likely you’ll make mistakes (which you’ll later have to fix) — it increases stress.
Next time you’re feeling like you’re at your max stress-wise, ask yourself if you’re multitasking. Then give yourself the gift of doing one thing at a time, as quickly and calmly as possible.
Feed Your Soul
We lose a sense of levity and humanity when we’re hunched over our phones, digging through emails to see what’s most important.
When you feel disconnected and frazzled, take a human moment. Ask your coworker to go for a 10-minute walk, literally around the block. If you have children or a partner, schedule time every day to simply be with them. Listen to a motivational talk every day, even if for five minutes.
It’s only with the human spark of your aliveness actually being lit that you can tackle your work in the best way.
Consider yourself on green, yellow, or red. When you’re on green, life is chugging along and you’re doing well. Proceed.
On yellow, you’re getting in the weeds a bit. Reach out for help, and make sure your day is prioritized appropriately. You may need to let some of the important but not urgent tasks go for a day or two.
When you’re on red, let the people around you know you need a pep talk and a helping hand. Release yourself from the guilt of not doing the nice-to-haves for this week.
Try to do the smallest gestures of self-care that will get you back on track. A 5-minute meditation. A 10-minute jog. A 15-minute brain dump session with your partner.
By acknowledging you’re not ok at the moment, you will better be able to find your way back.
Weak boundaries allow people to chip away at your self care. An email answered here while meditating. A work call taken there during your “uninterrupted” time with your kiddos.
Set expectations early and firmly. Frame them as part of the win and the value you provide. A great phrase I like is, “In order to come to my clients at 100%, I make sure my downtime and family time is uninterrupted in my off hours.”
Self-care is not binary. It’s not something you have to go somewhere else to do. Weave it into your day, and you’ll be able to give yourself waves of refresh among the draining chaos that is this fabulous life we’ve chosen.
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