It happened to me last week: I had so much to do and I really needed to be firing on all cylinders, but, no matter how much I tried to ignore it, I just didn’t feel well. Add a poorly daughter home from school into the mix and the conditions weren’t exactly perfect for working. Of course, the advice I’d give to others in this situation would be to take a step back, look after yourself, listen to your body…but instead of taking my foot off the pedal, I hit the accelerator and tried to plough through my to-to list at full throttle.
I was soon thwarted in this stubborn “full speed ahead” approach when my Mac suddenly decided to just STOP working. After my initial despair and frustration, I took this as a pretty sure sign that I too, really needed to STOP, turn off the engine and park up for a bit. So this is what I did. With a deep breath, I conceded that the work I had planned wasn’t going to get done, and instead I used the time to refuel.
We all have different ways of restoring our inner equilibrium, but one of the most effective for me is colouring in; so I sat down beside my daughter, with my coloured pencils and enjoyed a couple of hours of what is for me the ultimate antidote to the stresses of running a business from computer screen.
This kind of “forced” time out is also a great opportunity to take stock of where you are, catch up on some research, brainstorm ideas for future projects or even just…wait for it….RELAX! If, like me, you struggle with the idea of “just relaxing”, take it as a sign that this is probably exactly what you SHOULD be doing!
The fact is that, despite often thinking we are superhuman, we’re not, and we can’t just keep going/working/coping/taking more and more on. We need to STOP sometimes and take a break. We need to nurture and support ourselves, and remember that asking for help from others can be wonderfully rejuvenating and productive too. Once I’d calmed down and accepted that no amount of cursing my Mac was going to fix it, I took to Facebook and Twitter in search of expert technical help and was rewarded with an abundance of advice and support: thank you to all my friends who talked me through it!
So, the next time things go pear-shaped and your best laid plans are thrown into disarray, don’t panic, don’t get angry, don’t ignore the signs and force yourself onward. Take your foot off the pedal and take a breather ….you’ll be surprised at how productive “time out” can be!
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