You might think a post about taking time for yourself has no place on a blog about business; you would be mistaken. In the era of modern technology where people can get hold of you before you’ve even woken up in the morning (if you let them!) taking time for yourself, and protecting that time, is more important than ever if you want to keep going and avoid burnout.
Here are my 10 rules for making time for yourself:
- Schedule in grey time. Every day, no matter what I’m doing, I have grey time scheduled into my diary. It might only be ten minutes here and there, but it’s always there. I plan nothing during this time, and use it to collect my thoughts, to call home, to plan my next move. I learned the hard way that rushing from meeting to meetin and working at every available opportunity can only be carried on for so long.
- Get outside. Never underestimate the power of a few minutes spent outside. At home I can go for a walk around the garden and enjoy the numerous shades of green that surround me – but even if I’m int he middle of the city with meetings all day, I know that getting outside for a few minutes will help me to stop and recollect my thoughts in between discussions.
- Stop – Inhale – Reset. I carry my Scentered Focus aromatherapy balm everywhere with me, and I use it daily. Not only because I love the smell, but also because performing that ritual really does help me to reset my mood. Although the businesses I invest in are all around the health and wellness sector, I do still have times where I have to switch from talking about airport security to a lengthy discussion on surfing festivals. Taking that moment to reset my mind really helps in this transition.
- Make holidays, holidays. I work very hard; I’m always on the go. But many have expressed shock at how quickly I can go from this to literally horizontal and relaxed. I don’t take holidays as often as I might, but when I do, I am on holiday. I don’t open my emails; I don’t pick up the phone; I don’t check social media. I am present with my family, reminding myself what life is all about.
- Don’t check social media! Ok, hands up – I don’t really care that much for social media any way. For my businesses, it’s great and I use it for all of them – but for me, there are many other places my time can be better spent. Social media serves a purpose for many of us, but so often I have seen it suck time away from already busy lives. Remove the relevant apps from your phone, and see how much more relaxed you feel in the evenings without the constant beeping.
- Walk the dog. I love dogs. I love my dogs. They are great for winding down with after a really busy week. The thing about dogs is that they need to be walked, so it’s a good way of making sure that you get out in the fresh air every day too. I’ll admit it’s often my husband who does the walking, but when I’m home, I like to take the dogs outside for a while and clear my head.
- Communicate clearly. While I may insist on complete radio silence from my companies while I am on holiday, I don’t just up and leave them to it. I make sure the relevant people know when I will not be available, and that they have a chance to ask questions and discuss plans before I leave. This allows me to go on holiday with peace of mind that my team know what they are doing, and that means I can relax properly.
- Stop wasting time. It’s easy to think you’re giving yourself a break by bringing your laptop into the living room to watch a movie while you finish off, or working through yet another lunch break, but doing things like this just prolongs your working day and produces sub standard work. I work very hard during my working day; I don’t waste time on idle chit chat or gossip or wavering on small decisions. I keep work conversations short and to the point; I focus on the task in hand; I get the job done. I have cultivated this focus for years now and believe it is the key to success both personally and professionally. If I can get through my work and meetings as quickly and efficiently as possible, there will be more time left to spend with my family and friends – or alone, if I need to be.
- Know yourself. I know my limits, and I have learned over the years when I need to rest and take time for myself, and when I can push on and do the next thing. I know that I need to get enough rest if I am going to function and perform well, and I know my limits.
- Read a lot. Reading is a great way to rest that part of your brain that is usually being stimulated by screens of one kind or another. I read a lot of business books as I feel there is always something new I can learn, but while I am learning I am also allowing my brain and my body to rest and recharge. And yes, I do also sometimes read fiction or things not related to work too!
After more than twenty years in business, I have seen a lot of people crash and burn. It is never pleasant to watch, and every time I have seen a friend or colleague struggling I have reminded myself that I could be next if I don’t take care of myself.
During my last year in Pacific Direct, I was away from home for 221 nights. I travelled all over the world, and there was more than one occasion where I had to get up and open the hotel curtains in order to figure out which country I was in. It was tough; really tough. Thankfully my life is nowhere near that hectic any more but I still employ the techniques that got me through that year, to make sure I am able to keep doing what I love.