Last week, I was in Siargao (with Jodit, my school manager at The Purposeful Creative) — and we were chilling by the beach, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and sleeping for more than 8 hours a day.  That even excluded naps.

And for the first time ever, I traveled without a laptop AND I did not check my email at all. *cue email blasphemy bells*

It was heaven in so many ways. The break reminded me of how important replenishing our body, mind, and soul really is — so that we may continue doing great work, the best way we can.

Read on below for some photos from our trip, and 3 things I’ve done to incorporate self-care in my daily routines, without sacrificing productivity or results.

Feeling incredibly recharged from our team trip to Siargao. August was my self-care month – and it wasn’t just about pressing pause because I was tired: it was about really taking care of myself: mind+body+spirit. . There were 3 things I committed to this August: Meditating every single day, working out & getting stronger, and reading a looooong list of books on my Kindle. Mind+body+spirit. Then, I capped it off with a 5-day trip to an island, sans laptop, sans email-checking. BEST SELF-CARE MONTH EVER. I feel amazing. . And now I’m back – EXCITED for the first of Monday of September, raring to get back to work! (If not a little hungover from the beauty that is Siargao, wish I could just work from there!!!) Curious: How do YOU practice self-care? Do you have any regular routines; or do you sprint for a period of time, then take a long break? #PDBchallenge . PS. Tip: Don’t wait til you’re burnt out completely (or sick) until you press pause!! Also – stay active! Exercise! Most underrated productivity tip ever 💪🏽

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Head over heels in love with this place. #Siargao . What was meant to be just a chill, relaxed week ended up – well, yeah, very chill and relaxed – but also a trip where I faced many of my fears. 😋 I jumped off this diving platform (not once, but twice!), swam and snorkeled in the open sea without a life vest or floaty (I’m deathly afraid of water & I’ve never done it before), and finally managed to paddle out on my own while surfing. 🌊 . Back in the big city: your every move should be timed, scheduled, strategic, calculated, aggressive – you can’t afford to be anything less. You’re like a string pulled taut, each stressor & deadline (and each hour spent in traffic!!) taking you closer and closer to your snapping point. . But in the face of this *amazing* beauty of an island, all you can do is throw your perfect little itinerary into the wind, shed all your city-manufactured wants & ‘needs’ & ‘shoulds’ – plop down on the sand barefooted, and pull out a whole deck of Yes cards instead. ♥️♠️♦️♣️ . Fun? Yes. Adventure? Yes. Fear? Yes. Doing it anyway? Hell. Freaking. Yes. . (All I can say is: The Siargao magic is real, you guys. 🌊✨) #Pdbchallenge . PS. This was taken with my phone camera 😱 #HuaweiMate9PH

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One of the things I’ve gotten very, very good at in the past 2 years (and I say this unapologetically) — is taking care of myself.

I don’t know how it happened — I used to be The Ultimate No-Sleep, Run-Myself-To-The-Ground Hustler.

But somewhere between a) living on an island, one block from the beach (in Puerto Rico), for about 8 months of my life, and b) getting into yoga in 2016 — my relationship with my work and my health (mental and physical) just changed. You can also say that my priorities suddenly got crystal clear.

Busy-ness used to be my badge of honor

I used to tweet and post A LOT about how hard I hustle, how crazy my work schedule is, how little sleep I was getting, and how I was juggling so many things all at the same time. I broadcasted it to the world, as if to say, ‘look at me, I’m sooooo busy and hard-working and dedicated!’

And I was accomplishing a lot, for sure. But I was barely sleeping, I was EXHAUSTED all the time, I barely had downtime, and my body and my brain were both overworked and underpaid (in all ways).

But the crazy thing is, when I started devoting more time to self-care, my productivity DID NOT go down.

Self-care and productivity are NOT mutually exclusive.
It’s not so much about doing less, so you can rest more — but it’s more about managing your focus and your energy on the tasks that actually matter most.

In fact, now that I’ve prioritized self-care: I’ve never been more relaxed in my life! And yet, this is the most productive, fulfilled, and profitable I’ve ever been.

I always thought that the number of hours you work dictate how much results you reap. But now I’m learning that it’s not in the hours you put in — it’s in the quality of your focus and your energy while you’re working.

 

3 ways I’ve incorporated self-care into my work routines without sacrificing productivity

1) MEDITATING EVERYDAY

A meditation practice has made a world of a difference in the way I work, and frankly, my personality as well.

I’ve become more mindful about the way I react to a lot of things — that includes stress, problems, mistakes, and toxic people. And that’s a huge part of our work & life: how we REACT to things.

When I get a stress trigger in my day (whether that’s horrible traffic, an annoying e-mail, bad service, or a harsh conversation), instead of pouncing on it in a very visceral, emotional, and reactive way — I’ve learned to take a beat, pause, and mindfully deal with the situation.

In short, I don’t let my day get “ruined” by external factors anymore, no matter how big or small. I decide how I react, and how I deal with them. And THAT has made the difference in my daily productivity (and happiness!).

My favorite meditation app is called Insight Timer, but also check out Stop, Breathe, Think, and Headspace. I also have a favorite meditation YouTuber, her name is BexLife. Here’s one of my all-time favorite meditations from her:

2) HAVING AT LEAST ONE HOUR OF “WHITE SPACE” EVERYDAY

I learned about the idea of “white space” from Brene Brown. She defines it as unscheduled, agenda-free time — a non-negotiable block of time that you fiercely protect on your calendar. She writes:

“Before this research, I had convinced myself that every second of white space in my life—every tiny sliver of downtime—should be utilized.

When I stopped at a traffic light, I’d think to myself, Quick! Check your e-mail. When I got in the car to drive to the bank, I strategically planned what calls I could make. I always used my time waiting in the car-pool lane to get stuff done.

It takes courage to look at why we’re so crazy busy. Yes, there’s a lot to do, but it’s more than that. The hard answer—the courageous answer—is that most of us may stay really busy so the truth of our lives doesn’t catch up with us. We’re tired. We feel scared and uncertain. And we worry that slowing down will reveal white space that is unfamiliar to us, when, in fact, it’s from that very place that we get to own the love and joy in our lives.”

One of the things I did before was pack my schedule to the brim. I work from the moment I wake up, and fall asleep to an open laptop on my bed. It was a never-ending to-do list that I could never seem to see the end of. Ever.

But now, I still schedule everything, BUT — I actually schedule WHITE SPACE in my daily list/calendar (usually in the afternoon when my brain and my energy levels are winding down). But it’s there on the daily schedule, and it’s non-negotiable. On some days, it’s just an hour, and on special days, it can go up til the whole afternoon.

I use white space mostly to read. (I recently got a Kindle and I’m in love with it.) Sometimes I just use it to lay on my bed and stare at the ceiling and think about my life. Sometimes I play and run with my dogs. Sometimes I do my laundry. Or clean out my closet. Or grab a quick snack with a friend.

But I’ve been really enjoying having that non-negotiable white space to myself, and not cramming every hour of my life with work. (*On busier weeks, I don’t get to have white space every single day, but that’s okay.)

3) SAYING ‘YES’ TO MY PRIORITIES, AND SAYING ‘NO’ TO ANYTHING THAT GETS IN THE WAY

Some people just say, ‘you should learn to say ‘NO.'” And while that’s definitely great advice, the caveat there is — you have to know what your priorities are. Not because you have to explain it to the other person, but just as an internal compass for yourself.

I believe that every NO has a flipside YES to it — for everything you say NO to, you’re saying YES to something else that’s important to you. But that means, you have to actually know what’s important to you.

Saying no can mean different things (warning: these are all difficult, especially if you’re afraid of offending people, but so very necessary):

  • Saying no to your friends who want to eat out again tonight, when you know that you’re saving money for something important to you
  • Saying no to your colleague who’s making you do his part of the project because he procrastinated, when you have another thing you’re working on
  • Saying no to an invite to an event or gathering, when you know it’ll infringe on your family time
  • Saying no to your kid when you work from home, and she insists it’s playtime during your one and only focused work hour (and finding a really good alternative for her to do instead)

For me, saying no has looked like this:

  • Saying no to partnerships and collaborations that aren’t in line with my values, or goals/priorities
  • Saying no to possible customers/clients/students, even when the money is good, if I know that it will mean added stress and pressure, working overtime, and therefore less joy in my work
  • Saying no to MYSELF when I find myself wanting to add more things to my to-do list at 6PM (tomorrow is another day!)

So: What do you find yourself saying YES to all the time, when you know it’s bringing you further away from your priorities and goals? Observe the things you say yes to. Then slowly, start practicing saying No. Start small and see how liberating it feels.

 

So those are the 3 things I’ve successfully incorporated in my day-to-day routines and schedule, that have reformed me from my Workaholic Monster ways. It wasn’t a one-time change, and neither was it abrupt – it was a slow and steady habit-building process, one day at a time.

But if you don’t start now, when are you gonna do it? When you’re burnt out and sick and just absolutely exhausted with life? Don’t wait for that to be your signal.


If you want more inspiration about starting & following through with a passion project (without losing your mind)…

I have the perfect podcast episode for you. This is from my very first episode on The Purposeful Creative podcast, and I talk all about:

  • How to stop getting distracted with too many ideas
  • What you need to determine to serve as the North Star of your passion project
  • The two types of goals you need to set before you begin any project
  • Step #4 is a step that most people skip: But it is the most crucial step if you want to create purposeful projects
  • How to avoid procrastination and perfectionism (and a side story of my own messy battle with procrastination)
  • What you can do to become more accountable and to follow through on your idea

It’s a lot more in-depth, and I even walk you through a case study based on my own experience.

Listen to the podcast episode #1 below:

It’s a really good episode, I answered 5 questions from my listeners about how to start an online business. I tackle a lot of helpful topics, even beyond pricing. If that’s something interesting to you, and you want to listen to that, you can either:

  • Press play above above listen from your browser with the embedded player
  • Or, if you’re on your desktop and you have iTunes, you can click this link and it’ll take you there. (Episode 1)
  • Or, if you’re on an iPhone – you can go to your Podcasts app, and search for The Purposeful Creative Episode 5
  • Or, if you’re on Android – you can download any podcast app, my favorite is Stitcher, and search for The Purposeful Creative and go to Episode 5.

NOTE: What I like about podcasts is that I can listen to it anywhere, any time, whether I’m stuck in traffic, working out, or doing errands. It’s a great way to learn on-the-go without having to look at your screen.

 

YOUR ACTION STEPS FOR TODAY:

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Author

I'm a teacher and creative entrepreneur from Manila, Philippines. I teach classes on leadership and entrepreneurship -- and my goal is to help mor women step up and grow into creative, confident, courageous, and more importantly, compassionate leaders.

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