The Practice of Putting Yourself First

by Tara Fitness

Its all well and good to say:

‘I’m going to start taking care of myself’.

But that’s not enough. It’s like saying you want to lose weight, but not planning to exercise and eat better. If you don’t create a plan, it’s just lip service.

As my old Army Sergeant used to say:

‘Prior preparation and planning prevents piss poor performance’.

So, throughout this post, I’m going to teach you my top three strategies for managing my workload.

3 Strategies for Managing Your Workload

We’re starting with work-based strategies because work is the problem. Your business is taking up all your time; your business is preventing you from looking after yourself. I could give you all the self-care tips in the world; but if we haven’t fixed the underlying issue, you’re not going to put them into practice. Let’s be honest; you’ve probably tried that already. I don’t need to watch you on the merry-go-round, and I’m sure you’re quite ready to jump off it. So, let’s get started.

The three strategies I’m about to teach you, focus on three areas:

  • Identifying and prioritising what’s important to you (outside of your work);
  • Utilising your time more effectively; and
  • Reducing your anxiety.

Dream Week

I learned of the ‘Dream Week’ concept from Jon Goodman of Providing you use your calendar regularly, it’s an essential tool in managing your self-care.

The Dream Week is as the name suggests – your ideal week. Set it up as follows:

  1. Open a week in your calendar.

  2. Add the most important things in your life. Now to be clear, theseare NOT work tasks. I’m talking about date night with your partner, yoga class, kids swimming lessons… whatever is important to you. For me, my basics are cooking dinner every night (yes it’s in my calendar), exercising every day at 2 pm and blocking off my entire weekend to spend it with my partner.
  3. Then add the most important things in your business. When I say most important, I mean the high-value tasks that propel your business forward and put money in the bank.

  4. Then, if you’re keen to limit email and social media as I do, schedule a time to check these accounts.

And there you have it, your dream week. But it doesn’t stop there. You see, the major benefit of the dream week is you’ve planned it to be your ideal week. It should be balanced, enabling you to do the work you need to do, while still having a life.

From here, any time you’re asked to do something, check your dream week. If it’s a meeting worth having, and your dream week is free, schedule the meeting. But if, say, someone asks to schedule a meeting at 8 pm on a Wednesday… ask yourself if that meeting is really important enough to skip date night? If it’s not, ask to reschedule or politely decline.

Your dream week should serve as your reminder of what’s important, stopping you from getting caught up in your business 24/7.

One Touch Principle

This is the simplest strategy on this list, but I’ve found it to be the most difficult to implement. The One Touch Principle suggests you deal with everything when you first touch it, so you don’t have to touch it again.

The One Touch Principle is most relevant for smaller tasks like checking email or social media notifications. How often do you open your email inbox, scan through the messages, then toss them into the too hard basket? I used to do it all the time until I implemented The One Touch Principle.

Now, I set aside time to work through my email inbox and during this time; I respond to emails as required. If it doesn’t need a response or it’s not that important, I delete it. Every time I open my email inbox, I process it to empty. Because I deal with my email in its entirety, I now only check my email once per day. I use the same strategy with my social media accounts.

This principle doesn’t just save time because you deal with tasks only once. A study at The University of California, Irvine found it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus after one interruption. So even checking your email at the top of every hour, you’re struggling to focus for literally half of your day.

Could this explain why you don’t have time for self-care?

To-Do List

In his book ‘The Power of Less’, Leo Babauta describes his daily to-do list. Every evening he writes down his top 3 priorities for the following day and leaves the list on his desk for the following morning. When he arises the next day, there’s no decision making or aimless wandering about the Internet. He simply sits at his desk and gets to work on his first task.

Since implementing this strategy, my productivity has skyrocketed. More importantly, my anxiety has diminished. Every night when I go to bed, I don’t worry about what I have to do tomorrow because I have a plan. Every afternoon when I finish work, I don’t feel like I should have done more, because I’ve completed my work for the day.

This simple change removed the stress of the never-ending to-do list that used to hover over my head, tapping me on the shoulder every time my mind was idle. This simple strategy is the one thing that’s allowed me to relax when I’m taking time out for myself.

Go Forth and Prosper

Being a business owner does not mean you must be a slave to your business. Your business should enable you to live a better life, and if it’s not doing so, it’s up to you to change it.

These are the strategies I used to become a healthier entrepreneur. So, implement these three strategies to free your time, your mind and your life.

10 Commandments of a Healthy Entrepreneur

Once I broke the shackles of my business, I committed to putting myself first. I created these 10 commandments as my guiding principles to ensure I never become an unhealthy entrepreneur again. I’d like to share them with you, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Enter your details and tap ‘download’ to get your free copy of ’10 Commandments of a Healthy Entrepreneur’ so you can begin your self-care journey today. Plus join hundreds of others in getting self-care and startup tips sent to your inbox every week.

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