Self care and your future self

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There’s a quote floating out in the world that I think can be traced back to Sean Patrick Flannery: Do something today that your future self will thank you for. I admit that it sounds a little cheesy at times but I remember it at least once a day. Sometimes I ask myself: How will I feel about this in a few hours, tomorrow, next week, or later this year. I try to leave that situation in a way that my future self will be grateful.

Some ways that I’m kind to my future self.

  • Back when I would commute to my office for work, I would plan my outfit the night before so that I wouldn’t scramble the next morning trying to find something to wear. If something needed washing, I would make sure it was in the dryer before I went to bed. And anything that needed ironing would be finished before I closed down for the night. Nothing irritates me more in the morning than trying to find something to wear when everything is in the dirty laundry or needs ironing.
  • I am still pumping breast milk for Baby Z. Since I’m working from home, I have a habit of leaving my pump parts in the sink until the next session. Sometimes I tell myself I’ll wash them before my next pump session but more often than not, I end up pulled into an email or meeting and forget about them. By the time my next pumping session roles around, I’m usually running late and need to start pumping as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than walking into the laundry room to see that I need to clean and sterilize my pump parts.
  • I used to have a habit of driving my car until my gas Inevitably I was late for a meeting, stuck in traffic, or worse, miles from the nearest gas station. These days, I try to maintain half a tank of gas in my car at all times so that I never have to worry about running out of fuel during a stressful situation.

I’m going to get geeky for a minute. In business, a bottleneck operation is a process or step that limits an entire system’s capacity to produce at its optimum level that results in clogging productivity, profitability, and growth. Think about a factory that makes widgets. A conveyor belt runs down a factory line and at each stopping point, a different piece is added to the widget. The bottleneck is slowest point in that process. Unless you optimize for that bottleneck (make the slowest point go faster) then you’ll never speed up the process to its optimal state. Taken a step further, a factory can speed up every other point in the widget making process but if the bottleneck isn’t addressed, the production times will never go faster. In some cases, you could even create a backup.

For me, doing something that my future self will thank me for is often like finding the bottleneck in my life and making sure that I do everything to increase my productivity by clearing that choke point. It doesn’t matter how organized I am with my pumping schedule. If my parts aren’t clean, I’m backed up for another 10 minutes washing and waiting for them to be sterilized. I think it goes without saying that the last thing I have as a new mother is time to waste.

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