During this frenzied time of readying for the holidays, it’s easy to forget this interval is intended as a rest break for self renewal.
Compounding this problem is the mentality that prompts us to continuously check our e-mail accounts to ensure we are “in the loop.” Dorie Clark mentions this type of reinforcement acts as a “slot machine for your brain” in that we feel satisfaction in finding info upon retrieval.
During the next two days, try finding that feeling of satisfaction in a personal relationship and go cold turkey from e-mail. What’s the worst that can happen? Clark describes her vacation long e-mail fast of twelve days (and the subsequent realization that most things did not require immediate attention).
During the holiday break, try some of the following techniques to induce tranquility:
- Unplug completely. This is particularly difficult for those used to checking e-mail first thing in the morning (and particularly for those who work primarily online). Avoid the room you call your “at home office” and concentrate instead on activities that give you pleasure and help you unwind. As I write this blog post, I’ve already scheduled some self-nurturing activities for next week. Ironically, some individuals actually suffer from “leisure illness,” in which they feel sick when they’re not working.
- Catch up on your sleep. In his post “How to accomplish more by doing less” Schwartz argues we should work smarter, not harder, and that regularly scheduled breaks actually stoke our reservoir of energetic fuel. He explains that world class violinists in a week sleep sixteen more hours than the average American, getting eight more hours shuteye (on average) per night. Extending this logic of rest breaks to recharging for the coming year, a diversion of our time to non-work related pursuits this holiday is in order. That way, 2012 can be faced with a fresh outlook and a willingness to dive into new projects.
- Exercise. Walking in the morning for a mile sparks some of my best ideas. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other, the creation of a methodical rhythm soothes my overstimulated senses and grounds me in a way that sitting in front a television set simply fails to accomplish.
- Focus on your family. A wise individual once told me that what’s important in life is “faith, family, and friends.” The people we take for granted are the mainstay of our social support. Use the break to reconnect, express your gratitude, and do something special for your family – both biological and “adopted.” Recognize that when you die no one is going to care how much you worked, and that career achievements are never posted on peoples’ headstones. Strong personal ties as you age are the only things that truly matter. Acknowledge your loved ones’ importance in the present.
- Use your stash. We can obtain ubiquity by working in advance – by releasing pre-prepared tweets (via a platform like tweetdeck), or by scheduling blog posts to appear at predetermined dates. Working ahead requires more advanced planning, but reaps the dividends of a cleared deck.
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