I Got More Done By Doing Less... how the heck?

The signs were obvious but I wasn’t seeing them.

It went like this…

I start every week by planning my activities in my calendar. I get it all in there: exercise, work, domestic duties, meal planning, time with friends and loved ones, dog walks, studying, online courses, meetings and outreach, teach class, give sessions… it all goes in there.

I’m a big believer in making a plan.

Admittedly, it’s an ambitious plan every week. But I don’t stop there.

I need to look good while I’m doing it! -- No breaks for Darcie!

I do this every week, make a plan in my calendar - every time slot filled with something to knock out.

Last week, I ran through my usual planning routine. When I looked at my calendar, I lost my energy. Man-o-man I was tired and looking at what lay ahead felt like a lot of work.

But press on I must!

As I started into the week I was struggling. My eyes were heavy. I had a hard time concentrating. I was distracted easily. I felt the overwhelm of all the things I wanted to accomplish.

After a couple days into the week I had to accept the fact that I was tired. I was dog tired.

I talk a good talk about cutting ourselves slack when we need to. I was forgetting my own advice. I realized I wasn’t going to feel rested, rejuvenated, or invigorated by working harder.

I knew I couldn’t keep going like this.

Here’s what I did…

I looked at my calendar and realized there was no space for me. After some review, I saw that I had half a day with no meetings. I rearranged my self imposed tasks and deadlines and then... scheduled my sick time.

Yes, I scheduled my sick time because I could feel I wasn’t able to sustain that pace and I needed more than a lunch break to get me back on track.

I made it happen because I could feel burnout creeping up on me.

Get this! ... When I scheduled my sick time my body physically relaxed. That’s when I knew I was on the right track. My body will tell me what's up every time.

I met all my professional commitments for the week.

Turns out, I was more focused and efficient when I had that four-hour break to look forward to.

Interesting right?

By scheduling time to rest I got more done with less stress.

The four-hour break was intentionally scheduled so there were no obligations or responsibilities. It was delicious and very needed. I really rested. I laid down, closed my eyes, and rested. Not the full four hours. I also read, journaled, took a walk, and stretched. I took care of myself like I would’ve recommended a friend do.

I recognized in this time how I underestimate a mini vacation or a long break. Think of it however you want. I look forward to the big vacation but I can't wait for it to give myself space to recharge. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have had a real break in several years (more on that in a different blog).

If you’re working your ass off, feeling a little unhappy or burned out, don’t wait for the epic vacation or sabbatical to allow yourself to rest. You can do it in half a day.

I’m not saying play hooky from work or shirk your responsibilities.

You’ll know when you need a break. Your body and mind will let you know. You just have to listen.

Signs you need a break:

  • Every task in front of you feels heavier and harder than it normally would

  • You are easily distracted and procrastinate more than usual

  • You think to yourself how tired you feel and yet when you go to bed you aren’t able to fall asleep

  • You feel stiff and tight in your neck, shoulders, and back

  • You’re eating more junk food and not eating at your regular meal times

  • You feel like nobody around you appreciates how hard you are working and what you sacrifice to make sure everything gets done

  • You have less patience and are quick to anger or get frustrated

  • Your exercise and self-care take a back seat in your daily routine

This is a short list, trust me. But these are just a few signs that we need to pay attention to. You may know have some of your own not listed here.

At times, it feels impossible to get everything in for yourself and others.

So what do you do? Try this.

  1. Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes.

  2. Notice your thoughts and feel your energy level. If any of the signs from above or anything else are present, ask yourself what you need to feel better.

  3. Review your commitments for the week - what you want to get done, and what can wait. Schedule time just for you.

Warning! This can be a challenging exercise. When you have so much to do it can feel like there is no space. But there is if you create it.

The key is to be as honest as you can about how you feel. When you work with what is happening, you can take wise action.

Start small and see how you feel.

I’m rooting for you to feel your best! You deserve it and so does every one around you.

If you want support fill in my discovery call form. I’ll get in touch to schedule your free consultation. It would be an honor to work with you.

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