I joined a group of amazing women on a multi-day trail run recently. Besides the joy we find in running, and being out in the beautiful Wild Coast, I am sure most of us will admit the pure bliss of the adventure was being away.. being away from work, family, responsibilities. The time away gave us gaps to recharge, to think, to set goals, to focus on ourselves.

The concept of self-care, or rather the importance of it, may seem a rather abstract term for busy working women where time may not be a luxury in this fast-paced world that we live in. But actually, research has proven that self-care is critical to avoid getting to that burnout level (that many a successful business people, I’m sure, can attest to). Taking time out for yourself can seem the antithesis to maximising your productivity levels but in actuality, it could be the very thing you need to do to reach and execute your goals to the best of your ability. If you are struggling in this very area, here are some tips to help you break away from it all:

Make it a point to set aside time for yourself

Make it a point to set aside time for yourself even if just for an hour a day. Imagine that – a whole hour dedicated to you alone where you get to revel in what brings you joy and live in the moment. It could be anything from crafting, gardening, and baking to meditating or journaling or even playing video games or colouring in if that’s your thing. Many successful entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates for example, wholeheartedly endorse the concept of breaking out of the norm to concentrate on oneself for a moment – setting your mind free of the burdens and worries that we all face, to experience some much-needed downtime of rest and rejuvenation.

 Focus on your overall health and fitness levels

Also, make it point to focus on your overall health and fitness levels. Much has been said about the negative effects of living sedentary lifestyles but it cannot be overstressed how valuable daily exercise is to your mental and physical health and even your productivity – take it from Richard Branson who says that exercise is one of the main driving forces of what made him as successful as he is today.

Accepting the importance of saying ‘no’ 

Learning to say ‘no’ when you are feeling stretched to the limits is OK to do. If life is about finding balance, then saying ‘no’ to things that overwhelm you will help you find that perfect balance we’re all after. In this instance, if it sounds too easy to be true, that’s because it truly is!

Planning ahead before you rush ahead

Taking the time out you need will give you the clarity and energy you need to approach new goals with enthusiasm rather than anxiety. Another ingredient of productivity is goal setting. Take the time you need to envision what you want to achieve. As they say, creativity and the thinking process can’t be rushed, so use this opportunity to plan for the future. If we are not challenging ourselves daily, how can we ever expect ourselves to grow, or discover what we’re truly capable of if we’re not reaching for ‘something more’.

If anything the pace of living is not showing signs of slowing down any time soon, and if we do not stop to pause and recalibrate we may find ourselves falling down the rabbit hole of worry and anxiety, and ultimately burnout and fatigue. The recipe for success may consist of several factors, but take care not to neglect the most important one of all – YOU.