How to Prioritise Yourself. What Successful Leaders are doing for Self-Care at Work

Be Your Own #1 Client

If you want to be more strategic, be able to switch off that busy brain of yours, and enjoy life a bit more!…

To make all of this happen, sooner, you absolutely have to start treating yourself as if you were your own number one client – you must learn how to prioritise yourself over the needs of others.

What I mean by this is, you know the most important client(s) you have? The ones for whom any meeting is non-negotiable. You wouldn’t dream of shifting or moving any meeting with them in the calendar. Nothing would ever take priority over them (sometimes even your family)?

You need to start doing this… for your own needs.

Case Study: Dave’s Week – Before

When I met my client Dave, a senior leader and board member of a global engineering firm, he was leaving his house at 6am, getting back about 8pm, Monday through to Friday. He was often in back-to-back meetings. Not only that, but when we did some online sessions,
I noticed he had notifications pinging in from everywhere, so even when he was in our sessions (or doing any other type of work), he was never doing just the one thing – his brain was constantly being pulled in all directions, never able to control his focus on one singular thing.

He never had any time to pause, reflect, relax, have a break even. There was certainly no time to focus on any long term or future projects and ideas – indicating a lack of boundaries between work and personal life. This also bled all the way into his Saturdays. There’s a subtlety here. Dave says that his family is important to him, and yet,he spends so little time, let alone quality time, with them. The message he sends to his family is: my work is more important than you.

And he argues, ‘Let me just finish this one thing… and then I will focus on you.’ But of course, that rarely happens, as he often prioritises work over spending time with other people.

Dave’s Week – After

Through our work together, Dave’s working week changed dramatically. This is Dave working from home.

One of the quickest wins Dave had was to shift his belief that he had to be in the office five days a week. He was formerly extremely busy micromanaging his team and spending too much time on the day to day operations of the business– which we soon put paid to! Because we shifted that, and I challenged him to do this, he started working from home Mondays and Fridays.

That instantly cuts out all of those hours he’d previously spent commuting (In Dave’s case a total of eight hours). Not only that, but he made Monday’s his non-negotiable thinking time. This meant no meetings, no interruptions, and all notifications taken off his computer, nothing – unless it was an absolute emergency.

What he also put in his calendar as a non-negotiable, was breakfast with his family – recognising the importance of family time for his mental health. One big thing that Dave was really worried about, at 48 years old and with two kids under ten, was living a life of guilt and regret – that he’d missed most of their childhood. This was something that was happening when we met and something he really wanted to change – and he did.

Another big shift for Dave, because he was really out of shape, unfit, and did not look his best (by his own admission), was that he started really taking care of his exercise, nutrition, and diet – they became a core number one client activity for him.

Again, Dave says health is important, but the reason he is not as healthy as he aspires to, is because he is too busy. The way he was also able to help himself start doing that and spending time on that, was that he was starting to upskill his team. He was learning ways to delegate, attend less meetings he didn’t really need to be in, and even push back on the colleagues that had been doing work for.

Our work was heavily focused on clearing out all of the counter productive micro-managing and day to day operations work in the business. As you’d expect, he fell off the wagon, but built on those learnings until being his own #1 client became a reality.

Added Bonus

Know that when you start doing this, you’ll get the knock-on effect of your family being much happier with you – for being around more (and experiencing increased happiness when you are).

Reportedly, my clients’ families love me – the common theme is they get back their husband or wife, and they’re much less stressed too. They’re much nicer to be around. Also the kids are a lot happier, a lot better behaved funnily enough – that’s the typical response.

Activity: Your Turn

OK, do you agree that learning how to prioritise yourself as your #1 client is a good idea? If so, why? What do you secretly like about this hack? If you agreed that you should make yourself your #1 client then what would you want some of your #1 client calendar appointments to be? (For example, for Dave Mondays and Fridays he worked from home, breakfast and dinner with his family, rowing, the gym and lunchtime light exercise. Again, he blocked out those ‘appointments with self’ into his calendar… and made them non-negotiable… just like he would treat his #1 client.)

This is the whole point of this powerful hack. This hack works but you will not know unless you try it. Most of my clients wonder why they hadn’t done this a lot sooner!

This is an extract from my best-selling book Screw Meditation! How to Switch Off a Busy Brain and Enjoy Life!

Read it for my top 5 hacks on how to be more strategic and effective as a leader.