Are You Constantly Trying to get One Step Ahead?
How many hours a week are you currently working? Are you always trying to get one step ahead of your workload?
When you get home do you forget about work when you close your door or are you still checking your phone/tablet?
Do you ever allow yourself the time to truly switch off?
Reasons not to get one step ahead
One of my oft quoted phrases that drives me on all the time is “Life is too Short” except in my case, having faced death, I know that it is very true. That is why I have ended up with 5 concurrent occupations and push my mind and body beyond the limits that my doctors have warned me of.
However, I have suddenly been pulled up short again.
Having woken up recently feeling utterly drained despite 7 hours sleep, all my joints protesting at the slightest movement and a migraine that would not let me move my head without trying to pound out of my skull I was forced to stop and re-assess.
Over this past year I have allowed the pressure to build upon my time resources.
As some of you will recognise in yourselves, I was getting up ever earlier in the hope that I could get one step ahead each day culminating in 5am starts with, more often than not, 7pm finishes. And these were the days when I didn’t have an event running which in themselves often run into 21-hour on the go days.
I wasn’t getting one step ahead, in fact I was getting ever further behind.
One step ahead is a fallacy...
…………………………………………………………..there’s always another task
The first automatic thing I would do upon rising was to switch on my pc and check the communications that had come in overnight (I work a lot with overseas companies).
Even when closing down for the day I would still carry my phone or iPad with me and keep checking in until it was time to get ready for bed.
Being self-employed this would quite often spill into my weekends and the Sunday’s I did manage to forbid myself online time were spent thinking about the mountain of tasks I still had to climb or feeling guilty that I was being lazy.
I was caught in the trap of thinking the harder I worked the more I would get one step ahead.
In a way I am lucky as my PTSD has a way of letting me know enough is enough by simply shutting my brain and body down, and I mean literally. I often imagine it like a machine having it’s plug pulled from the socket and the batteries taken away. Whilst I was in this state I took stock again of what I was doing to myself.
It suddenly became crystal clear that none of us, me included, will ever reach the top of the task mountain.
There are simply too many emails, messages, requests and demands on our time for it to be possible. And far from reaching a utopia where everything is done, under control or finished the problem is only going to get worse with the pace of modern life and change.
Prioritise tasks but remember, it’s ok not to finish everything.
For the past month I have woken and reminded myself that it is not possible to finish everything, let alone get one step ahead and I have given myself permission that this is OK.
I refuse to switch on or look at any electronic device until I am washed, dressed and breakfasted and this I don’t rush. If I do turn on my computer at the weekend I will not allow myself to do anything work related – social or personal only and my iPad is banished into a drawer.
During the week, when I am in the office, I only set myself a maximum of 2 prioritised things to achieve each day and then concentrate on each of those to the exclusion of anything else until I am done If I finish my allocated tasks I no longer move on to a third. Instead I congratulate myself and fiddle with non-essential things or leave the office early.
If a job is proving troublesome or is just not working out the way I want it to I walk away from my desk and go and do something entirely different (in my case a spot of DIY or going out for a Nordic walk in the fresh air). Instead of trying to be one step ahead I recognise the importance of keeping my motivation and health.
I now self-impose a 6pm max finish time and stick to it ensuring my evenings are mine to indulge my hobbies or socialise with friends or family.
It’s not always easy. Old habits are hard to break once embedded however new habits are easily formed once you know how and gosh, has it made a difference. My productivity has actually increased and the quality of what I create has improved. Life is once again balanced, far more enjoyable and my body has stopped creaking!
So please remember: Yes, life is short which is why we need, and deserve, to make sure that we truly enjoy what we have of it. That does not mean working all the hours under the sun trying to get one step ahead.
Are you struggling to achieve balance in your professional life? Or maybe you can see your workforce needs to work smarter rather than harder? Pam Warren, motivational speaker, can help with workshops designed to build productivity and engaging presentations that empower and boost your staff morale. As a guest or keynote speaker Pam can help leaders improve business motivation. To learn more simply CONTACT PAM.