Is it hard for you to say no?
Do you sometimes find yourself spending an excessive amount of time making your work products just right?
Are you commonly rushing from one task to the next?
Do you commonly neglect celebrating yourself and your successes?
If so, congratulations! You might be a perfectionist, you are most certainly a human being, and you fit right in with the overachievers here in our ALV community.
The thing about responsibilities, though, is that they will just keep coming whether or not we have the time or mental capacity for them. And, if you have a dream or a vision or a wild passion, you don’t want them to stop! However, a growth-oriented life doesn’t mean you have to run yourself ragged. Sure, you might have late nights or stressful days, but those can’t be the norm – they simply aren’t sustainable.
It helps to have strategies that combat the need to always-be-doing. For me, I need to constantly switch up my routine. A tool that helped me refocus a month ago might not be what I need right now. In case you’re someone who also benefits from a ton of tools in your toolbox, I’ve included some of the ways I’m slowing down below.
Taking 60 seconds for deep breaths.
When I set this goal for myself, I felt overwhelmed by finding the time to fit it in – and then almost immediately, felt like that was the wake-up call I needed. Even one simple minute of deep breathing or mindfulness can make a huge difference in my day. At work, I’m a go-to for lots of issues, so it can be hard to have uninterrupted time. My strategy has been to set timers – 4 throughout the day, scheduled around meetings and other obligations – and when those go off, I take a quick walk to fill up my water bottle or escape to the restroom and make the time to breathe.
Practicing time blocking.
We’ve all seen the articles that warn us about multitasking – specifically, that it doesn’t work. Argh! Time blocking is a powerful alternative that helps me actually get things done. In a nutshell, time blocking is the simple practice of dedicating certain amounts of time (I work best in 1-3 hour time spans) on a single task or project. This helps to keep your attention on what’s truly important instead of being faced with constant distractions and task-switching. At the beginning of each week, I look at the projects I need to complete and find blocks of time in my schedule (rare!), then physically set a block on my calendar to work on them. When the time comes, I turn off email, put on a playlist that gets me in the zone, and fully turn myself over to the work.
Getting enough sleep.
I can’t overstate the importance of sleep for my personal productivity. I don’t notice a huge burst in energy after my second cup of coffee, but I do fall victim to the 2 pm slump if I haven’t gotten enough rest the night before. I also notice that in general, I have a harder time concentrating and digging into my creative side if I’m feeling sleep deprived. Making sure that I’m getting enough zzz’s can require some sacrifice – perhaps I shorten (or skip!) my workout, I grab healthy takeout instead of cooking dinner, or my dirty laundry sits in the basket for another night. Once I’m back on track with my sleep, I can get back on track with everything else in life.
This week’s challenge
This one can be done right here, right now. Get your phone out and set a timer for 60 seconds. Close your eyes, breathe, and allow your thoughts to wander where they may. When the timer goes off, take your final deep breath – and then get back to work.
In our insanely hectic lives, getting one minute to yourself to simply be is such a treat. Give that gift to yourself. Repeat as necessary and reap the benefits.
We know you want to learn more. Here are some of our favorite additional resources:
- Unpacking this controversial concept: “Finding the type of self-care that resonates with you is key. But what comes next?”
- Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, you still need to do it: 4 Mindset Changes That’ll Make Networking Feel Way Less Fake and Horrible
- Listen, implement, repeat: On Saying Yes
- If you’re in it for the long haul: Toxic Workers Are More Productive, But the Price Is High