Last week it happened. I broke down. Like ugly cried all day, waved my hands around in frustration, and complained to my husband about life (and people). Any sane person could see that it was bound to happen. We’re out of our home and routines. We’re rebuilding, which comes with its own headaches. I feel like every other day I’m afraid that I might be homeless again. I’m working like a mad woman, definitely not utilizing my team enough. I’m negotiating what I swear are some of THE hardest deals of my entire career. I put a booth in an antique store and bought an investment property that needs just as much work as our home. Just to name a few.
Clearly after a day of riding that emotional rollercoaster hard and fast, I knew something had to give. I didn’t want to give up any of my projects, so I decided to make a few small changes instead. Here are a few, in case you need to practice better break-taking too:
- I’m not carrying my phone with me to the bathroom. I have quite a habit of carrying my phone everywhere I go. Especially the bathroom. My reasoning is that I can use the time walking back from the bathroom to respond to texts and emails. That might seem like a productivity trait. However, here’s what happens. First, if I’m looking down at my phone as I pass by all of the offices and real people along the way, I miss them. I barely say hello. I don’t ask about their lives. I don’t pause for conversation about new listings or troubleshooting in negotiations. I surely don’t offer help. I’m a busy lady! Secondly, if the phone rings while I’m in the bathroom, I legit try to pee faster so I can answer it before it goes to voicemail. That’s nuts. State labor laws mandate that employees get a certain number of breaks per day as well as a true lunch break. (What?! Is that real?) I don’t even give myself 3 minutes to walk to the bathroom! For now, I’m giving myself that time. I understand that I’ll come back to 25 unanswered text messages. However, I’m gaining 3-5 minutes of peace. Sign me up for that.
- I must find time to relax and hobbies that aren’t directly related to my work. Both fortunately and unfortunately, the things I enjoy doing are very closely related to my “work.” Therefore, during my down time, whatever I find myself doing can easily cross over from down time to work and next thing I know, I didn’t clear my mind or rest at all. I think I’m learning that I don’t actually know how to “rest” at all and that I don’t have any hobbies that allow me to truly relax. Not good. And I don’t even know where to start with figuring that one out. Any help?
- I will take days (or at least half days) off where I transfer my calls and delegate out my texts and emails. Since I use my personal cell for work, my work can easily follow me everywhere. Even to the bathroom (see above). The fact of the matter is, I have a well-trained team of professionals who can troubleshoot and handle business, just as well as I can. I pay two full-time salaried folks to help me. I simply MUST unplug and allow them to do their jobs (and mine) every now and then in order to actually get a break. Otherwise, I eventually become a hot, crazy mess. I finally took an actual day off and it was the most amazing thing ever. Better than my birthday. I feel like a brand new person. I’m inspired, rested, and eager to work. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! It feels awesome.
- I need to set clearer boundaries, both for myself and for others. For example, I’m not available to chat real estate at midnight. I’m not going to answer a contractor’s question at 5:50 am. For most people who only share their office phone number, they would only get these messages between their regular office hours and everything else would just have to wait. They’d be at home watching Game of Thrones, oblivious that their office phone was ringing off the hook. Since I give out all of my contact info, folks can track me down at all times. This means, I never get to turn my work brain off. I don’t get to unplug or rest. I need to practice setting more clear boundaries and holding myself accountable to those. I can be accessible without being a slave to my work and my phone.
As I write this I immediately see 1,000 ways that I’ll cheat. It’s so easy! And most of the time I even want to. I do not, however, want to lose and entire day of productivity recuperating from not taking a break. Seriously guys, I’m the worst boss of myself possible. I’ve written a few things on this topic that I haven’t shared and maybe I should get around to that. Also, something similar here and here.
Clearly, this is an ongoing struggle for me. I’ve read several articles about set break time and rejuvenation. I already understand the importance. I just don’t do it. Anyone else struggle with this? If you have some tips for doing better, I’m all ears. You can leave a comment, email me, or call me after midnight. Kidding. Don’t do that last one. I’m setting boundaries now.