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You’re The Difference: 5 Steps To A More Productive You Through Self-Care

You can be more productive through self-care.

Written by: Sabina Nawaz

“You make your best deal going in.”

This frequently proffered advice doesn’t just apply to negotiating your next job, it also applies to self-care.

Executives come to me for coaching laden with good intentions, but rarely follow through in areas of self-care and their personal lives. Clearly, they possess skills to execute effectively at work, but those very attributes trap them in a cycle of starting and ending every day with business, wiping away any possibility of working out, or even taking a walk with a partner. Paradoxically, over time they find themselves in a bind, pressed from all sides to deliver, and with little time and even less energy to execute on the things they’re paid to do. We initiate our coaching sessions by creating a plan to produce more impactful business results—by focusing on themselves first.

Research shows when we invest in self-care, we can avoid burnout, amp up energy and engagement at work, minimize errors, and increase creativity. Working from home during the pandemic has further blurred the boundaries between work and home for many, resulting in a weakened connection between production and payoff. Many lament that they’re working harder than ever, yet making little progress. Lured by the pressure to produce results, they lose the long-term lens through which to view the impact of their work.

We’re all familiar with the deals we make with ourselves to workout daily—starting tomorrow—or eat more healthfully, beginning with the next meal. The eventual becomes increasingly evanescent. The best way to accrue the benefits of self-care is to address it before you start your work.

Here are five strategies to compromise-proof your self-care and achieve more with less effort.

1. Restrain yourself to train others. Many of us respond to emails on our phones in the morning before our feet touch the ground—and activate an ever-hungry call and response system into the late hours of the night. The earlier you respond to emails, the more you raise expectations you’ll respond even earlier. Anticipating a quick response to emails during the day may be reasonable, but even your CEO won’t know when you first look at email if you don’t train them to expect a response at dawn. For most organizations, email at 8am is satisfactory. If you awake at 6am, you can dedicate two hours to working out, or eating breakfast while connecting with your family. Several of my loved ones live in different time zones. I love starting my day communicating with them. I have a non-work account where they send messages while I’m sleeping, boosting me with love and light at dawn. Once work begins it’s hard to pull away from it. By deferring the start of work, you accomplish exercise and other self-care first, and can face the day with greater energy.

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