Focus On This Podcast

93. Restore Your Energy with Self-Care Rhythms



You feel tired all the time and are not even sure when it started. You try to go on vacation once a year, but it doesn’t feel like enough. You’re concerned that this exhaustion is affecting your performance, both at work and at home. What can you do on a regular basis to stay energized throughout the week?

In this episode, Courtney, Blake, and Verbs brainstorm ideas for the 5 categories of self-care and offer tips on building it into your week. They show you how to leverage the Weekly Preview, so you can more consistently engage in self-care and be at your best from day to day—and not just when you finally have the chance to go on vacation. 

In this episode, you’ll discover—

  • Strategies for winding down at night and getting enough sleep 
  • Why the people you connect with impact your energy
  • The value of giving yourself the freedom to play
  • 5 tips for filling out the self-care section of the Weekly Preview


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Episode Transcript

Verbs: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Courtney Baker and Blake Stratton. Once again, happy Monday to you both.

Blake: What’s up?

Courtney: Hey, guys. Blake, I’m just wondering. Do we want to talk about this new thing you did right out of the gate?

Blake: This new thing I did?

Courtney: Yeah.

Blake: Oh, you mean…

Courtney: That thing we were just talking about.

Blake: Oh, yeah, yeah. So, you guys, I’ll be streaming on Twitch. I’m becoming a DJ, so I thought maybe y’all would want to tune in and send me… Is that what…?

Courtney: No.

Blake: When should we get my Venmo out? Is that our call to action this episode, getting my Venmo…?

Courtney: That is not what I was talking about at all.

Blake: Oh! Okay.

Verbs: Although that would be great.

Blake: What were you talking about?

Verbs: That would be great. “The most productive DJ on the Internet.”

Courtney: Well, the rumor on the street is that you have a self-guided Weekly Preview that is going to be available for people.

Blake: It’s true. We’ve been hearing a lot of people, especially listening to the podcast, going, “How can I listen to Blake’s soothing timbre even more when the podcast is over?” So we’ve decided to record a Weekly Preview. If you have never done a Weekly Preview or you think to yourself, “Oh, I know I have to do the Weekly Preview. I never really make time for it…”

Or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while and you just want to optimize, to get the most out of your Weekly Preview. I went ahead with our producer Nick and recorded kind of a mini training/guided Weekly Preview for you. You can download that by sending me $50 to the Venmo that Courtney will… Oh, no. We’re giving it…

Courtney: It always comes back around to your Venmo.

Blake: Are we giving this away for free?

Courtney: Yeah, we are. Just so you all know… Actually, Blake, clarify this for me. For me, I do my Weekly Preview on Sunday night. I would take this guided preview and kind of press “play” and start going through my Weekly Preview, and you’re going to be prompting and giving tips throughout it. So, you’re going to learn and get your Weekly Preview done at the same time.

Blake: Exactly. Actually, it will be great for you, specifically, Courtney, because I reference you a lot, like, “Listen up to this part, Courtney. You’ve got to do the After-Action Review.” So, it may not work… If you’re not named Courtney, you might be confused. No. Just kidding. It’s for everyone. You can actually do it… Don’t just press “play” and think, “Oh, I’ll just learn, and then I’ll do my Weekly Preview.” It’s best served while you’re in action. So, get out your planner, hit “play,” and get to work.

Courtney: So, where do they get that at?

Blake: No Venmo required.

Courtney: Nice.

Verbs: This is our second week of re-June-venation, and we are addressing the issue of rest. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but it’s possible that a lot of us feel tired a lot of the time and we’re not even sure when it started. Too often, I think, we wait until the very last minute when we’re completely exhausted to think about taking care of ourselves.

The fact of the matter is a once-a-year vacation isn’t going to be enough to keep us at our best. We need regular times or finding a rhythm, if you will, to engage in self-care. Then that helps us stay energized and present our best throughout the week. That’s why today we’ll be brainstorming ideas for the five self-care categories and then give you some tips on how to build self-care into your week using the Weekly Preview. Courtney and Blake, if you don’t mind, are you ready to jump in? Can you help walk us through this first category?

Courtney: Yeah.

Blake: Sorry, sorry. I was participating in the first category there.

Courtney: Oh. I was wondering. I was like, “Why is he not taking this? Okay. I guess I will do the first category.” Glad you got in a little nap there. Speaking of naps, the first category is Sleep. For a podcast on productivity, I have to say we probably have the most episodes on sleep versus any other productivity podcast.

Verbs: I think you might be right.

Courtney: I’m not sure if there are awards for that, but I’m pretty sure we’ve received a few.

Verbs: We should go from Weekly Preview to “Sleepy Preview.”

Blake: When you’re thinking about this category, basically, all you’re trying to do is, just for a brief moment, brainstorm a way to enhance your sleep. The more enhanced your sleep, the more enhanced your productivity is. It doesn’t have to be anything huge, but just think about “What is working with my nighttime ritual? Is there anything I should do to enhance my sleep?”

Maybe that means I’m not going to drink coffee after a certain time or maybe it means I’m going to turn off my electronics at a certain time or I’m going to listen to the soothing sounds of Verbs Boyer on the Focus on This podcast to fall asleep…whatever it is. Just brainstorm a few strategies to help you sleep or get some extra rest during the day if you’re like me.

Courtney: Honestly, early on I struggled with this section, and I’ve gotten a lot better with practice on outlining what I’m going to do each week for each one of those categories. With sleep, I usually default to thinking of what time I’m going to go to sleep or how many hours I’m going to try to get.

I think there are a lot of other ideas, like some of the things you’ve mentioned, maybe things like, “I’m going to turn off my phone at a certain time” or “I’m going to try to do a meditation app into sleep.” I just think there’s a whole host of other things I could try to list out there that would be helpful in this category. Is there anything else you guys have tried? We have whole episodes on sleep, but anything new you’ve tried that has helped you with sleep?

Blake: I really want to get a chiliPAD.

Verbs: What is this?

Blake: If you’re listening and you work for chiliPAD and you could hook a brother up, just shoot me…

Courtney: What is a chiliPAD?

Blake: Okay. There are a few different variations, but I think chiliPAD was kind of the first to the scene, and Tim Ferriss made it popular. It is essentially a top mat for your mattress that regulates the temperature. Do you ever wake up at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 in the morning and feel really warm?

Courtney: Yeah.

Blake: Even if you had your AC on or whatever. The chiliPAD is going to regulate and keep a steady temperature throughout the night. It uses water to do so. It doesn’t feel like a waterbed, but there are these little…

Courtney: Oh, gosh. That scares me…waterbeds coming back.

Blake: Well, it’s not a waterbed, but it is apparently a game changer, because you can stay cool, or whatever temperature you prefer, through the whole night.

Courtney: That’s fascinating. What about when y’all get to the self-care section of your Weekly Preview? What are the types of things y’all write for sleep?

Verbs: I stick with the old faithful. I have the same mindset as you did, Courtney. I normally think about what time I want to go to bed and how many hours of sleep I want to get. I’ve been using that sleep alarm that alerts you an hour before your designated sleep time. That helps.

The other thing I just implemented not too long ago is this other app called Moment, which is basically a phone fast app. You can pick it up and say, “I want to go three hours without touching my phone.” Hit “Start fast,” and then if you go to pick up your phone, it’ll automatically cancel out. They kind of gamify it a little bit. I figured out the trick is to do it even before the hour of my designated time I want to go to bed. That way I’m already starting to wind down and I’m not coming out of that tech moment.

Courtney: What was the name of that again? Because I’m going to get it.

Verbs: It’s called Moment.

Courtney: Moment. Got it.

Verbs: Super cool app. That has been helpful for me as far as the winding down phase before actual bedtime. The bonus is you’re more present with your family without fiddling with your phone.

Blake: All right. The second category is Eat. You probably have noticed this, but what you eat totally affects your energy, your performance, your mood sometimes. That’s why I always have a big bowl of ice cream in the morning, because I feel happy. So, what are some things you guys have jotted down when you think about self-care and you think about food? I know Courtney is very passionate about this one component of food. I’m sort of leading you here, Courtney, so don’t let me down.

Verbs: Setting you up for the alley-oop.

Blake: How do you take care of yourself in terms of what you eat without having to spend a ton of time processing and cooking and doing all that stuff every day?

Courtney: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Blake: Come on. I put the cookies on the bottom shelf for you.

Verbs: Meal prep. Come on, the meal prep.

Courtney: Are you talking about the meal prep?

Blake: Aren’t you still obsessed with meal prep?

Courtney: Yes, I am.

Blake: You make all of your meals one day a month and put it all in the freezer.

Courtney: I did not realize that’s what you were talking about. I don’t know. Meal planning does not feel like self-care for me, but usually what I write in this section is about… Something I’ve been doing a lot of this year is intermittent fasting, where I’m stopping eating at a certain time in the evening and starting at a certain time in the morning. But that’s interesting. I’ve never really thought about meal planning and how I’m prepping as using that in this category.

Blake: Here’s how that works for me. If I don’t think about what I’m going to eat beforehand, I’m just going to eat whatever is on hand or whatever is most convenient, and DoorDash gets to keep a huge portion of that decision-making process.

Verbs: They know your address.

Blake: Because I’m like, “I could do this, but also, Five Guys has free delivery tonight, so…”

Courtney: Well, I will tell everybody some of the things I do for meal prep that I think might be helpful. First, there is an amazing book called Cook Once, Eat All Week. You do all your meal prep… I actually shared this as a hack with our whole company a couple of years ago, so I think there are a lot of people who have purchased this. The author of that cookbook actually uses the Full Focus Planner.

The other thing I do is I meal plan in an Excel spreadsheet. I just put, “Okay, this season, this quarter…” I plan four weeks of food and meals, and then I recycle those every month. It kind of takes all the work out of that. Also, if you have an executive assistant, they can fill your cart for you for Instacart or a Whole Foods order, and then all you have to do is go press “Purchase.” So, that’s kind of a fun hack for this category.

Blake: All right. Let’s move on. Let’s do the third category.

Verbs: Here it is.

Blake: Move. I don’t know why I said it like that.

Verbs: I feel like I knew where you were going.

Blake: Were you thinking I was going Young MC, like a little “Bust a Move”?

Verbs: No. I thought you were going Ludacris.

Blake: Oh! That is kind of more of a Ludacris.

Courtney: Okay. Move. For this category… Obviously, exercise boosts our health and our confidence. I think here, a lot of times, we think it has to be more than it actually has to be. Sometimes something is better than nothing. Obviously, y’all know all the things. You could be like Blake and do yoga in your office. You can walk, run, bike, swim… There are all different kinds of things you could take on.

Another hack is I think, a lot of times, we forget about organized sports and what a great… My husband is all about a pick-up game of basketball. That’s a great workout, but a lot of times we don’t think of that as an option when we’re looking at our self-care and moving.

Blake: The thing with this step for me is… It goes back to that whole “What gets scheduled gets done” type of thing. Sometimes I’ve written stuff down in my planner in the brainstorming section, but I never do it. That changes when it’s either ritualized… Like, I’ll go to the gym three times a week and lift weights, but that has just become my ritual. But when it comes to this other stuff, like, “Yeah, I need to play some basketball” or “I want to do that,” if I don’t actually put it on the calendar, it never opens up magically. It’s never calling my name. So, I think that’s a key with this one: figure out how you can put it on the calendar.

Courtney: I think a lot of it is just knowing yourself and what works for you. I’ve talked to both of you about… I’m doing this cycling, this Peloton challenge thing. I’m in the seventh week of it. Guys, that just works for me. Somebody is telling me what workouts I have to do. I have to check it off. I have to post my graph in a team thing. I just know my personality. It totally works for me. For you, Blake, it sounds like you just have to get it on the calendar. Verbs, for you… You’ve committed to the thing you’re doing. Is it just having that accountability of knowing what you need to do? Or what is it about…? What is it called that you’re actually doing?

Verbs: Break HIIT.

Courtney: What about that works for you?

Verbs: That’s a very important point, just knowing what works for you. For me, being able to do something right here at home… I can just roll into it in the morning times. It works out significantly. Whereas my wife has to actually go somewhere else to work out, because if she’s in the house, then her mind is already thinking about “What do the kids need to be set up for for the day?” That’s where her head is. So she has to remove herself out of the house to be able to get to an outside external workout situation for that to work for her. Just knowing that helps set you up for success when you’re trying to figure out what movement looks like for you.

Courtney: That’s good.

Verbs: The fourth category you’ll come to in that Weekly Preview section is Connect. What do you guys find is the best…? Or do you struggle with this at all? I feel like, definitely, during the course of last year this was a challenge, but now that things are opening back up and there’s a new rhythm, what do you guys find yourself doing to maximize on this Connect segment?

Blake: I would say I do an awesome job at this, but when I’m doing my Weekly Preview, usually it’s just as simple as “Who would I like to see this week? Who would I like to connect with?” I typically end up just writing down some specific names. When I’m doing the Weekly Preview, I don’t necessarily take the time to figure it all out, because, a lot of times, when you’re talking about connecting with somebody else, maybe you have to plan something or whatever else.

Usually it’s like, “Oh yeah. Who would I love to connect with or see this week?” and then I’ll just run it past either them and/or if I have to include my family on that decision. It’s not always a big get-together. Sometimes it’s just in the moment I’m like, “Oh yeah. I haven’t talked to Greg in a while. He’s in New York. Let me just set a reminder on Tuesday to give him a call.”

Verbs: That’s good.

Courtney: I think it doesn’t have to be as hard as my initial reaction is to the Connect section. A lot of times I’ll just put “Hey, I want to send my college roommate Kristin (20:06) a Marco Polo.” That’s something I can do at any time. A lot of times, I’ve previously felt a lot of pressure on scheduling things. And those are certainly helpful. Now my book club is getting back together again. There are some standing things I have with people that are really nice, but I think it can be a simple thing, like send a certain person a Marco Polo or ask some people from work if they want to go grab a drink after work one day. I think you can get creative with this.

Maybe you want to go on a hike and ask somebody to go hike with you. Actually, my husband Chase and I have talked about this a lot more recently, because we are more limited with a newborn in the house of us being able to go with other people. It’s usually like one of us needs to hang back and be with our kiddos. So, it’s like, hey, be proactive about can you go golf with some friends or can I go hike with some people or have people over outside around the fire one evening. Guys, I feel like all of us were probably really lacking in this for the last year and a half, so I think being intentional about this and recouping some of that lost connection is really important.

Blake: One last thing. On the connect thing, if you’re stumped on “Oh boy. There’s not an event” or “This is hard” or “Who should I call?” or “Who should I reach out to?” one thing to think about is that who you connect with and who you spend time with will impact your own energy. My wife Alaina and I have some friends that we talk about how we like hanging out with each other because it’s net zero, like a building that is net zero in terms of energy because it’s producing as much energy as it’s taking. Sometimes we think about that. If I’m struggling with, “Who should I reach out to?” I just think, “Well, who is going to have an impact…? Who when I spend time with them tends to lift my energy or I feel some fun, some excitement, and it’s easy to vibe with them?”

Courtney: Hold on a second. So, net zero… Is that a good thing or do you want it to be like net 100? Are Verbs and I net zero or are we like plus 100 for you?

Verbs: He’s saying it balances out.

Blake: You’re such an Enneagram Three. You’re like, “How do I win if it’s net zero? I’m confused. Who wins the interaction? It sounds like nobody wins. That sounds horrible.” Basically, it just means that you’re with people and not one person has to carry the energy of the interaction, where it’s like, “Oh yeah, I’m driving the conversation” or it has to be about him or her…that sort of thing. There’s a mutual exchange. It’s quite easy to be with that person, in other words.

Verbs: Everybody brings something to the party, to the table.

Blake: Yeah. To the party table. The fifth category is Relax. Chillax. Wasn’t that in the original Full Focus Planner? We had chillax, and then we were like, “You know what? I don’t know if this ages very well after 2015,” so we changed it to just relax.

Courtney: Yeah. This is really activities you do just for the fun of doing them. That’s going to be different for everybody. That could be getting out in nature, reading, building a model airplane… I don’t know why that’s in our notes, but…

Blake: I was hoping you’d say that. “Oh my gosh! Honey, you’ll never believe my day today. Oh, so stressful. I’m exhausted. I just have one question. Where is my freakin’ model airplane kit?”

Verbs: Oh my goodness. It is important to note that you have to make sure you would verify these activities as being relaxing, not just because they’re seen in the classic sense of… For some people, reading a book isn’t necessarily relaxing, but we kind of say it is because that’s what it’s classically known as. Just finding what you find relaxing. It could be building a model plane.

Blake: I don’t know how my wife finds CSI relaxing. She watches CSI, you know, the crime scene investigation show.

Verbs: Yeah, that’s intense.

Blake: But to your point, Verbs, whatever you find relaxing is what’s important.

Verbs: The benefit of that is you can always experiment with something new and give yourself the freedom to play around with it and see what works best for you.

Blake: So, are you guys ready for some fast top tips here to wrap up this episode?

Courtney: Yes.

Blake: Well, too bad, because I’m coming at you. These categories, as we mentioned, are self-care categories in your Full Focus Planner. It’s the last step of the Weekly Preview. What we wanted to give you before we close is some tips for filling this section out. Like, how do you practically do it? What are some tips to make it work for you? So, let’s hit it. First tip

Verbs: The first tip is write to yourself. Meaning, write to yourself in second person, like, it’s you talking to you. For example, you may say to yourself, “Self, you did a great job last week cooking food at home, but you’re still skipping lunch during meeting-heavy days. This week, let’s try to have extra snacks on hand for when that happens. I love you, self.”

Courtney: The second tip is treat it like a status check. Look backward and forward at once and be candid about where you are.

Blake: The third tip is engage in encouragement. When you’re writing this, you don’t just want to focus on where you’re not doing a good job, but think about where you’re excelling as well with your self-care.

Verbs: The fourth tip is stay practical. If you know you won’t do it, don’t bother writing it down, but take a smaller step instead.

Courtney: The last tip is connect self-care to your goals. Especially health goals. It makes it a lot more motivating. Lastly, if you have the planner… I think, a lot of times, you might be doing your Weekly Preview and you might think, “You know what? I’m just going to skip this section,” because it’s kind of at the end. You may be winding down.

It’s really important. Take it from me. I struggled with this section of the Weekly Preview when we first rolled it out. It’s really a great step, and for days like today… I planned the self-care section of my Weekly Preview, and I have a massage scheduled tonight. I totally forgot about it. Now I’m so excited. So, don’t skip this part of your Weekly Preview.

Verbs: The good news is you don’t have to wait until vacation to get the self-care you need. Build it into your weeks by considering the five categories and leveraging that Weekly Preview. So, before we go, Blake, Courtney, any final thoughts for our Focus on This listeners?

Blake: We say this a lot with the planner, but my last thought would just be to start small. Just start really small and allow yourself to build momentum when it comes to self-care, especially if you’ve been burned out. If you try to do “I’m going to do six different things and take care of myself,” sometimes that’s challenging. It’s fine when you’re iterating, but especially if you’re recognizing “You know what? I am pretty burned out,” just start really small and try to ritualize it or make it as easy as possible to start this week. So, “How can I start small and start easy?”

Courtney: That’s such a great word, because once you can get one of these ticking along, the rest seem to follow in my experience.

Verbs: Thank you for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet. Don’t forget to download Blake’s guided Weekly Preview at We’ll be here next week with another great episode. Until then…

All: Stay focused!