Leaders, Make Time For Yourselves
As a leader in today’s world, much of your time is squeezed to the bare essentials every hour of every day.
And if you’re a true servant leader, spending your energies on others for their benefit as well as that of the organization can leave little time for you to refresh your energies or perspective.
Leaders need to, as Steven Covey suggests, “sharpen the saw” regularly. Without times for refreshing and exploring more of who you are, and what you are, you will be thin in your passion, effectiveness, and fulfillment of life.
So how can leaders make the most of “their” time, when there is so precious little of it to be spent on them? Here are some ways to make the most of your time:
- First, Schedule time for yourself. Financial advisors tell you that in order become more fiscally sound, you need to pay yourself first. Likewise, in order to become more sound in your life, you need pay yourself first with time. By doing so, you are scheduling time to invest in yourself and have that time to refresh and sharpen.
- Find time daily to stop and pause. A planned time during the day to break yourself away from everything is beneficial to let the brain breathe and process all that you’ve put it through. A 20-minute time to pull away, and to just think, walk, or rest will recharge your thinking and give you a better perspective on the day’s challenges.
- Plan talking time with friends and family. Whether it’s during the midday break above, on the drive home, or at any other interval, connecting with close family members and friends help you to think about the other people in your life, and even give you an outlet to talk through your day and your cares. Sometimes a spouse or a lifelong friend can give you unexpected advice, or tell you the proper perspective to place things, or other timely wisdom. It’s amazing how people with no connection to an issue can give a clear view of the potential solution.
- Stop and eat. Eating at your desk, or en route, or in a rush, is not a healthy way to replenish nutrients. Our bodies are made to slow down during the eating and digesting process. In order to allow your body to operate at it’s best, stop and sit to eat, and eat slowly. It’s also a good way to enjoy and savor your food and appreciate how you’ve been provided for.
- Breathe. Jon Mertz at Lead Change Group wrote about using our impatience to our advantage, including taking time to breathe. Conscious breathing, done purposely, can reduce stress and help ease tension in the mind as well. We all know the health benefits, but the refreshment of your mind and body will allow you to re-focus with clarity and get the blood moving through your body and brain making you more effective and relaxed.
- Plan a day for each area of your life. A while back I posted how you can make your 7-day week work better for every area of your life. Simply put, take your weekly schedule and plan one thing in a different area of your life into that day. One day may be exercise, another may be buying your spouse a card, another might be a phone call to an ailing friend, another might be reading every Thursday. By making each day have a focus area, you can get more done in your life. These don’t have to be large time commitments, but a slight chipping away at your goals and values will give you a tremendous amount of satisfaction in that you’re not neglecting those parts of your life that make you complete.
- Take your earned vacation time – ALL OF IT. I see so many leaders who sacrifice their hard-earned time because they can’t break away, they claim, from the business at hand. While some circumstances are unavoidable and pose some time challenges, it is usually because these folks don’t see the importance of taking their vacation, personal days, or sabbatical and choose to work instead. This is short-sighted and will truncate your career, in addition to your ability to lead. Your benefit package is more than just your salary, benefits, and health insurance; why do you think companies give vacation and earned time as part of the package? Because it’s vital to the longevity of every employee there. Plan, truly plan, to take your time off, and refresh yourself.
- Go off the grid if necessary. It’s difficult to fully unplug in today’s connected world. If you can unplug for a full vacation, or even a few days, then do it. But even having small “black-out” periods from social media, electronic entertainment, and your smartphone create an environment that gives you, not the world, control of your time. Fighting the urge to check that text is a challenge, but letting people know that you’re unavailable during certain times will minimize those disruptions and afford you the down time you need.
Spend time with yourself. You’ll find yourself enjoyable, more effective, and highly energized.