Mercury Isn’t In Retrograde, You Just Need A Break
You spilled your coffee and now your to-do list looks like a rorschach test. You’re running late for your meeting because that dress you carefully pressed the night before got snagged as you walked by some old furniture you set aside but haven’t yet taken to Goodwill so you had to change. Then you realize your gas tank is almost empty because you forgot to get gas yesterday because you overbooked yourself and had non-stop meetings across town and by the time you were done you were just too tired to stop so you just headed straight home thinking, “Oh I’ll just get gas before my meeting.”
That was me two weeks ago and if that all sounds too familiar to you or you’ve been going through days that are similar I want you to know that there’s a solution to this but only if you’re willing to actually do it.
Ready for it?
You need a break.
It’s hard though, right – when you’re running a business and you do pretty much everything yourself and you feel guilty for even thinking about taking a break? Hunkering down and the “keep on truckin'” attitude is admirable but trust me, it’s not going to get easier and I can speak from experience when I say that it will only get worse, plus you are no good to your clients if you’re not operating at 100%. I certainly wasn’t and while the mistakes weren’t major, I noticed them and that wore me down even more and I had to take a few steps to get back in mental shape.
Actual clutter = mental clutter. This article actually lays out exactly how clutter can cause stress and physical clutter has been a huge culprit in my feeling frazzled. It’s amazing how simply stacking papers to sort later on and clearing up your desk surface is enough to make you sigh happily and feel less heavy. I also like to grab a couple of post-its, label them and stick them on so I know how to sort them later.
Step away from your screen and set a timer for 20 minutes to just free-write or doodle. Because I spend a lot of time staring at a screen (either my monitor or my phone) switching gears and looking at paper and ink helps to rest my eyes. Journaling and writing whatever comes to mind also helps me sort out all the noise in my head and by the end of the exercise I find that there’s a lot more clarity.
Recently, I picked up calligraphy and that’s been a cathartic exercise and a really fun hobby that I allow myself to practice once a day. If you like to knit, maybe spend the time knitting! Or, grab that book you’ve been trying to finish and just read a chapter. Switching gears that way will also help relax and grease back up the proverbial gears in your brain that normally focus on work.
Take a day off.
Now, this one takes some planning and the first thing to do is to look at your calendar and find a day that’s open and commit to it – no last minute appointments (unless it’s a coffee date with a friend) or “I’ll just allot an hour to this one thing.” Take the entire day off from the moment you go to bed the night before till you wake up the next day and do what YOU have been wanting to do but haven’t had the chance to.
You’re probably thinking, “This is all well and good for you but I just can’t do that, my clients need me, I have this massive list…” and so on. I understand completely and truth be told, before I did this I had that same resistance too but believe me, it was worth it. Now I’m allowing myself one full day a month and it’s done wonders for my productivity.
I’m not saying you should just throw your hands up and go, “forget this” and drop everything you’re doing right now – we are business owners after all and there’s things to sort out before you can leave like letting clients know that you won’t be available for 24 hours, allocating work to your team and setting an out-of-office responder on your email then be on your way.
Do whatever you want on that day except your work. It’s going to be hard at first, you’ll be tempted to check on things but don’t. Did I worry and check my phone and email? Yes, but I caught myself, put my phone on Do Not Disturb and walked away and talk about productive! I started checking all those other nagging items off my list like “take that pile of things to Goodwill” and “clean office.” Actually, I didn’t just clean, I rearranged my desk and furniture, tidied the entire place up even treated myself to a new bookshelf! This was Tidy Up on a larger scale and my office is now a space I can’t wait to step into.
These are things that work for me and I hope they provide some sort of relief to you when you’re having one of those days. So whether it’s 20 minutes or a whole day, listen to your body and listen to what’s going on in your head when you can’t seem to get your thoughts straight and take a break. You work so hard all the time for others, it’s only fair to you (and ultimately to them) that you take care of yourself too!