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"We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we'll also have a lot more joy in living." - Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master

Leadership experts offer a lot of advice on how you can become more productive, more effective and more successful in your role. Most of the advice focuses on what you do while you are working. However, it is important to remember that an effective leader has to have balance in his or her life. It's easy to be "all about work" all the time, but if you don't take time to recharge your batteries, you cannot be effective on the job. Making time for yourself is actually one of the best things you can do as a leader. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most challenging.

Block The Time

You probably block time each week at work to focus on critical tasks. During those time blocks, your team knows not to schedule you for other things. Start treating "me time" in the same way. Schedule time each evening that is uninterruptable and do something just for you - even if it's just for 30 minutes. Read a book, take a walk, focus on a hobby, exercise etc.

Once a month, schedule a "treat" for yourself like going to a spa, taking a shopping trip or attending a concert or movie. Schedule that time after work hours, but make it consistent. If you have trouble blocking that time just for you, take a class in the evening or join a group. Creating a personal or financial commitment will motivate you to stick to your plan.

Connect With Yourself On Your Commute

If you take public transportation to work, how do you use that time? Are you checking emails and reading up on the latest sales reports? Stop. Use that time for yourself. Read a book, listen to an audiobook, journal, discover new podcasts, etc. Those hours spent on a train each day can help you stay connected to things you enjoy.

If you drive to and from work, you can use your commute to listen to audio recordings, music you love, or you can turn off the radio and simply reflect. Try to stay disconnected from work until you park your car in the lot. Then, when you get back in the car seat at the end of the day, disengage again.

Create Synergy

Making time for oneself is very, very hard for many business leaders. If you struggle to make it a reality, don't worry. You can actually make time for yourself while you are at work. How? Start showing up 30 minutes earlier than normal and use that quiet time to read. Take lunch breaks by yourself rather than with a group. Go for a short afternoon walk to clear your head and rejuvenate yourself. You can "sneak" time for yourself in many ways while you are at the office, if you just think creatively.

Making Time For Yourself Means Just That

Everyone needs time to himself or herself. Time spent with your family is important, but it does not count as "me time." Remember when you were a kid and your parents actually hired babysitters to watch you while they went out? Find a great sitter whom your children love and make a reoccurring monthly appointment. Take a few hours that morning, day or evening to focus just on you. Grandparents, aunts and uncles can be great resources. Giving them "their day" with the kids gives everyone - including you - something special to look forward to.

Let Go Of The Guilt

We have become so obsessed with "work" today that making time for you can seem indulgent. It is important to shed the guilt and get over it. Spending time alone and focusing on something that you enjoy will relax you and help you approach work higher energy and focus. If you spend 24/7/365 thinking only about work, you will burn out.

What will you make time to do for yourself today?


Larry Hart

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