When you take an airplane, airline personnel specifically tell you that, in the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on before you help anyone else. The rationale is simple--you can't come to anyone's aid if you pass out. But all too often in business, leaders forget this principle, denying themselves even basic needs like sleep and sacrificing themselves to try to do right by their employees.
So be honest with me here.
When's the last time you really listened to that voice in your head that said, "I need..."?
Are you the only one on your plane that still can't breathe?
I'm going to assume it's been a while, and that you're gasping. But that can end today. These are all simple, time-crunch-friendly ways to ensure you don't lose yourself in the business shuffle.
- Leave for the office five minutes earlier so you don't flood your commute with road rage.
- Take a five minute break every 30 to 60 minutes (ala the Pomodoro technique) to do Yoga, meditate, read, listen to a favorite track or otherwise reconnect to your body and let your brain downshift.
- Connect some of your business goals to personal rewards, such as buying yourself a massage if a big deal goes through.
- Eat lunch away from your desk without any multitasking.
- Keep notifications on your phone, chat client or desktop turned off as you work so you're not distracted or pressured as you work.
- Create a to-do list or agenda and stick to it. Be realistic about the time necessary for tasks and don't overschedule yourself. If you finish early, stop instead of trying to fill the time left.
- Share your calendar well in advance to avoid confusion and stress.
- Use reminder apps instead of trying to commit everything to memory.
- Commit to checking in with at least two employees every day. It helps monitor progress, yes, but it also helps you connect and stave off the loneliness that those at the top so often experience.
- Say no more often. (Yes, really.)
- Write down some accomplishments or things you are grateful for at the end of the day.
- Take a catnap.
- Wrap your hands around your coffee cup or tea. Take the time to close your eyes and respond to the warmth, the scent, the texture of the container. Breathe.
- Use a joke of the day calendar or subscribe to a funny daily email or text.
- Drink more water.
- Compliment others. You always can feel good about recognizing the positive in people around you, and the more you see others smiling and being happy, the easier it is for you to smile and be happy, too.
- Change your password to reflect a goal or remind you of something that makes you happy.
- Embrace whatever you're feeling in the moment. Your full range of emotions is part of who you are.
- Personalize or organize your space in a fresh way.
- Discard, recycle or donate anything in your office that you no longer have a need for. A clean space gives you a fresh canvas for creativity and aids efficiency.
- Ask for the project, responsibility, sponsorship or mentorship you want.
- Dress in what's honestly comfortable.
- Text or call a friend or loved one on your break.
- Write down the practical steps necessary for your goals before you make a judgment about whether an idea is "good" or "bad".
- Have a professional look at the ergonomics of your space or treat yourself to something like a lumbar pillow or heated seat pad.
- Bring along a separate pair of slippers or shoes for under your desk.
- Keep a light sweater or wrap over your chair so it's easy to stay at just the right temperature.
- Walk around the building and get some sun and air on your breaks.
- Ask yourself what your immediate priority is and leave the rest. When that priority is done, ask again.
- Keep the number of people in meetings small.
- Use photos of those you love as a revolving screensaver.
- Pack a reasonable portion of your favorite desert with your lunch.
- Shut your door.
- Truly clock out when you clock out. No work email, no calls, nothing.
Being kind to others is a no-brainer when it comes to getting ahead in business. But loving yourself can't get buried along the way. Start here, and then if something else that's safe inspires you and feels right, do it. You're worth the five minutes and small gestures of compassion.