So last week, I had a head cold. No big deal. These things happen. But it’s always tough when you’re planning your week on a Sunday, and then on Monday morning you have to rethink everything because you can just tell at some point during the day you’re going to need to go back to bed.
Now, I tend to overplan. It’s my standard operating procedure. And I’ve learned over time to pause after I’ve put together my dream to-do list and consider how much time I have in the day… and then to trim away items until my list is reasonable. I’ve also learned over the years to plan work hours and to plan time for non-work things that are important to me, like writing fiction, going for hikes, and hanging out with my family.
So, when I get sick, my tendency is to try to dig my heels in and convince myself I can still get it all done.
That’s a reaction I have a lot. To be stubborn in the face of unexpected circumstances.
This time around, I decided to be kind to myself.
I took a breath, looked at both the work and non-work items on my list, and decided on a plan of action.
The holidays are coming up fast. I don’t want to get behind on work because that will lead to awkward moments where I’m torn between meeting a deadline and participating in holiday traditions. Not a good choice to have to make.
So, in the face of my head cold, I decided to spread out what is normally a six-hour workday into 10 or 11 hours. I worked for an hour or two, and then I took a nap. I repeated that until I finished my planned work.
And I didn’t worry about anything else.
I released myself from writing, from tidying up the house, from walking the dog… I took everything else off my list and gave myself permission to just do nothing. And it worked. I was really only sapped of energy for two days… and then I was back on my feet.
When I refuse to give any ground, it’s not uncommon for a cold to muck up my schedule for a week or more.
Now, you may be thinking it just sounds like common sense to cut yourself some slack when you’re sick. And it is. But be honest, how often do you apply this particular bit of common sense to yourself? Or do you give room to everyone else to be kind to themselves and then really turn the screws on yourself?
If you’re like me, it’s hard to let go of the things you want to get done. But when you’re sick or stressed or overwhelmed, it’s actually more productive to slow down and cut back a little bit.
In this case, I gave work the highest priority, but if the holidays weren’t coming up, I might have taken a different approach and done a bit of work and a bit of writing. Who knows? The important thing was, I recognized that I was going to need time for extra rest, and I allowed myself that time. The result was less stress, less frustration… and less time spent being sick.
So my challenge to you going into the holidays is to make a deliberate effort to be kind to yourself when you need it.
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November 16: This Thursday at noon ET, I invite you to join me for a live webinar. During this webinar, I’ll give you seven of my favorite tools and tricks for maintaining your productivity, even when you’re being pulled in every direction imaginable. Use what you learn here to finish the year strong… and get 2018 off to a great start.
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