Taking time out – how to build it into your leadership practice

Taking time out – how to build it into your leadership practice

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Taking time out to focus on yourself doesn’t come natural for a lot of leaders.

There’s usually something else or someone else who needs you more, or you simply don’t have the time.

I know from supporting many leaders that you may be hesitant to put time aside for yourself, as you may feel guilty. So, you plod on, thinking you’ll get round to it. But the reality is …you don’t!

Your diary is really busy.

It’s full of back to back meetings and ‘stuff’!

There’s hardly a space when something isn’t booked in, as you rush around at 100mph.

It leaves you with a lack of energy and feeling like you’re not making a difference, despite all your hard work.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes to be a great leader. It means you’re not putting yourself first.

You need some time for you. Time that’s scheduled in, rather than wait until you have to force it in, because of some sort of crisis or burnout.

Well, you can start right now, with my three ‘R’s framework.

It’s a 3 step framework I use with my leadership clients, and I believe should be part of every leader’s toolkit.


Taking time out – the three ‘R’s framework: reflect, recharge, refocus

Taking time out – reflect  

Reflection is an incredible way to gain insight into what’s working for you, and what’s not. Too often as leaders, we say we don’t have the time to reflect. Yet just five or ten minutes a day is enough.

Reflecting can help you understand where you’re at currently, and what can be done differently. Self-reflection allows you to understand what’s important to you. And when you know what’s important to you, you can prioritise much more effectively.

How you reflect is often quite personal, but it doesn’t have to take a long time.

My own reflective practice consists of just three simple and short questions I’ve been asking of myself and others for over 20 years:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how do you think you performed/delivered?
  • What do you think you did well?
  • What do you think you need to do differently?

Why not give it a try?

You can even set a timer for 3 minutes and spend just one minute on each question.

Taking time out – recharge

I can’t stress how important is to make time for yourself. If you’re under a lot of pressure, it’s easy to fall into the habit of working or thinking about work all the time. But that eventually leads to burnout. Pretty soon you feel tired, stressed, and basically frazzled.

When you’re caught in that state of mind, it can seem like a waste of time to take time out for yourself. But the funny thing is that setting aside time for self-care will lead to you becoming less stressed, and a stronger leader.

It’s time to make self-care a priority.

What that looks like can be different for different individuals. Some suggestions include:

  • Commit to taking your full lunch break away from your desk every day
  • Make time for a walk in nature
  • Commit to regular gentle exercise such as yoga
  • Set a time every evening when you’ll switch off your work phone and emails, and stick to it
  • Book time off and visit somewhere special to you
  • Make time to socialise with your friends

Think of it as an investment that will pay dividends in the future.

Taking time out – refocus

Once you’ve reflected and recharged, it’s the perfect time to refocus.

You’ve identified what is and isn’t working for you.

You’ve invested time in self-care to give you the energy to make any necessary changes.

Now, it’s time to look at what you want to focus on.

  • Are the things you’re spending your time on making you feel energised? Or are they draining your energy?
  • Have your priorities shifted? If so, do you need to revisit your goals?
  • Are you spending time on the things that really matter?
  • Do you feel in control of your journey? If not, how can you regain control?

Building a regular practice of reflecting, recharging and refocusing helps you check-in with yourself and look after your wellbeing. Remember you can’t be a great leader, if you’re exhausted.

That’s why it’s so important to take regular time out. And when I say time out, I mean time away from the chaos and pressures of work, to reflect, recharge and refocus on you.

Time for you – make one small change this week

I’m challenging you to make one change this week to build time out into your leadership practice.

It can be as small as signing up for the ‘Leadership Breather’ newsletter, granting yourself uninterrupted lunch breaks, or investing in yourself by buying one of my workbooks which will help you reflect on yourself.

The change I most recommend?


If you don’t already make time for daily reflection; this is my recommendation.

It really is one of the habits that makes a difference in my client’s leadership practice.

If you can only commit to five minutes per day, that’s OK. Set a timer and for those few minutes, look back on what has gone well during your day, and what you would do differently.

If you can commit to 1 hour this week, get a copy of one of my workbooks and start to reflect on yourself. Believe me …they’ll make you think!


Want to take some time out to reflect, recharge and refocus on you?

Start getting your regular dose of leadership tips and inspiration with the ‘Leadership Breather’ – encouraging you to give yourself a breather and take 5 minutes for you.


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You can’t be a great leader, if you’re not a great you.

Andrea helps you focus on leading yourself first, so you can be a great leader. Start getting your regular dose of leadership tips and inspiration with the ‘Leadership Breather’ – encouraging you to give yourself a breather and take 5 minutes for you.

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