Are You a Jacquie?


C-suite executive at a government agency

Jacquie is a busy executive with multiple competing priorities and stakeholders to manage on a daily basis. Her schedule doesn’t allow for much flexibility, and work demands often see her working on weekends.

Jacquie sees exercise as mindfulness time, that’s part of maintaining her own health and wellbeing. Something akin to that airline saying ‘put your mask on first’ if you’re to lead others.

I can’t be a good leader to the team if I don’t ‘put on my own mask first’.

Jacquie’s Top Tips for Fitting It In

For me, it’s the commitment to my health and wellbeing.  I can’t be a good leader to the team if I don’t ‘put on my own mask first’.

I then follow that up with the discipline of putting the class times in my diary 10 weeks in advance, and let my team know it’s important and please respect that time in the diary.

Setting expectation with myself is also key.  I know I won’t be able to make it to ALL of the classes in the 10 weeks, and that is ok.  But if I miss a class, I will do some other forms of exercise instead, be it a DIY session at the studio or an online recording.

What’s critical here is to be mindful of the choices I’m making so dumping classes doesn’t become a pattern.

Another factor for me is that by making my health and wellbeing a priority, it sends a very positive signal to my team.  Particularly if I dash out of the office in my exercise gear, it gets the thumbs up from the staff, and sets a good tone around the office.

What tools helped you get the time you want for exercise?

Diarise it!  And let people know it’s important for me.

Enjoy it!  Give yourself the credit that you’re taking time out of your day and actually taking a break.

Negotiate that time with yourself, and others.  This is what I mean –

I set up my class schedule 10 weeks in advance, and I know that I won’t make it to all of the classes, but I will make it to the majority of them.  For the ones I give up, it’s a conscious choice I make, as opposed to just letting the urgent tasks take over.

Urgent and unimportant often displaces the strategic and important if you don’t guard them.  So be conscious that when you decide to miss a class, it isn’t because of an urgent and unimportant thing.

When I speak to others about this time in my diary, I offer to do the work after the class e.g. check the email.

A lot of the times, humour can help in the communication as well.

I was once a few minutes late to an important board meeting. As I entered the room, I apologised for being late, and said ‘if I’m in trouble with you, then you should know that I just left my Russian Pilates instructor!’.

How would you respond if one of your team members said that they needed to leave work at 5pm to exercise?

I’ve never denied anyone who wanted some flexibility.  They’re generally more productive anyway.

If you’re going do something, then you have to give yourself permission to start and give yourself the priority.

Negotiate with work on how to make that happen, and stand firm.  Have a meeting with your manager at a time they’re receptive to the idea, and offer to catch up on the work after the class.

It’s also important to be aware of how your beliefs (e.g. cultural, environmental, past experiences etc) can influence your time use.  If your cultural values dictate you to be available for work and family at all times, then it will be a struggle for you to find the time for yourself.  It isn’t impossible, but it takes courage and the realisation that you ARE the most important person to those around you.

What’s your view on work-life balance?  Do you need work-life balance to find time for exercise, or would you make the time for exercise to get work-life balance?

You have to be active in creating the balance.  Urgent and unimportant tasks often displaces the strategic and important if you don’t guard them.

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