I don't know about you, but I have a lot on my plate. As a result, I'm infinitely grateful for technologies that offer me reminders and alerts that keep me on track. But part of staying on track is taking time for myself. Not hours of meditation or anything. The important but little things, like making sure I sign up for that continuing education class I spotted, finally update my professional headshot or actually taking a work break every 90 minutes. If you already use Google Calendar, here's how to make it into a tool that ensures you take care of yourself in the same way--it works great with a zero-based calendar approach.

  • Make a list of things you need or want to do for yourself. Finally reading a journal article, pre-packing healthy lunches to eat at work, finally catching up with a colleague you admire--it's all fair game. Even if it seems mundane, if it's something you know you should do or that your mind keeps coming back to, jot it down.
  • Open your Google Calendar. Pencil in as many items on your list as possible as events (not reminders). Keep your sleep hours reasonable! Use the "Add description" section for the event to add notes or URLs to make the task easier to finish.
  • Set notifications for each item you add to your calendar. I like to schedule a notification 5 to 10 minutes before the event, but find what works for you. You also can schedule multiple notifications for the same event to make it less likely you brush off the alerts. Setting up repeating events will ensure you get notifications for the same task in the future.
  • If appropriate, invite others to the event. This is a fantastic way to gain some accountability and encourage others toward goals and self-care, too.

Once your setup is finished, Google will ping you every time you should be doing something related to your dreams or self-care.

Being realistic, you might miss some of the events you set. But the idea is to keep track of how many times that happens. Every time your phone dings or your laptop pulls you to the Calendar in your browser, it's a reminder not to be a jerk to yourself. Every time, if you brush the event aside, you should ask yourself why you put yourself second. And if you consistently miss a ton of your personal events, it might be time to reevaluate the objectives you're going after, or at the very least, come up with a plan for how to go after them in a healthier way. Friends, family members and even professionals can help you figure out the best direction for you and unravel what might be holding you back from good self-respect.

Now, I'm a huge believer in positive reinforcement. So set a goal for yourself with this. For example, if you keep your personal events 90 percent of the time for a week or month, maybe grab yourself a fancy coffee or take a day class.

When you respect yourself and feel positive and happy, you mirror that to other people who are around you. You lift them up, inspire them more easily and connect with real richness and meaning. You become a better leader. So commit not just for yourself, but for those you can influence, too.

Published on: Jan 24, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.