Learning When and How to Put Yourself First

by | January 27, 2015

As your life fills up with things that you have to do for work, family, and friends, it is very easy to lose sight of yourself in the shuffle. When you are responsible for so many different things that all seem so important, you tend to put yourself last in an effort to keep up with the demand.

The drawback to this way of thinking is that you may be sabotaging yourself without knowing it.

If you are stretched too thin and begin to get stressed out, your work and social responsibilities will inevitably begin to suffer. By trying to do too much, you will eventually be able to do even less than if you had just taken on less from the very beginning.

Reading The Clues

The best way to know if it’s time to make yourself a priority is to stop and look for the clues. Having a hard time focusing and being easily distracted by things like Facebook when you should be working is a big clue that you’re nearing your limits.

Another big clue is your health. Has the quality of your diet taken a big nose dive lately? Do you have trouble sleeping or do you find that you’re often just not feeling that well for no obvious reason? These are also big indicators of a problem.

Finally, a big clue is your mood. If you find that you are more irritable than normal or if your family begins to comment on your sour mood, then that’s another clue that you need to re-prioritize your life.

There are always going to be some things that you have to do or take care of, but there are ways for even the busiest people to make small changes that will allow them to begin putting themselves first.

Know Your Limits

It’s tempting to keep taking things on and to tell yourself that you’ll figure it out when it comes time to actually do the things you’ve committed yourself to. It’s important that you acknowledge what your limits are and that you be willing to say no when you’ve reached those limits. People will be much happier to know upfront that something cannot be done than if you say it will be done and then aren’t able to follow through. If you know your limit and don’t take on more than that limit allows, you are far less likely to be stretched too thin.

Block Time On Your Calendar

Blocking time on your calendar can serve many purposes. You can block time to focus on yourself and do something enjoyable that will help recharge you for the rest of the day. Taking time for things you enjoy rather than your life being all about your responsibilities is crucial for your well being and overall productivity.

You can also block time when you are not available to others or for meetings. You can then use this blocked time to focus on the things that matter most to you and your goals rather than the things that matter to others. If you are able to schedule consistent blocks of time for you to focus on your own needs, others will learn when they can and when they cannot come to you.

Re-Prioritize and Delegate

If you have been very busy for a long period of time, when you finally stop and look at the things you spend your time on, you will probably discover that there are many things that you can remove from your to do list or delegate out to someone else. You do something often and long enough, you may just still be doing it because it has become a habit. Removing or delegating out these types of responsibilities will maximize the time you do have available and allow you some additional time for yourself. Delegating out to your assistant or learning to lean more on your friends and family are both good options for lightening your load.