I don’t know if you were raised like I was, but when was little I was taught to finish my work before I played. It made sense in to finish my homework before I went out to play. It made sense to study for a test or clean my room before my friends came over. It made sense then.
But does it make sense now? Will we EVER be done with our work? I don’t think so. As a business professional, homeowner, and mom I could work 72 hours a day and still not be done. In this day and age of information overload and cutting budgets we are all trying to fit the work of 3 or 4 people into one. It’s time for a shift.
It’s hard to up your game when you’re burned out and overwhelmed. It’s hard to think clearly and productively when you don’t have the bandwidth. Our short term memories are finite and sometimes there is just no more room. If you don’t take time to care for yourself it will take longer to get your important work done. As Abe Lincoln said “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.”
So now in the middle of summer, when things are a little slower, it maybe the perfect time for you to set some “self-care” boundaries and make new habits. How can you build enjoyment and downtime in to your life:
Find a class you like, sign up and go regularly
Schedule technology vacations – pick a day or two every month and turn it off
Schedule fun time out with friends, family and/or just yourself
Close up shop at a scheduled time each evening
But most importantly, think differently. Balance work and play. Know that work before play is obsolete. Know that if you don’t take care of yourself your work will suffer.
Our lives are busy and full to the extent that we are like the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going and going and going. I know I feel like sometimes I take a licking and keep on ticking? My clients share with me that they feel that way too. What if we were to hit the pause button, what would happen?
For me creating space both physically and in my calendar enables me to see what is most important. Only then am I able to focus on the things that are fulfilling and really matter. Actually, the pause is the only way I can see what matters and is important. (Can you tell I just got back from a weekend yoga retreat?) It makes all the difference.
I recently attended a workshop on digital filing. It was clear that the concept of a paperless office was completely unrealistic. What is clear however is that we can simply reduce our use of paper by training ourselves to think differently? I pose to you the challenge of going Paper-LESS. Yes, LESS PAPER! Easy Paper-LESS changes:
Don’t automatically print out receipts of on-line purchases – Do file electronic confirmations in an email folder (mine is called on-line purchases!)
Don’t automatically print out emails you need to act on – Do put the action item into your task management system (on your to-do list, on to your calendar, etc.)
Don’t automatically print out airline ticket confirmations – Do put arrival and departure information (including flight numbers and confirmation codes) right onto your calendar.
These are simply places to start. However the real trick is the “automatically” part. You are going to have to change the habit you now have of hitting the print button at every turn. Instead of hitting Print try hitting a mental Pause and asking yourself “can I do with less paper?” Because when Paper-Less you have less clutter, and less clutter means fewer distractions from your important work.