Ah, the sweet smells and sounds of Summer are here. Hopefully, the pressures of life and work have eased up a bit, at least for the next few weeks. With my wife teaching at colleges full time and a son in junior high, our life tends to revolve around the school schedule, so right now we have a few moments to slow down and review our lives and see where we might be headed next.
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It is easy for thoughts, tasks and projects to get lost during the height of the work and school year. There is simply so much competing for our time that it is inevitable that some things get shuffled off into storage or forgotten entirely. I realized the other day that I hadn’t picked up my guitar in months. I love playing guitar, but finding the time — any time — to sit and play just wasn’t in my schedule. I was busy, and due to being so busy, more tired than I normally might be. This is a dark road that leads to hours spent staring at the computer or the television.
If you have found yourself a little overwhelmed lately, now is the time to sit back with a cool beverage in a nice quiet spot and reflect on what the rest of the year has to offer. Sure you might be running around doing vacation worthy things, but there are always those down times in the evening when things get quiet and you can take a little time to think. For some of us, the beach is calling, but what a wonderful place to kick back and spend a little time on yourself, instead of your work.
First, take an inventory of those things you haven’t done in a while. I mentioned my guitar, but I am sure you have missed out on baseball games, gardening, bike rides, cooking and a host of other activities that you love. Think back over the last 12 months and try to see where they fell off your schedule. I can guarantee you that as you remember one thing it will trigger a host of other activities that have completely slipped your mind. Write them down and then, if you can, do one of them immediately. Pull out the guitar. Grab your tennis racket. Pick up your pen and have at it.
We hear a lot today about how we have to focus on one task, one job, one career with laser-like precision in order to be successful. I know that, for me, it is the moments away — the breaks — that enhance my productivity the most. Sure, I can hammer away a project for hours when needed, but I also need those frequent breaks that refresh and recharge me so I can go back and do even more and better quality work. I think you can benefit from that, too.
There is a law of diminishing returns when we are pushing for a deadline. We might be able to pull and all-nighter, but I question the quality of the work that results. This is often where errors creep in — bugs in programs, typos in documents, driving accidents. As humans we need breaks, both mental and physical. Don’t deny yourself or you might reduce both the quality and quantity of your work.
What haven’t you done lately that you really enjoy? Make a list and take the time to do one of them today. I am sure both your head and heart will benefit!