05 March 2011

the need to unplug

My day job has me working in front of a computer for at least eight hours a day. I have an online business. I love it. I also love my email (which explains the withdrawal I feel when I go "long" periods of time without checking it - *hint* the periods of time aren't so long), I love my blog, I love seeing what people are up to on facebook.

I love being connected.

But I've learned that my poor brain can only absorb so much. Combine that with the fact that I love to be b-u-s-y (seriously, its some super obnoxious drive in me that rarely leaves me sitting still and the times I sit still are spent planning what I will do once I begin to move again) and I used to find myself feeling like I was being sucked down the rabbit hole on a fairly regular basis.

These two things have led to the development of three habits that help keep things in balance and I thought maybe we'd have a little chat about it today in case some of us are still struggling in these areas. I'm not saying I don't get overwhelmed, I'm not saying you will zoom around the house in your superhero cape if you decide to use some of these habits but they might help take the edge off if you're feeling like you just want to go drool in a corner and ignore the world.

So here goes:

(1) USING MY SUPERPOWER. I've talked about my superpower here before: The List. I structure much of my activities around The List. Obsessive? Perhaps. OCD? A touch.

But The List gives me focus so I can keep working toward my goals (that tend to multiply like dust bunnies). And it gives me something really great: peace of mind.

My brain gets a break, it doesn't have to remember everything. The List has it covered. All the brain has to do is remember to look at the list (and not loose it).

(2) THE ONE HOUR RULE. At least one hour prior to bed, the laptop goes off.

Shut down.

Put aside.

During that hour, I give myself permission to forget everything. The day is done. I've got The List. I can pick up where I left off the next day.

I read. I watch TV. I antagonize Dooley:

Anything but online. It slows my mind, it lets it get still and quiet for a bit and actually makes sleep better.

(3) SAYING NO. I admit that I'm still working on this one.

Its not an easy thing to let some things slip through your fingers. But consider the alternative: banging your head against the wall as you beg the universe to either add ten hours to the day or allow you to exist on one hour of sleep a day. (Or ideally both).

Like I said before, I love to be busy. Makes me all giddy. Its my drug. But I reach a point where I crash. And its no good because when my body decides for me that I need to slow down, it just makes things more tense and difficult and just...blah.

Its about balance, right?

So stepping back when an opportunity presents itself and giving it a good consider helps keep things more manageable. The biggest question is this: do you want to do it? Then ask yourself if you'll enjoy it and finally, do you have the time to do a good job?

I find I can normally squeeze things into my schedule. But I can't always fit them in and do a good job. So even if the first two questions are a positive (yes, I want to do this and yes, I'll enjoy doing it), if the last one is a big fat no, it gets skipped.

As is life's tendency, it doesn't always work that I can employ these habits. There are times The List gets set aside for more pressing matters or there are some days when I need down time more then I need to work. But I've found I keep on track better with these for one major reason: I'm taking care of myself - which is just as important as everything else.

So go pet the dog (or kitty) or go read your book or pick up that knitting and do a few rounds without guilt. The schedule and to-do list will be waiting the next day.

Unplug! :)


Deb H said...

Thanks Lynn, I need to remember to use the *list*; a superpower tool for sure! Your post is a helpful reminder for those of us who struggle with overwhelm.

Wabbit said...

I used to be a list person and once in a while I still am. I don't know where I lost that compulsion or how, but I wish I had it back! And seriously, that Dooley is so cute, I'd be playing with him all day long!