Extra Mile Writing

Extra Mile Writing

Block some time off Before you die of Exhaustion

dirty mechanic's hand

Small business people have the most amazing work ethics.  They work whenever they can.  They’ll often even use their weekends, public holidays and evenings to squeeze more work in. 

They love to get their hands dirty and to make beautiful things happen.

But they can also easily kill themselves with exhaustion, if they’re always on full speed.  If they were a motorbike, you’d say that a lot of small business people are always in top gear on full revs, never letting themselves drop down to idle in neutral.  And of course, the engine on this kind of motorbike is going to come to a screaming halt one day due to too much heavy use.  

person riding motorbike

It makes sense that we need to replenish our energy stocks.  We are not machines, but even machines won’t last with heavy use that goes on without a break. 

Continuing to race without a break in sight simply leads us to becoming completely ineffective over time.  We lose our creativity, our inspiration and our zest.  And we lose our ability to see the bigger picture and to allocate our time wisely, because we’re in survival mode.

man hiking in nature

On the weekend just gone, I made some time to rest.  I allowed myself to sleep in on both days, and I’m taking some time off from one of the sports I normally play on weekends.  And I have to say, this was just beautiful.  While I still woke up early to let my chooks out on Sunday, I snuggled back into bed and fell back into a beautiful sleep, eventually waking at 8.30 am.  I actually felt good then, rather than how I feel some days when I force myself out of bed, gritting my teeth to get through another day.

piglets sleeping

I was also proud of myself for recognising that I needed to reduce the number of competing demands on my time, and the fact that I took action to shift some things off my list for a little while.  My sporting pursuit won’t disappear if I’m not there for a few months, it’s an opt-in recreational sport rather than a team sport and no one is relying on me to turn up each week.  And the best thing is, I can still achieve the goal I set for this sport by the end of the year. 

Mind you, I had to get pretty bloody exhausted before I decided to cut back on a few things.  Human beings have a tendency to wait until things can’t get any worse before they take action, and I’m a great example of this.  I habitually wait until I’ve absolutely bought myself to my knees and I’m a sobbing red-faced hysterical mess before I take action on absolutely any area of my life. 

crying face picture

It’s important to note that carving out some time for yourself can feel weird when you’ve been running on full bore for months.  If this is you, I recommend grabbing a pen and a blank notepad or a journal when you first do it.  This helps you in two ways, it gives you something to do with your hands so you feel less stressed out by this odd experience of trying to relax, and it allows you to record your thoughts so you can get back in touch with your beautiful self.

journal

Another recent achievement that I’m very proud of is that I’ve finally taken holidays, a one week holiday last year and a two week holiday this year.  I didn’t organise going anywhere, my primary goal at this point was simply to plan a holiday and then have some time off at home.  It’s awfully embarrassing, but I’d spent approximately 30 years of adulthood thinking someone else was going to organise a holiday for me.  I’m not sure if I thought that there was some kind of holiday fairy that was going to take responsibility for my life and take action for me, because I certainly wasn’t taking any. 

This is even more embarrassing to admit because taking control of your life and planning a holiday is actually super easy.  It really is just a simple matter of grabbing your diary or your calendar and marking when you’re going to take a break.

fairy wearing green dress

And do you know what the best part was?  In my latest holiday I grabbed my diary and absolutely delighted in planning my next holiday.  It’ll only be a week and it won’t be expensive, but it will be beautiful and it will break up the year nicely.  And I’ve finally learnt from experience, this time I’ve also diarised when I had to put messages up on my business social media to advise of a break in communication, and when I needed to put auto reply messages on my email and phone, so that I don’t get caught with my pants down.  It’s an awful feeling when you find yourself having to work during your holidays because you haven’t communicated to clients that you’re going to be on a break and you only have yourself to blame. 

Because let’s face it, planning your own time and your own year is one of the best things about running your own business.  I love writing things into my diary, even though I do have a tendency to write too many things in each day.  I can reduce the number of things on each day’s list, and get better at allocating my time.  The main thing is that I’m the one doing the writing, not someone else.

 

© Annemaree Jensen