It’s amazing how unnecessarily we push ourselves. Always running to the next appointment or saying yes to events we know we should skip for time and sanity’s sake.

In the end, your mood and your productivity suffer when you run yourself ragged. Resentment builds up, your energy plummets, and then maybe you even beat up on yourself for not setting healthier boundaries.

I recently went to San Francisco for a little vacation and got back to NYC at 11pm. I normally would have just gone to work the next day. But I took the day off in advance just to be nicer to myself, and it was a gesture of radical self-care for me.

The “old me” would would have pushed myself to go to work after that long flight. But I’ve learned to give myself a break to be able to relax and rejuvenate. Not because it’s a luxury, but because it’s a necessity. If I would have gone to work I would have been cranky and been thinking about the millions of to-dos I needed to handle when I got home. My work would have suffered and I would have felt more frazzled after a relaxing vacation.

You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are to treat yourself a little nicer. Here are some little ways to get big returns by being your own best friend:

1. Ignore your phone.

I do this all the time … well, most of the time. Unless someone has an appointment to talk to me at a particular time, I do not answer my phone. Period. My time is valuable and when I pick up the phone for every call or text, I get distracted from what I was doing and I’m thrown off my game. Because I’m aware of this, I simply don’t do it.

If only answering your phone for appointments seems unrealistic, then maybe find some windows during the day when you choose not to look at your phone. Above all, I recommend clearing some mental space for yourself with this simple change. By focusing on one task at a time, you can treat yourself to a more relaxed day.

2. Write your to do list the night before.

It doesn’t matter how tired you are, you’ll never be as rushed in the evening as you are in the morning.That’s why I use the last 15 minutes of the day to set myself up for the following one. Whether it’s at work or at home — just giving a little extra attention to setting up your day will make for an easier start. I always make a list of my to-dos for the following day before I leave my desk at night. Always. Without fail. Then that way when I come in — I can just look at my roadmap and start working. I’ve done the heavy-lifting already.

3. Let someone else do it.

Most of us have this obsession with trying to do everything ourselves. We like to do all the heavy-lifting in our lives, most likely because we’re trying to prove we can.

But the truth is, there’s really no need to prove yourself, especially not to yourself. There’s no shame in asking your writer-friend for some help editing, or in occasionally sending your laundry out when you’re super busy. After all, you are only one person.

4. Take the scenic route.

The quickest route home is not always the nicest. Especially if it means getting stuck in traffic or trying to cram onto a packed train. Every once in a while I like to take a slightly different route home or remind myself that there’s another train right behind this one. It may take a little bit longer, but it helps to break up my routine and give me a fresh perspective on things.

5. Go to bed when you’re tired.

We are always pushing ourselves to get the most out of everyday and often neglect the important things, such as going to bed when you’re tired. It sounds so simple, but I’ve been there myself too many times: I’ll say “just one more thing,” and before I know it, it’s midnight. Do yourself the much deserved favor and get the rest you need on a daily basis. Even if you think you’re losing time at night, you’ll be so much more productive the following day. Try it once and you’ll be hooked, I promise.

6. Give up.

No, I don’t mean lose interest or “quit.” In fact, quite the opposite: it’s time to put less pressure on yourself in order to practice self-care! In short, sometimes it’s OK to let things slide.

Every now and again I have something that sits at the bottom of my to do list. It hangs around for week after week and I keep saying I’m going to do it. But the truth is I’m probably not. When that happens I give myself the gift of giving up. I cross it off my list and move on to things I will actually do. If you’ve got something that’s been on your list for a while, just cross it off already and stop letting it make you feel like a failure.

Paula Rizzo is an Emmy award winning television producer and founder of the productivity site She’s also the author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed. Get a free chapter of the book by signing up for her newsletter here.


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