Thursday, 28 March 2013

And Relaxxxxxxx - Thoughts On Downtime

With the long Easter weekend almost upon us, I'm sure there are plenty of wedding professionals out there experiencing that state of perpetual confusion experienced by many of us - whether to work or to take some time out.

When you run your own business, there's no 'home time', there's no-one from HR e-mailing you with your annual leave entitlement form and, quite crucially, there's no-one from Finance merrily paying money into your bank account every month.

It's all you. You are responsible for everything.

And 'everything' takes a lot of time. It takes a huge amount of time and then of course, there are the weddings themselves. Long, busy, hard days that are absolutely full of joy but, because we tend to love our clients and want to give them the best, they require total concentration and commitment and that's tiring

Then, when you're back from the wedding, the usual schedule of work at HQ tends to continue straight away. Downtime is rare. There's also the pressing need to 'get yourself out there' - to blog, to tweet, to Instagram, to Pin, to promote, to plan, to network and to build a personality and a brand. It can feel like a merry-go-round that spins a little too quickly and never stops.

But, there's plenty of research that says this continual need to be in the thick of it is totally counter-productive. That we should be contactable but not permanently available, that we should keep stuff back and not share everything, that we should actually do less if we want to do better. Being addicted to work and always being on call might be more socially acceptable than necking a bottle of vodka every day but it can still be incredibly damaging.

As a wise-man once wrote - "You'll never ever get everything done so stop worrying about it." And he's right. We are the ones that make everything on our schedule seem so gut-bustingly important. Perhaps we like to play the in-demand, always busy, bordering-on-being-an-inhumanly-amazing person. But really, didn't most of us get into working for ourselves so we didn't have to be a slave to anyone, let alone to ourselves?

And the thing is, when we whip ourselves into the fakey frenzy of imagined emergencies, we quite often do silly things - whether it's making a crazy decision or snapping at someone who didn't deserve it. Slowing down makes everything better and when you're in a better state, you do better work, you are a more attractive person to be around, you're rested, positive and less resentful of everything and everyone that's taking up your time. Which they're not, by the way. You're allowing them to take your time and your energy.

So, this weekend, give any of the following a try...
  1. Have a little think back on the year so far. As my wise man said "reflection is one of the most underused yet most powerful tool for success." What's worked? What's gone well? What can you make better? 
  2. Practice stepping away from your phone/laptop/iPad for a little while. Give your time to your family and friends, the people who are there with you. Share real things with them. In researching this piece, I read an article where the author called our love of social media "the e-leash" which is pretty accurate.
  3.  Jump around a bit. Oh yes, this one works wonderfully. When you're getting sucked into something, make a conscious decision to jump around. On the spot, up and down for a minute or so. This has lots of benefits - it 'breaks' our state, it will usually make you smile and that little break is often enough to give you time to work out if you really need to go back to doing what you were doing.
  4. Write down who you are without mentioning anything about your work. It's great to love what you do but you're more than that right? Just remind yourself about the rest of you.
  5. Make a memory. Do something this weekend that you'll remember for a long time and even better, share it with someone else. 
So, even though it feels like you might not have time to relax, I bet you can find find some time this weekend to do just that. You just have to prioritise and surely, when you're the one that everything rests on, you're the one that needs to be in good shape so taking some time out is pretty damn important really. 

Have a great Easter weekend, eat chocolate, do things to make yourself happy, take a break and we'll see you on the flip-side...

If, in best BBC voiceover styleee, you've been affected by any of the issues in today's piece, you might like to take a look at the following links - Are You A Workaholic?, Workaholic, Understanding The Dynamics of Workaholism. Or, shut your laptop off and go and talk to someone.

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