Not too long ago, I found myself wondering if taking time for myself would burn bridges with people I’d established working relationships with. Even when it came to friendships, I’d once believed that if I took a day off or canceled an RSVP then the person I’d committed to would be furious with me. Until one day, I got to the point where I had to tell myself it didn’t matter what they thought.

The time came, where I honestly had to care a lot less than I already did and learn how to make time for myself. You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Well it’s true, so here are a few very strategic steps to make sure your cup stays full in the midst of your busy schedule.

1. Schedule “Me Time”

I’ve come across people who think this is a funny or outrageous idea. But I don’t understand why. We schedule everything else in our lives: every conference call, every meeting, every social media post…. So why not schedule a self-care day. This is honestly the first step in making sure you take time for self. Take a look at your monthly schedule and find a day or two out of the month, or if you’re able to, a day a week, where you can completely disconnect and pour into yourself. Block off the day(s), and set a reminder to help you remember that the day is coming. Don’t move it around, don’t cancel it just because something comes up (unless it’s an emergency), keep your scheduled “me time.”

2. Plan the Day

Take some time to actually plan what you will do on this day. For me, I typically focus on something I never get the opportunity to do while tending to all of my other responsibilities. That could be reading a book of my choice, going shopping, taking myself to lunch, getting a massage, or SLEEPING 😆. The day could also be a combination of all of these activities. I highly recommend that if it’s an out-of-the-house activity, you set an appointment for it. You’re more likely to actually follow-through with doing the activity if you’re sort of obliged to be there.

3. Get Stuff Done

Okay, this is a very important step in the process after planning your self-care day. You have to make sure that you’ve met any deadlines or completed any work that needs to be done prior to your self-care day. It is the worst thing ever to have a day planned and you realize that you have a major project due in the days immediately after and now your self-care day becomes a work-from-home day. Or you spend the whole day anxiously trying to map out a plan to get it done after the day is over without feeling stressed or falling even further behind on other tasks. Don’t do this to yourself! Plan ahead and see what requires you’re immediate attention and could possibly interfere with the relaxation of this day and get it out of your way!

4. Enjoy Your Day

Step 4 ties into Step 3, along with a few other tips. Make sure nothing can interfere with your day, once it comes. Complete Step 3, but also communicate with those who typically require your attention on a regular basis: your spouse/significant other, your children, your colleagues or staff… Let whoever you need to, know that you’re taking a mental health day and focusing on yourself. Secure a babysitter, if necessary (this goes back to Step 1 – schedule the day then schedule a sitter, if you need one). Let your significant other know that you need them to step in or step up and take care of the house for that day, or even just a few hours (if you choose to not do a full day). Put your work email on a vacation response setting, automatically letting clients and customers know you will respond to their inquiries upon your return the next business day. If you’re like me, you can completely unplug by putting your phone on “do not disturb” and taking the day away from social media. All of this will allow you to completely engulf yourself in yourself, and will keep the outside world from imposing on your time.

I hope these steps allow you to find the time for yourself that you may not even know you’ve been desiring. We get so caught up in passionately pursuing our purpose in life, and it’s so rewarding that we sometimes forget to take a step back and rejuvenate our own spirits so we can continue inspiring the world. Go ahead, right now, pull out your calendar and plan a day for just you! I know I am about too!