In an effort to be more productive, leaders are putting in more hours than ever before—yet many have learned that working longer hardly makes them more productive. Actually, the opposite can be the case. When you work yourself ragged, not taking the time you need for your own physical and mental health, it causes you to be less energized and less creative. You can spend more time at the office, and get less work done.

The best way to prioritize your productivity isn’t to push yourself harder and harder. It’s to practice self-care—ensuring you have the stamina and the fresh perspective you need to do meaningful work each day.

To put it a little differently, self-care isn’t lost productivity; it’s an investment in productivity. But this begs the question: How should you be taking care of yourself in order to remain productive?

Self-Care and Productivity

  • One thing I recommend is to get organized. Take a day to get your desk de-cluttered, all your files in order, and your calendar structured in a way that’s useful to you. Eliminate the time and the stress required to fumble around for papers and documents before you start a project.
  • Develop healthy routines. This means going to bed at the same time each night—early enough that you’re getting your eight hours! It means factoring exercise into each day, even if it’s just a standing appointment for a brisk morning walk. And it means scheduling time for three healthy meals each day.
  • Make sure you have a creative outlet in your life—whether it’s keeping a journal, writing songs, drawing, or knitting. Schedule time each week for creativity—an important factor in keeping your mind agile and open.
  • Get the social support you need, too. Make sure you have people you can confide in when things aren’t going well at work, or when you’re just feeling burned out. You don’t want to surround yourself with “yes men,” but you do want to surround yourself with encouragers!

I hope this is a helpful framework for you as you consider what it really means to be a productive person—and how it all starts with taking care of your own physical and mental health.

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