By Dr. Harshi Shingra
The hectic, busy lifestyle of an entrepreneur can quickly catch up to you if you’re not careful. With mental health struggles becoming increasingly prevalent in a high-pressure society, it’s no wonder that so many are turning to self-care routines over sacrificing their health to grow their business. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder, take a tip from emergency healthcare and spend valuable time where it’s most needed first. Triaging your to-do list is a way to improve your mental health and get the break you need to bounce back and recover while finding valuable peace of mind.
Tips for triaging your to-do list
Whittling down your to-do list may seem impossible, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, business leader, or director of your household. While it may seem next to impossible, taking the time to decide what’s important and what’s not is a must to prevent spiraling out of control or feeling overwhelmed with basic tasks. Start with these steps:
- Remind yourself what’s most important. Your health and mental wellbeing trump chores, tasks, and some work-related responsibilities. You’re unable to live your life or put your best foot forward if you’re struggling with your mental health.
- Take a deep breath. Practice breathing exercises whenever you feel stressed and overwhelmed at the prospect of taking items off your to-do list.
- Rationalize your thought process. Remember why you need to take a break and a step back from your daily responsibilities.
- Reaffirm your decision. You know yourself best. There’s no one better to decide what’s important and what can wait.
What can be outsourced?
One thing to consider is which projects can be outsourced to someone else. Remember, just because you don’t do it, doesn’t mean it won’t get done. Delegating less important tasks to someone else will get them off your plate so you can focus on bigger fish.
So find employees or family members who can handle smaller projects, like sending emails or folding laundry. The more tasks you see get done by others, the better you’ll feel offloading projects you don’t have time to do yourself.
What can be moved to another date?
It’s easy to feel like items on your to-do list have to be crossed off right now. But not everything has such a strict timeline. You probably have tasks that can be pushed to a later date. Reschedule non-essential appointments. Put off chores that can wait. Accept that sometimes, taking time for your mental health means rearranging your calendar.
If you have plans to update your business’ phone system, have your oil changed, or hit the post office, remind yourself that plans can change. And the best part? No one will care. You’ll upgrade your phones later. You’ll buy the stamps you need online. And your car can wait a week for new oil. If you refuse to take the time to tend to your mind and body, you’re heading for burnout. Compared to that, delaying a few tasks is no big deal.
Can you schedule breaks?
Everyone needs a break. Without fun and rest, life is boring, dreary, and bleak. Setting time aside every day to enjoy some fun and relaxation will trigger natural dopamine releases you need to stay happy and actually look forward to your work.
Whether you work from home or have a busy work schedule in the office, make time to take a break and have a little fun every day. Some ways to sprinkle more joy and fun into your daily schedule are:
- Walking or biking to work
- Listening to music or your favorite podcast on your commute
- Cooking a meal with your significant other or children
- Meditating and spending a few minutes outside in the fresh air
- Catching up on your favorite television show
- Playing a board game or video game with a friend
- Exploring somewhere new, even if that means ducking into a new shop or restaurant during your lunch break
Benefits of creating time for yourself
When there’s a lot to do, creating time for yourself may sound counterintuitive. But it’s an essential ingredient in your mental health. Setting aside time for yourself is an easy way to explore what drove you to build your business in the first place so you can rekindle your passion for it.
Taking time for you can also help you:
- Discover yourself again: You’re more than just a business owner, mother, or father. Maybe you’re a hiker. Or a huge fan of mystery novels. Perhaps you’re quick with a pun or great at giving advice. When you make time for yourself, you can get in touch with yourself again and discover who you are outside of work and family life.
- Feel relief: Sometimes, all we need is a mental break to relax and feel refreshed and ready to get back to work.
- Explore hobbies: Life isn’t all deadlines and meetings. It’s all the things you actually love to do, watch, read, and listen to. Focusing on hobbies is a great way to find what makes you truly joyful in life.
- Improve focus and clarity: Unwinding and relaxing can improve your focus and clarity. Even if you don’t feel like you need a break, your mind will thank you for the opportunity to unplug and reset.
- Improve your mental health: Taking time for yourself improves your mental health over time. When you get enough downtime, it’s easier to stay focused and goal-oriented when you return to your work and home responsibilities.
Triaging your to-do list to focus on your mental health is essential to prevent feelings of anxiety. Practicing meditation and mindfulness and deciding what’s important and what can wait will help you attack your work with renewed purpose and passion.
Dr. Harshi is a licensed medical doctor with specialization in Pathology. She is currently employed as faculty in a medical school with tertiary care hospital and research center in India. She has vast experience of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work. She has strong interest in medical content writing and reviewing. She also has several publications and citations in indexed peer reviewed journals.