Four Simple Steps to a More Sustainable Professional Life
In the words of Beyonce:
I dream it, I work hard, I grind-‘til-I-own-it.
The “have it all” mantra for professional women was so last decade. After scrolling through your Instagram feed, you have probably seen captions of professional women working through lunch and posting their fifteen-hour work days followed by #hustle.
The “workaholic” mentality is becoming a never-ending race to hit that next raise, get the next title change, or drive yourself crazy to hit that next milestone and finally feel fulfilled. Today, that has changed and we are focusing on living a more sustainable lifestyle.
The word “sustainable” is tossed around more often than the salt shaker on the kitchen table. It seems like everyone has “stuff” going on - their nine-to-five, a side hustle, balancing a socialite lifestyle of evening events, fitness, dating, and more.
As you know, it builds up to a pretty packed schedule that is challenging to manage. After all, we have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce and need to implement a few strategies to ensure we’re making the most of our time without risking burnout.
The keys are simple and powerful for professional women looking to reach new heights of a sustainable lifestyle.
1) Efficiency is key.
I get it, we’re always in a time crunch. It’s not about how much time we have, it’s about how well we use that time.
When you are stretched thin and not operating on a 10/10, think through your to-do list and determine which are the most crucial for success in that moment. Streamline the process and get smarter with your time.
Pro tip: Even if your team has a set process (the kind that has been in place for years), do a routine performance diagnostic test. Don’t be afraid to offer a new perspective or a streamlined process to benefit the entire team.
2) Get comfortable saying no.
We all feel like superwoman, although there may be days that we left our cape at the dry cleaners. It always feels awesome taking one item off, but ten things immediately flood in.
As Arianna Huffington says:
Say no without resentment and yes without regret.
Only commit to what you have the time and headspace to do.
[Related: How to Confidently Say "No" at Work]
3) Put the phone down.
We live in an “always on” culture where colleagues text and e-mail us at all hours expecting an immediate response. Don’t worry, you can still be out of reach without being out of a job.
Unless you’re expecting an important e-mail, carve out 30 minutes each day to check your e-mail two to three times per day. It’s too easy to have your entire day eaten by constantly checking and responding to non-urgent e-mails.
Additionally, pick your “on hours” by setting boundaries to when you stop checking e-mails at night and when you re-boot the next morning so you can truly sign off and be present. Don’t worry: If there is an emergency, they will know how to reach you.
4) Stop cancelling your downtime.
Doesn’t it sound nice to make yourself a priority? Doesn’t it feel even better when you follow through?
No matter what “fire drills” pop up, don’t be tempted to push aside your personal time to crank out work. Whether it’s an evening face mask or a regular spin class – put it on your calendar! Just like you wouldn’t cancel that fourth-quarter board meeting, you shouldn’t cancel on yourself!
Having a full-time job can be insanely busy. Try throwing in a side hustle, fitness, family, friends and extracurriculars…oh, and that thing called self-care. Give these four attainable steps a try and they will bring you huge dividends in your mental health, physical health, relationships, and personal satisfaction.
Being busy is not a badge of honor, and running in fifth gear is not sustainable and usually leads to burnout. Today, being busy does not result in getting stuff done. Living a sustainable lifestyle is all about starting small and building from there.
Remember those crash diets that fizzle out after the New Year? Yeah, we’ve all been there, but they're not sustainable. Sometimes we assume our habits are set in stone. Take a mountaintop view of your life and determine what changes need to be made to make your life easier.
Amanda Cotler is the Director of Operations for Accel Lifestyle, an ethical/sustainable fitness apparel brand with a globally patent-pending anti-bacterial fabric. She is part of the leadership team for Ellevate Houston, where she manages the chapter’s finances.
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