How to set boundaries
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Self care. The thing all of us know we should be doing, and yet… it’s also the one thing there never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish!
Recently, I got the chance to reconnect and chat with Minda Zetlin. As a successful author, speaker, and journalist, she is an expert on career self-care. Working under the philosophy of laid-back leadership, Minda helps entrepreneurs and business owners find self-care within their busy schedules, instead of trying to push to add yet another thing to their lengthy to-do list.
Her most recent book, Career Self Care: Find Your Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment at Work, is available through her publishing house, New World Library.
Cue Your Mind
Before writing her book, Minda was creating about 24 articles per month for Inc. Magazine — a magazine for new, aspiring, and seasoned entrepreneurs. With such a heavy workload, she knew that dedicating time to a full-length book would be a struggle.
In the interest of her sanity and having a somewhat balanced schedule, Minda chose to cut back on her workload in order to prioritize her book.
But the balancing act didn’t stop there. One of Minda’s biggest pieces of advice for any entrepreneur thinking of setting off on the author journey?
“Change your environment.”
With her regular writing requiring a sort of fast-paced, off-the-cuff working style, she knew that her book would require something different. So, she changed some of the decor on her desk, lit a scented candle, and put on baroque music each time.
These cues set off a chain reaction that signal to our brain that it’s time to switch gears. I’m actually reading about this habit in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and the science behind it is fascinating!
Be Conscientious With Your Time
Each day, Minda starts the day with a plan. She uses the Pomodoro technique to plan out her day and estimate how long each task is going to take her.
The Pomodoro technique is a type of time-blocking where you work on one specific task for twenty-five minutes, and then take a five-minute break. After four thirty-minute blocks, you take a fifteen-minute break.
I absolutely love this method! It’s a great way to keep our brains focused, while also giving ourselves time to rest. One of the things I always caution people against is just constantly working in the name of getting things done. Our productivity generally tops out at ninety minutes, so giving yourself a break every twenty-five minutes is a great idea. I promise, if you take a break, you’ll come back refreshed and recharged!
For each task on her list, Minda estimates how many Pomodoros they will take, and then gives herself a reality check. If the amount of tasks on her list is unrealistic, she triages and prioritizes.
Additionally, she doesn’t always strictly stick to the twenty-five-minute cycles. Sometimes when you’re working, you get into a state of flow and want to keep going. That’s totally okay — as long as you don’t make it habitual!
So often, when we think of our careers, we think of hustle. On the flip side, when we think of self-care, we tend to think of bubble baths, massages, and candles.
But why not think of both of these things at the same time? In fact, Minda’s philosophy is that you can have a great career AND make yourself happy without ignoring one or the other.
The Human At the Center
When you want so much out of life and your career, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of working harder and longer than everyone else. But when you do this, you’re inevitably going to make yourself unhappy… in the pursuit of something you thought would make you happy. (Anyone else been there? I sure have!)
And on top of that, the more you don’t let up on yourself, the worse you are at your job! In fact, there was even a Stanford study that proved you lose efficiency and productivity after 50 or more hours of work.
Our brains require us to step away from our focus on something to foster creativity. This is why so many people get their best ideas in the shower or on the hiking trail!
Self-Care In An Unsupportive Environment
When you’re working for someone else, it’s not always possible to find an environment that is fully supportive of career self-care. In fact, many larger companies might be on the opposite end of the spectrum, expecting you to buy completely into hustle culture.
So what can you do if this is the work environment you find yourself in?
One possibility is to discuss this with your higher-ups and management. Another possibility is to switch jobs or industries if you can.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to your boundaries and self-awareness. There are, of course, so many factors that affect this, including race, gender, and age.
It’s not always possible to find total career self-care at work. But if you can give yourself grace and strive for one small step every day, you will find that balance eventually!
One Small Step
So, you’re ready to start your career self-care journey. But what can you do today?
One of Minda’s favorite tools is journaling. Whether you write it in a journal, on your notes app, or record it as a video blog, the important thing is to get your thoughts out.
Write down what you accomplished that day (not what you didn’t do). Remind yourself of all the great things you did!
If you want to stay in touch and continue learning from Minda, you can explore her column on Inc. and her website!
In this episode, we talk about:
- How to cue your mind for focus
- Why taking a break is actually good for getting things done
- The Pomodoro technique (what is it + how do you use it?)
- Minda’s top tips for career self-care
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
- Minda’s website
- Career Self Care: Find Your Happiness, Success, and Fulfillment at Work
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- The Pomodoro Technique
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