Self-care isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity, and it is the key to improving your productivity.

Being productive doesn’t just mean putting your nose to the grindstone. It means doing the right things at the right times. Creating time for what you love. Learning how to focus on your most important work, consistently.

But none of that focus  can happen if you aren’t taking regular care of yourself.

Here are 10 self-care tips for your most productive day.

#1. Get enough sleep.

When you skimp on sleep, it’s not just your health that suffers, but your  efficiency and productivity suffer, as well. When you feel groggy, tired, or just low on energy, you are not operating at full capacity. Try to get a good night’s sleep (at least 7 hours) in order to perform at optimal capacity.

#2. Workout in the a.m.

Working out in the morning can help raise your energy and power you throughout the day. In the short-term, exercise produces better executive function and memory recall. Starting your work day after exercise can result in better productivity in the first part of your day.

#3. Meditate before you start your day

Meditation isn’t just for relaxation. It can help you clear your mind and get focused. If you’re crunched for time, try meditation in the morning using the 3/3/3 rule. Move your body for 3 minutes, sit in silence for 3 minutes, and spend 3 minutes thinking about what you want to accomplish that day.  

#4. Schedule breaks

You’ve scheduled the meetings and necessary tasks for the day. But have you scheduled your breaks? Scheduling breaks can help you from feeling like you are constantly racing against the clock. Allow some buffer time in between working on your big projects. Use that time to step away from your desk and re-energize.

#5. Talk a walk outside

Taking a walk, especially in nature, is a great activity to do during your breaks or when you’re feeling stressed. A nature walk can refresh your mind and body, and even improve your mood.

#6. Turn off your phone

Try it, even if just for an hour. Turn off your cell phone, shut down your email, and stop the social media notifications. Focus only on the task you want to complete. (For added relief, try leaving your phone off on your breaks as well!)

#7. Say no

Saying no helps keep you focused on your most important work. Once you’ve identified your priorities, you must say no to everything else. It might feel uncomfortable, but honoring your time is the only way to make progress and keep your energy focused.

#8. Do something nice for you

In addition to taking your regularly scheduled breaks, true self-care means doing something nice for yourself. Whether it’s reading your favorite book, relaxing outside in the sunshine, getting a massage or a facial, find one thing you can do — today — for yourself.

#9. Nourish your body

Even if you get enough sleep and work out, it’s not a guarantee you will feel energetic. The foods and drinks you consume contribute to either raising or depleting your energy. To stay alert and focused, try drinking lots of water, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and cutting back on sugary, processed foods that cause your energy levels to spike and then crash.

#10. End your work day

Determine a cut-off time for your work day. After this time, shut down or silence your work calls and emails. Treat this time as your own and don’t let yourself be drawn back into work activities.

Self-care is an integral part of productivity because without taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of anything else. When you pay attention to your self-care, you are better equipped  to attack your day with your highest level of energy.

I’d love to hear from you: What ways do you practice self-care?

This post is the third in a series of posts focused on improving your productivity and mindfulness. To get more posts like this delivered to your inbox, sign up here.