If you have read this blog for any length of time you know that I deeply believe in the power of self-care.
Not only can it transform your productivity it can shift you away from the striving energy of “doing” to the receiving energy of “being”.
This is what Kathleen Ellis and I spent much of our time discussing during this month’s Productivity Secrets Interview.
Kathleen is the owner and founder of Kathleen Ellis Lifestyle Design. She has been inspiring and empowering women for over 30 years and just released her new book, Facets of Graciousness ~ Inspirations for Smoothing the Rough Edges of Life.
Julie: Let’s just jump right in here Kathleen. Give us some context for your life. What does a typical day look like?
Kathleen: Everyday is different. I don’t work a 9 – 5 job. I like variety in my day. I don’t even work 40 hours a week. I do have some constants though. I always start with quiet time and prayer. It helps me put my day in order and have the right mindset for whatever is on the agenda for that day.
Julie: It sounds like while everything is so varied you still have a few anchors that you protect to keep centered each day.
Kathleen: Yes. In addition I also make sure to carve out specific time for ‘me’ every week – things like a bubble bath, pedicure, or reading a magazine I love. This keeps me from being depleted.
Julie: That is wonderful Kathleen and I have people listening to this that are thinking, “Bubble bath? Who has time for that? This woman must be crazy.” [laughter]
I know you have a ton going on – balancing your family, growing your business, writing your book – how have you given yourself permission to take that time for yourself every week?
Kathleen: I know the price I have paid in the past for not doing these things.
When I don’t take time for myself – whether its exercising or getting enough sleep or eating well – my body breaks down and I will get sick and not get anything done.
Also I feel really overwhelmed and my whole outlook changes. Everything starts to feel like a chore. I have learned that the payoff is WAY more than the cost of the time that it takes to take care of myself.
Julie: How long did it take you to really learn to keep these practices sacred?
Kathleen: I will be 54 on Friday and it probably took me more than half my life to realize that taking that time for myself is just as important as everything else that I am doing.
I had experienced some very serious illnesses. I had to do that 3 times before I could really listen to what my body was telling me. To know that when I am feeling overwhelmed I need to stop and rest.
Julie: This sounds like such a deep commitment you have. How else do you support these practices?
Kathleen: The other thing I do to support myself is to write these self-care activities directly into my planner. If it is not in front of my face I tend to forget things.
When people are trying to add more self-care into their schedule it is important to start small. Start with 10 minutes and be dedicated to those 10 minutes. Then increase it slowly.
I learned a long time ago that I could delegate the tasks that I am not good at. If you delegate 1 or 2 things in your weekly schedule that will free up the time you need to nurture yourself.
Julie: Delegation is act of self-care and in and of itself. So tell me, what are the tools or systems you use to keep track of everything?
Kathleen: I love my paper planner. Everything goes in there. I have a yearly calendar that I hang on the wall to highlight the different time commitments so that I can see them at a glance.
I also have a to-do list that I use each day. I am not one of those people that puts 35 things on my list, I pull out the 2 or 3 really important things for each day to focus on.
Kathleen: I am a very visual person. So another thing I do for project planning is to hang a piece of foam board on the wall. I divide it into sections depending on how many categories I have and then I use sticky notes to write my different tasks on.
I put one task on one sticky note. This way I am able to arrange them by priority. And move things around as I need to. I used this process to organize while writing my book.
It just really helps to keep everything right in front me and focus on one step at a time.
Julie: This is very cool. It could be a very helpful process for those that get frustrated by planning. This would be a great way to make it a fun, creative exercise. Thanks for sharing.
If you were to give advice to have someone that has a ton going on and wants to take their organization and productivity to the next level what would you offer?
Kathleen: You have to see it. You have to get a picture of what you want your life to look like. How you feel. Vision board or dream it.
Take the time to dream big – bigger than you dare – this really helps to let loose some of the things inside of you.
And be patient with yourself. It takes time to change and grow. Longer than we think it does. Give yourself time – we didn’t develop these habits overnight and we won’t shift them overnight.
Julie: That is wonderful Kathleen. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with the Profound Impact Community today.
Click here to learn more about Kathleen’s programs and to order her new book Facets of Graciousness – a collection of quotes combined with a journal to inspire you every day.
How do you carve out time to take care of yourself each week? Be sure to share your thoughts below.