Your current pace isn’t showing any signs of slowing; it seems you’re always busy and constantly on the go. You’re working as fast as you can, but there’s no time left for you, for reflection and renewal. There’s got to be a better way to live and work.
You desperately want to find time for you, and for improving your work, your skills, for observation, for growth, but there’s now white space left on your calendar. It doesn’t take long, before you start to feel tired and inefficient because of your current situation. Yet, you don’t want to stop – in order not to break the momentum.
But is this “forced” momentum really worth it and is it actually doing you more harm than good?
The illusion of productivity
Many people consider productivity to be working as much as possible, but that isn’t the case.
Part of the definition of productivity is also slowing down and taking a breather. However, if you are skipping the breaks then this nasty habit is going to get to you at some point: You’ll be exhausted and stress yourself out for nothing.
Another part of slowing and taking a break is for reflecting on your work processes: What have you achieved? What methods worked and which could be improved on further?
The fact is that you need to do this kind of analysis on a frequent basis. Otherwise, you can keep working and working, until you realize that you have wasted your time doing too much unnecessary work. Moreover, that this could’ve been prevented by stopping for a moment and looking around.
Forcing yourself to keep up the momentum
So what is the real reason why you keep working like this, even though you know you should stop at times?
First, the fear keeps your wheels rolling. It’s not letting you stop, because if you do you’ll fall behind on everything – or at least that’s what fear thinks. You’re also afraid that your momentum will stop, but you should be asking where is my momentum taking me.
Second, your attitude also matters. In your words, “the more I do, the better I am as a person” may work on some level, but for how long?
If your daily life is just hard work without any reprieve, do you think that you can keep this indefinitely? Or do you think that what you are doing now is just a short-term strategy? If it’s the latter, how can you work better to reduce the stress and improve your effectiveness?
The STOP sign
So, how do you improve your situation?
Allow yourself to stop!
Yes, allow yourself to take a break on a frequent basis for renewal, analysis, education, and planning.
This is actually a major shift in your mindset and it plays a big role in what happens next. The shift is also helping you to change your negative attitude towards taking time off. If you’d normally label yourself as a procrastinator or a lazy person if you take time off, giving yourself permission to do so can help you to quiet those negative thoughts.
It’s the same thing as if you’d be trying to lose weight: If you allow yourself to eat something unhealthy every now and then, instead of beating yourself up about it, you might actually reach your goal even faster.
From forced to relaxed momentum – how to
1. Allow yourself to stop. This is the most crucial mindset shift you can make: allow yourself to stop at times.
2. Understand the benefits. For instance, you’d have more time to plan, analyze the past, and even prevent future mistakes from happening. The off days are also great for “sharpening the saw” – educating yourself. No matter how good you are now in what you do, you can always do better and improve. Finally, slowing down is a great way to take your mind off work for a while. This way you can have more energy for your future projects and tasks you have coming up.
3. Find the perfect time for the day off. Decide to have at least one day off dedicated on a weekly basis for analysis, planning, education, and renewal. In my case, this day is on Sunday. When I reach my off day, I know that I have also reached the end of the workweek and that I can slow down a bit. This off day gives me a needed break between the current and the coming workweek.
You can work only so much. At some point, you have to find time for planning, analyzing, and renewal. In addition, although you might find it difficult in the beginning, you’ll find it comes easier. You’ll begin to see the big picture and have more motivation to tackle your work with enthusiasm and energy. It gives you a more relaxed type of momentum.
Over to you: Do you take time off on a frequent basis?
Featured photo credit: Businessman sitting on a chair via Shutterstock