Balancing Productivity & Self-care

Balancing Productivity & Self-care

Balancing productivity & self-care

Be more productive!  Make time for self-care!  If you’ve spent any time on social media or reading magazines lately, you’ve probably had both of those phrases drilled into your head.  But…how can you find the time to do both? We’re going to answer that question, as well as setting up some realistic expectations for how balancing productivity & self-care really looks.

 

You’ve probably felt it before.  That neverending push-pull of knowing you need to get things done and also knowing that you need to take care of yourself.  It’s hard to balance…how do you decide when you’ve been productive enough, even if there is still more to do?  How do you decide if you’re taking care of yourself or just avoiding things that need to happen? Which is more important, being productive or taking care of yourself? How do you make those decisions?

This is something that I’ve personally struggled with, oh, my entire life or so.  Being productive has usually won, in the past. Getting stuff done comes first, and taking care of myself is an after-thought…if there is time.  But that mindset is something I’ve been actively working on and I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned along the way.

How to balance productivity & self-care

1. Schedule in time for YOU

If you tend to be a slave to your to-do list, actively scheduling time for fun and self-care is the best way to actually make it happen.  You already schedule in time for the tasks that HAVE to be done, so try also scheduling in time for the things you NEED to do. Time for doing things that are good for YOU, like exercise, eating well, and hobbies that soothe and recharge.  Give self-care time importance in your day, instead of fitting it in only after everything else is finished.

2. Don’t overschedule

I have a tendency to waaay underestimate how long things will take.  So, I’ve pulled back…like, a lot. Instead of trying to get 47 things done every single day, pick out the 3 most important.  Make sure those get done! Then let the rest fall into place.

Fair warning: If you have a habit of overscheduling, It. Will. Feel. Strange.  And a little wrong. Especially at first. But when that happens, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Did the most important things get done?  Can the rest wait? If the answer is yes (and it probably is), remind yourself that everything is fine and you’re just breaking an established habit of being overly busy.

3. Self-care = productivity

Taking time for yourself…it feels like a slow down.  Like you’re not making progress. But by making the time to take care of yourself, mentally, physically, and emotionally, you will actually become MORE productive.  Giving yourself room to breathe and recharge will make the time you spend getting things done so much more effective. You’ll be focused, energized, and ready to tackle what needs to be done, instead of slogging your way through.  Try it!

4. Reframe how you think of productivity

For the longest time, in my mind, being truly productive meant getting more and more (and more) done each day.  If I wasn’t doing something productive, I was just wasting time. But it’s really about quality over quantity.  Just getting things done doesn’t mean that you’re doing them effectively. And being productive does not mean working until you have nothing left to do.  Aim for quality productive time instead of trying to fit more and more in.  Getting fewer things done, but done well, will save you so much time in the long run!

5. Stop giving in to “productivity guilt”

Just because you’re not doing something productive every minute of each day, that doesn’t mean you’re being lazy or avoiding responsibilities. Let go of the guilt. Let go of the “shoulds”. Take the pressure off yourself and remember that just because you have the time and energy to be doing something “productive”, it doesn’t always mean that it’s the best way to spend your time.  Accept that it is absolutely okay to take time out, just for you!

6. It’s okay to just stop, even if everything isn’t done

This is where scheduling comes in. And I STRUGGLE with this. Not getting everything done DOES NOT mean that you failed.  More than likely, it means that you’ve overscheduled. Unless it’s absolutely imperative that something gets done right now, it’s okay to decide that you’re done for the day and just stop. For a little more help with this, check out this post.

7. Identify your peak hours

We all have times of the day that we’re naturally more productive.  And times that we’re consistently less productive. Identify when those peak productive hours are in your day and use them to your advantage!  

For example, my peak productive hours are between 1-5 pm.  I am not a morning person and trying to get quality work done first things feels like trying to run through deep mud. During the afternoon, I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders, so I use that time to get the important tasks done.  

Once you’ve identified when your personal best hours are, use them for the important, tedious, or most energy-consuming tasks!  Save the mindless tasks for your less productive hours…or use that time for some good, solid self-care!

8. Shake up your routine

If each day leaves you feeling out of balance, try revamping your daily routines.  What can you move around? Try out a new routine for a few days or weeks and see if a different schedule works better.  It may take a few tries, but it won’t take long before you find a routine that works for you!

9. Understand that you may have to let a few things go

It’s pretty likely that you’re going to have to give a few things up.  Most of us have gotten into the habit of packing our days so full that we simply have no time left.  

At one point in my life, I wrote down all the things that I would like to get done each day…work, household chores, etc.  I put down a realistic time that each task would take and added them up. The result? 14.5 hours a day! And that didn’t even include time for eating, showering, or relaxing.  No wonder I was feeling rushed, frustrated, and behind schedule all the time! So I picked a few things to let go of. Delegated a few others. And have a much calmer life because of it!

I bet there are a few things on your schedule that you can easily give up.  Some things may be harder. And some are non-negotiable. If you need a little help with this process, check How to Prioritize Your Day in 6 Steps

10. Create distinct “spaces” for productive time and self-care time

Find some ways to signal to yourself that this is productive time and that is self-care time by setting up specific locations or signals for each. 

For example, if you work from home, try to pick one area to work in. When you are in that area, you know that it’s time to be productive.  If you tend to relax in the living room, don’t fold your laundry on the couch.  

Even if you have a small space, you can use signals like changing the lighting or burning candles when it’s time to shift from productive to self-care time. 

By doing this, it will be easier to remind yourself which mode you’re in at the moment.

 

And one final note on balancing productivity and self-care: 

Being balanced doesn’t mean that every single day of your life will feel balanced.  Each day may not (and probably won’t) be balanced evenly between productivity and self-care. Balance happens on a much larger scale.  Some days will be busy. Some days will be easy. So instead of trying to force each day to be the perfect mix of getting things done and taking time to relax, aim for an overall balance in your life.  Know that you’ll have busy days and accept them.  But also even those days out by making time during other days to take care of YOU!

 

How do you balance productivity and self care?

Ways to recharge your mind, body, and soul

Ways to recharge your mind, body, and soul

Ways to recharge your mind, body, and soul

Feeling a little rundown and drained?  Need a few ideas on how to recharge your internal batteries?  Here are a few ways to recharge your mind, body, and soul!

 

Why didn’t you charge your phone?”  My husband asks me this constantly these days.  It’s not that I don’t charge it regularly, it’s just that I need to use the darn thing All. Day. Long.  It is constantly in use at work, then for personal stuff and this blog after work. It doesn’t get a break until later in the evening.

 

I was thinking about this the other day and I realized that I’m treating myself the same way.  Sure, I take time out during the day every now and then. Yes, I do my best to live a calm lifestyle.  But, since I tend to be a highly productive person, I also run and run and run during the day until my battery is…low.  

 

So, maybe it’s time to take some advice from that annoying little “low battery” warning I hear in mind head from time to time and focus on recharging during the day.  If you can relate to this feeling, I’ve come up with a little list of a few ways to get your mental and physical energy back when you’re feeling a bit drained.

Here are a few ideas for recharging your mind, body, and soul:

For Your Mind

Does it ever feel like your thoughts are going a mile a minute?  Or that your brain is so jam-packed with ideas that you can’t seem to untangle them into anything that makes sense?  Here are some ideas to help your poor, overworked brain slow down and give all your thoughts a chance to process.

Journal

Journaling can be SO useful in relaxing and recharging your mind.  How you do it is completely up to you, whether it’s a structured daily record of your life or a simple outpouring of any thoughts that happen to be passing through your mind.  

For me, the second version works better.  I simply sit down and write my thoughts as they happen, with no order or structure at all.

The reason journaling works so well, in my opinion, is that once you put your thoughts to paper, you’ve given them a new place to live.  You no longer have to keep recycling the same ideas, questions, and thoughts, so your mind has a little breathing room.

I recommend getting a good journal or notebook, something that makes you excited to write.  I like these:


 

Zone out for a while

If you tend to be an overthinker or an “over-doer”, taking some time to just sit and NOT do can seem difficult at first.  But giving your mind a break, with something a little mindless or repetitive, can help you recharge. Take a break and watch a movie, read a book, or work on a craft project.  Even if you find yourself still dwelling on a thought or problem that’s been on your mind, it will give you time for your thoughts to settle a bit and process. Taking a break is a very healthy thing to do, even for doers!

Focus on your breathing

This one is more “in the moment”, but if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just a little frazzled, stop what you’re doing and focus on your breathing. I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed, I find myself taking short, shallow breaths.  Taking a minute to stop what I’m doing and just take some deep, calming breaths leaves me almost instantly feeling rebalanced and more in control. It may help you to set a timer for a few minutes or use an app like Breath Ball or Headspace. Take a little time to just breathe.  In and out.  

Practice mindfulness

Sometimes you need to slow down in order to speed up.  Practicing mindfulness is a great way to slow down and recharge your mind.  It not only gives you a chance to stop doing and start noticing what is around you, how you are feeling, and simply observing life, but it can also increase your focus, make you happier, and reduce stress.  You can learn more about mindfulness here.

For Your Body 

I try not to let myself get too busy or overwhelmed by life, but it happens.  And when it does, one of the first things to be neglected is taking care of my body.  It usually doesn’t work out very well. (I was sick for 3 whole weeks recently!) If you can relate, here are some simple ways to recharge your body.

Drink water

60% of the human body is water.  Needless to say, water is crucial to your health. It has SO many benefits for our health and wellbeing!  (You can read more about that here.) And it’s such a simple thing to do, but sometimes the simple things are the hardest to remember.  

To remind yourself, try out a measured water bottle like these:

Take a walk

Exercise is also important, but it doesn’t have to mean hours at the gym or regular yoga classes (even though both of those are great things to do).  If you feel like you need to wake up your body a little bit and get the blood flowing, take a quick walk around the block or through your local park.  The movement and fresh air will leave you feeling recharged and re-motivated.

Eat good food

Ever fall into the “I’m starving, but I don’t have time to eat” trap?  Me too. It’s so easy to grab some fast food or chow down on those cookies hiding in the pantry in those moments, but it’s not always the best idea.  Instead, keep healthy and handy options stocked in your kitchen or switch out the burger for some veggies and protein. Your body will thank you for making good food decisions by rewarding you with more energy!

Take a nap

Most of us don’t get enough sleep.  If you do, that’s great! But if you’re feeling a little physically run down, take a nap.  It’s not lazy, I promise! A quick nap can definitely recharge your body and give you more energy. Don’t forget to set an alarm though… *wink*

For Your Soul

Sometimes that need to recharge is a little deeper.  You feel physically okay, but something just feels…off.  When that happens, it may be a little warning bell that you just need a good, internal recharge.  Here are some ideas to help you rebalance.

Spend a little time alone or some time with friends

This one will depend on what truly works for you.

If you’re an introvert like me, spending some time completely alone is a great way to recharge those internal batteries.  There can be a lot of “noise” from the world and interacting with people during the day. For introverts, “peopling” can be an energy drain, so schedule in some alone time to recharge. Taking a little time to be alone and simply process will boost your energy.

If you’re more on the extroverted side, though, you may need to the opposite.  Time alone can leave you feeling dull and restless, while being around other people and interacting leaves you feeling energized. If that’s you, schedule in a little social time.  Call up some friends for dinner or a meetup!

Take a nice long shower

Is there anything better than a nice, long, hot shower?  Jump in, lather up, and stay there until the hot water runs out!  You’ll feel much more relaxed and rejuvenated afterward.

Laugh

They say laughter is the best medicine and I don’t disagree.  Watch something funny, call up an old friend for a chat, go see a comedy show. Do anything that makes you laugh out loud!

Indulge in something

We all like a treat now and then, don’t we?  Buy your favorite chocolates, treat yourself to a nice dinner, use the fancy soap.  Indulging isn’t for every day, but it can be a great way to recharge and give yourself a little boost when you need it!

Most importantly, be sure to take time out and do whatever works best for you when you hear your own little “low battery” warning going off.

How you do recharge when your batteries are a little low?