“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” -Sydney J. Harris
Rest is the new hustle. Self-care. Treat yo’ self.
Anyone else hear these phrases and then recoil with guilt?
I’ll tell you, I do, because as much as I know the importance of rest, space, taking time off, self-care…I also have a dirty secret. Sometimes I hustle and pick an extra hour or three of work over that self-care time.
I like to reason that somehow these rules don’t apply to me. I’ll take care of myself after I finish my work. There’s a little voice in me, that voice that wants to push me hard, that whispers, “Self-care is for sissies. You’ll rest when you’re dead.”
Anyone else been there?
And what about those times when you really do need to hustle? Those times when you feel more manic than zen?
As much as social media may tell us a different story, life rarely happens in balanced proportions.
We all have those times when it feels more like a sprint than a marathon. I’m in one of those zones right now. But self-care and rest are definitely not for sissies. We need those moments of calm even more when we’re in the middle of a schedule-storm.
Here are some of my go-to strategies when life is in overdrive:
- Sleep. Nothing will kill your productivity, brain function, mood, and relationships faster than lack of sleep. Ask me how I know. If you think this is an area you can cut from, consider this: sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars each year. (Read more from the Sleep Doctor here.) When the volume in your life is dialed up, make sure to turn the sheets down and commit to quality sleep. Hustle, yes. Sleep deprivation, no.
Commit to a streamlined morning routine. You might think now is the time to toss out extras like a morning routine, but now is the time to double down on these focusing habits. In as little as five minutes in the morning, you can train yourself to face the day with clarity, focus, and the ability to respond instead of reacting. Many of the most successful people swear by their morning routines, and they definitely get their hustle on. If you don’t have time for a full-blown hour of power (a la Tony Robbins), set your alarm to give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes in the morning. Avoid technology. Yes, this includes social media and emails. Practice a moment of gratitude. Then, set your intention for the day ahead. (Join me for a free 7-Day Morning Ritual Challenge .)
Set one goal. Ask yourself at the beginning of the day, “What one thing can I accomplish today to move me closer to my overall goals?” Then tackle this item first. This one question creates focus. Crossing this item off your list first gives you momentum for the rest of the day.
One thing at a time. I know how tempting it is to multitask. It feels so darn good. When life is moving fast, it feels like the logical solution, but our feelings are lying to us. Research shows we're only able to focus on one cognitive task at a time, and we can lose up to 40 percent of our productivity when we multitask. Instead of multitasking, take care of yourself by batching your work or working in focused, twenty-minute sprints.
Take guilty-pleasure breaks. These have sparked my creativity and revived me during those longer stretches of work. Set the clock for as little as fifteen minutes (or an hour if you can carve out the time), and take a guilty-pleasure break. What are some of your guilty pleasures? This should be something completely unproductive and unrelated to work. Bad tv, fluffy magazines, a catch-up phone call with a good friend. The more “guilty” and less productive the break, the better. This allows your mind actual time off. There’s also something about taking the time do something “guilty” that can reenergize you, spark new ideas, and give your work new perspective.
What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself when life speeds up? Let me know below! I'm off to go take a guilty-pleasure break!