Become a highly effective leader by implementing a “me first” schedule.
We hear it all the time, if only there was more time in the day. All too often we're running at a crazy pace, trying to meet the demands of other people and outside factors, and we can’t get everything done. What if you could take control of your own schedule and create a system for success?
Some of the most effective and admired leaders I know are ruthless with their time. They manage to a personal schedule that allows them to be equally accessible, engaged, productive and balanced. It all starts with a ‘me first’ philosophy. By creating a system where you schedule time for the most important tasks, you are ultimately reducing stress, minimizing interruption and delivering higher quality results. And surprisingly, by doing this, you will give more authentically of yourself to others.
Below are 10 ideas for creating your own ‘me first’ structure so that you can feel like you earned time back into your day:
1. Create a morning routine that includes you time. This might mean reading the paper alone while enjoying a coffee, listening to music in the shower, or going for a jog. Start your day by doing something that will bring you joy so that you have the energy to do everything else.
2. Carve out time to meditate (or just to think). With so many free apps available now, guided meditation is easily accessible and the mental health benefits are enormous. Allow yourself time to just be so you can think problems through.
3. Learn while you commute. Use your commute time to stimulate your mind. Download an interesting pod cast or an e-book and listen in transit. Gain time to learn and grow by using this potentially otherwise wasted time for your own development.
4. Schedule One-to-Ones. Stay connected with your team and reduce the number of ad hoc discussions by scheduling regular one-to-one meetings. Create an opportunity to bond with and demonstrate care for your team while also mitigating on-going interruptions.
5. Be unavailable. This may seem radical to some but it’s ok to be unavailable to focus on important, independent work just as it’s ok to be unavailable if you are in a meeting. Improve productivity by controlling your impulse to always be available.
6. Open email twice a day. Schedule specific times in the day to check email. To reduce temptation outside of those times, keep your email closed or, at a minimum, close the new mail notification pop ups. Eliminating this on-going distraction will ensure you provide yourself with focused production time.
7. Collaborate. Collaborating with others can help ensure you’re working on the tasks you’re most skilled at and delegating those that you are less comfortable with to others. Doing so will help you work faster and with more confidence.
8. Maximize your out of the office time. If and when possible, maximize your time out of the office by scheduling multiple appointments back to back and starting/ending your day off-site. Being more intentional about how you set up your day will help you reduce, or even eliminate, unproductive driving time.
9. Take a break. It’s recommended to take short, 5 to 15 minute breaks every hour. Scheduling these in and then actively removing yourself from your work-space is essential. Go for a quick walk, stretch, practice deep breathing or get a glass of water. Taking time to re-charge is critical to your cognitive thinking, emotional well-being and overall energy levels.
10. Focus on important. All too often we let urgent win over important when it comes to how we use our time. By also looking at what’s important, you are removing yourself from chaos and focusing on strategic goals and the bigger mission. Not only does that help the company long-term, it will leave you feeling more fulfilled.
Taking time for you is not only okay, it’s essential. By creating disciplined structure in your schedule, the entire organization benefits. Most people want a leader who is positive and passionate. Putting time and energy into your own personal deliverables and taking breaks to recharge your batteries will bring a new sense of vitality to your work and it will amplify your impact on others.