Space is precious! Finding space in our day is a challenge. We are booked with meetings, phone calls, reports to write, and board packets to prepare. We arrive in a hurry in the morning, get our coffee, and go to work. Many of us don’t even bother with lunch. At the end of the day, we cross items off the “To Do List” and head home. Just to start all over again tomorrow.
Good leadership necessitates that we take care of ourselves. Research indicates that a few minutes of self-care throughout our workday improves our cognitive ability, manages our blood sugar levels, and improves our mood. Overall, our daily work and relationships are much easier with a few minutes of self-care.
I interview and coach leaders all over the country and observe how they manage their days. Here are a few tidbits that help them be successful. Maybe these will work for you.
Take breaks: Believe it or not, you will get more work done if you take breaks. Give your mind and body time to renew. Do something different. Get out of your workspace and walk around, find natural lighting and fresh air, drink a glass of water, or eat an apple. In addition to a lunch hour (away from your desk) take at least two 15 minute breaks a day. You will have more energy at the end of the day, be more productive, and in a more positive mood.
Schedule Staff Meetings in mid afternoon: More people say yes to midafternoon meetings because, hopefully, they are better prepared and know the meeting won’t drag on so late in the day close to the end of the workday. Give your day a few minutes of space by changing meetings to 50 minutes in length. Start them at 5 minutes past the hour and complete by 55 minutes past the hour. So, start at 3;05 p.m. and finish by 3:55 pm. Use the last 5 minutes to wrap up agreed to commitments, action, and timeframe. Be on time! If you start late, end on time.
Keep healthy snacks handy: Plan your food ahead and bring healthy snacks so they are readily available. A favorite snack in our office is sliced apples with peanut butter. Mixed nuts are great to keep around as are frozen fruit and protein powder to mix in our kitchen Bullet.
Walk around meetings: Start a new tradition by taking a walk when meeting with one or two others. Moving the body increase blood flow and energy, which feeds our creative juices. Our clients get excited about this new practice of meeting and we constantly hear “These are the best meetings!” Look for space and action that increase the ability to be in better relationship. A simple walk goes a long way!
Control the email urge: On average, we spend 28% of our day on email. That is a lot of time. Turn on the email app twice a day and get in and get out! Take that extra time to develop other leaders or take a break!
Start finding those spaces in your day when you will practice self-care. As a leader, be an effective role model about how others can be as a leader.