A recent Saturday began like most – coffee, pancakes, and some play time with my 6 month old daughter. Before long, my “task master” began reviewing the list of things to do both around the house and for work. As a new father and business owner, this list is lengthy.
Now if you are thinking that my task master is my wife, you are fortunately mistaken! I am referring to the internal part of me that loves projects and checking things off to-do lists. I am grateful in many ways for this part, for it keeps me productive and can be credited for many accomplishments. On the other hand, it knows no limits, and if left unchecked, will keep driving me to do more and more until I am either exhausted, sick, or both. Can you relate?
The preceding week had been busier than most and with little sleep (think 6 month old). I really didn’t feel like working. And while my task master was caffeinated and ready to go, I chose to take the morning off to go mountain biking in my favorite state park. Task master was not pleased with this choice, but I assured him that he would get his time to work later.
It was a beautiful day. I spent two hours alone in the woods on my bike amongst the trees, fresh fall air, sunshine, and mud. My mind was freed of all unnecessary thoughts and focused only on navigating the trail ahead. I finished the ride feeling energized, clear-minded, and extremely dirty. For me, this is true bliss.
My point in sharing this story is to remind you how important it is to spend time immersed in something you are passionate about that is not work, even if you are fortunate enough to have passion for your job.
For nearly every client I work with, making this shift from “doing” mode to “being” mode can also be a challenge. Together, we work to first identify their task master (some are unaware he/she even exists), find ways to negotiate with him/her, and then establish a firm commitment to scheduling time for a bike ride, a book, the beach, yoga class, a walk, whatever it may be. When we are fully engaged in these activities, or “in the zone” as I often am when cycling, we get to experience the joy of just being a human being.
It takes a conscious effort to identify and then deal with our inner task master (and the inner critic that may accuse you of being a “slacker”), but taking time for yourself is a gift in the long run. These breaks renew our vitality and creativity, and allow us to be more productive than if we had just kept forging ahead. Case in point, I wrote this newsletter later that evening.
So, get to know your own personal task master. Appreciate him/her for keeping you productive when needed, and also let them know you need time away for yourself now and then so that you can be even more powerful when you return.