This year, make yourself a priority 

minute read

Last Updated September 28, 2023


Leah Reid, Education Team Development Managerlindsay malcolm, education services coordinator

The new year is a time for reflection, evaluation and goal setting.

Do you find yourself brushing that off and thinking, “With all of the meetings on my calendar, when do I have time to reflect, evaluate and set goals for the year ahead?”

You’re not alone. To make room for the meetings on our calendars and tasks on our lists, it’s no wonder the first thing that gets double-booked is the time we should be taking for our mental health.

Our challenge to you today: Make you a priority! Do not set aside that important work-on-yourself time to make room for meetings and tasks.

How to get (and use) your you time

Before you read any further, block some intentional time on your calendar right now—even just an hour or two—that’s solely for you. (Go ahead, you can do it now; we’ll wait for you.)

Once you’ve done that, make a pledge to yourself that this time will be non-negotiable, and that you’ll show up for it with integrity.

Now we get to the good stuff: how you can use this time to intentionally reflect, evaluate and set goals without distractions. To make it easier, we’ve given you some questions and guidance to get you started.

First: Reflect.

Use the first part of this intentional time to reflect on the meetings you had in the past year. Ask yourself:

  • How many necessary meetings did I have? Who were they with and what were they about?
  • How many unnecessary meetings did I have? Who were they with and what were they about?
  • Which meetings were great, and why? What was the status of mental health at the time? What were the outcomes of these meetings?
  • Which meetings weren’t great—and why was that so? What was the status of mental health at the time? What were the outcomes of those meetings?
  • Can I reduce the number of meetings?

Next: Evaluate.

Depending on the meeting’s purpose, duration, structure and the participants’ psychological health status, meetings can have a variety of consequences:

  • Attention and focus: Meetings can require sustained attention and focus, which can be mentally demanding and lead to fatigue or mental exhaustion if they’re too long or poorly organized. On the other hand, engaging in focused work can also be mentally stimulating and help to improve attention and concentration, if you have the mental capacity to do the work.
  • Decision-making: Meetings can involve decision-making or problem-solving, which can stimulate the brain if they are productive meetings, with actions and outcomes. On the other hand, they can be mentally draining and lead to burnout if decisions aren’t regularly made and problems aren’t solved.
  • Social interaction: Meetings provide an opportunity for social interaction and collaboration, which will foster a sense of connection and community if everyone in the meeting is attentive and interactive. On the other hand, this interaction can be divisive and exhausting if attendees aren’t mentally healthy, cooperative or receptive.
  • Stress: Meetings can also cause unnecessary stress if they’re unproductive or involve conflict or difficult decisions. On the other hand, they can also reduce stress if they’re productive and produce solutions to tough decisions or conflict.

Last: Set goals.

Take a look at your reflection responses and level them with the evaluation points above. Set one, two or even three goals that relate to your calendar and your meetings, with the desired outcome being an improvement in your mental health and well-being. You can achieve this improvement by:

  • Deleting unnecessary meetings. Find ways to communicate without a structured meeting. Can this be a Teams or Slack interaction? Can you shift the meeting to virtual instead of in-person, or vice versa?
  • Structuring meetings effectively and ensuring they’re productive and engaging to maximize the potential benefits. Plan for the meetings beforehand and ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved.

And most important:

  • Taking time for yourself. Set aside time to take breaks between meetings and tasks. Go for a walk, call a friend or family member, listen to a podcast, or simply just stare out the window and daydream! Give your brain a break to decompress and revitalize before you dig into the next meeting or task ahead of you.

If you do only one thing for yourself in the new year, block regular, intentional time to reflect on the effects your calendar is having on your mental health. Continue to evaluate and rework your goals, if necessary, with the biggest focus being prioritizing you. Remember: Self-care is not selfish!

For more ideas and discussion about your mental health and meetings, Rootworks members can log in to watch our Winter Culture webinar here.

How does this translate to the workplace? Here’s a blog post about how to create an irresistible firm culture.

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