If I was going to choose a second word of the year—or replace my current one—my word would be rest.
Not just rest as in getting more sleep (although that sounds heavenly at this moment), but rest as in not trying to do it all, taking time off, being intentional about time away from the computer, etc.
As an entrepreneur, I can be a bit of workaholic. In some ways, I think that may be the hallmark of an entreprenuer. And the reality is you often do have to work your tail off to build a successful business from scratch (although I’ve seen the occasional entrepreneur who can successfully build a business slowly and steadily…a trait I admire). But at some point, it moves from being a necessity to being a bad habit that can affect your health and relationships.
Last year, my focus was on consolidating my various endeavors and not worrying about trying to make all the ideas happen. I’ve made peace with having good ideas and letting them go, and I’ve moved my focus from the fun of starting something new to the joy of building what already exists.
But…I still take on too much. Over and over again I say yes to opportunities or my own projects or silly tasks that don’t even accomplish much because I overestimate the amount of time I actually have. And because I’m really good at getting things done, I mostly get them done…but at great sacrifice—to my health, to my family, to my vision and to my creativity.
While there is certainly an effect on my family (and I’m not trying to minimize the importance of addressing that), the other thing I’ve seen again and again and again over the past 7 or 8 years is that when I spend time away from the computer and away from my to-do list, my vision and creativity thrive. Which means rest is actually really good for my business. And yet I continually end up back in a cycle of overcommitting, overworking and burning out. It’s a bit dysfunctional, in all honesty, and it probably also fits Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
In an effort to avoid the trap of overworking, overscheduling, and ignoring the need for rest this year, I’m trying two new strategies:
This week I am taking my first ever writing/planning retreat.
A planning/writing/vision retreat is something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now, and the perfect opportunity finally popped up.
As an introvert, I thrive with plenty of silence and time alone, but as the mom of five, including a toddler, my silence and time alone is limited to the morning hours when I’m cranking out as much work as possible. This retreat will be different. I am taking my computer, but my plan is to spend as little time in front of it as possible and leave lots of space for thinking, visioning and just being as I think and pray about the year ahead.
To that end, my plans include:
- audiobooks on business and creativity
- continuing my daily walks
- carving time out for regular doodling and hand lettering
- Bible study
- Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever course
- resting (including full night’s sleep for the first time in years)
I have never taken a personal retreat by myself, and it’s been many years since I’ve even taken a retreat at all, so I’m very much looking forward to this time and setting a course for my year. (I also realized that this will be the first time in my entire life that I’ll be completely alone for 3 days. That’s weird to think about!)
The other part is learning to be realistic about the amount of time I actually have.
I’ve seen continuous monthly calendars before (I’ve even recommended and given one away here on Life Your Way), but the struggle I’ve had is that they’re too big and I can’t keep them at my fingertips for easy reference and adjustments. This year, I searched for a printable continuous monthly calendar, and I absolutely love this one from Vertex42.com that you can edit in Excel. Using color coding, symbols and other formatting, I’ve filled in all of the important birthdays, holidays and project deadlines for the year.
A continuous calendar is unique because it allows you to see the year as a whole rather than separating each month onto its own piece of paper. For someone who tends to overbook, this is crucial because it keeps me from saying, “Oh, this will be done this month, but next month is free.” I can see exactly how full the calendar is without creating artificial breaks that don’t really exist.
More importantly, seeing the year as a whole allows me to schedule time off so that when new opportunities come up, I can protect that time and be realistic about what’s already on the calendar. I’ve blocked off vacations and birthdays and holidays as non-work days so that those are obvious when I’m trying to determine whether I can realistically get something done.
I know myself well enough to know that I’m not going to do these things perfectly from this moment forward, but I do hope that these two steps kick off 2015 as the year of rest and being realistic about my time!
Do you make time for rest? Do you think it’s important?