Recharging Your Batteries
Suddenly last week I got tired. I felt bored with what I was working on, didn’t have the energy to start anything new, and simply was fed up with all the projects on my plate. Then I got nervous – how could this happen?
Just a few days ago I was sharing how happy I’ve been since opening my own marketing consulting business. How I love the freedom. How I love the variety of working on different types of projects with different types of clients in all sorts of industries (all high tech, mind you). The great feeling of helping companies make their mark and reach their target markets. Was I living an illusion? Absolutely not.
So what happened?
The day I realized I was tired was the same day one of the entrepreneurs I’ve been working with was presenting at an important industry conference. I had helped them prepare for the speaking engagement, had crafted the call for papers, and of course worked hand-in-hand with them on the presentation, how it should look, what to say, and how to say it. I had worked during the weekend on making last minute changes, and through the early part of the following week giving and taking feedback, and updating the materials. Even when I was between phone calls or emails related to this preparation, I was constantly checking my mobile phone, and thinking about what I needed to do next. Until finally (finally!) they were ready, & off they went to the conference.
Now it was time for me to devote time to the other projects waiting on my to-do list, that had been, for the most part, shoved aside briefly during this flurry of deadline-based activity. When I realized I couldn’t motivate myself to start, I took stock. Besides working for several days straight, through the weekend, I suddenly realized I had been working this way for several months already, setting up this new business, The Lean Marketer, which had pretty much taken over my life. This last spurt of activity over the past few days was simply the proverbial straw.
I had missed my weekend, missed my kids, missed taking a walk outside, missed ME time. The suddenness of reaching my limit took me by surprise, and manifested itself in a feeling of boredom, lack of creative energy, lack of all desire to sit with my fingers touching the keyboard or my brain turning over one more phrase of copy.
I realized – after a “management meeting” with myself (aka some soul searching) – that some battery-recharging was in order. And I’m not talking about my phone battery….So I took some time off. Spent time with my kids (best therapy ever), downloaded the New Yorker to my Kindle, caught up on some TV shows I’d taped weeks earlier, and basically spent some time consciously NOT working, so that the next time I went back to work, the results would be that much better. And they were.
I see lots of entrepreneurs that have seemingly endless energy, and are completely devoted to their vision. They work long hours, weekends, and they travel abroad often, with breakneck meeting schedules in every city they visit. This is, at times, absolutely necessary. But the reason for this post is to remind us all (turns out ME especially) that there is a time for work, and there is a time for NOT working. If you are all work 24/7, over time, the work will begin to suffer, and you will not be able to fulfill the vision that got you started in the first place.
The ironic thing is that usually one of the most important things to do to “recharge your batteries” is to “unplug” yourself – unplug from email, from twitter, etc. Everyone has different ways of “unplugging” and “recharging” – some do it at the gym, some in nature, some in novels, with friends or family – but this process is important, far beyond the obvious fact that it helps make the work time as productive as possible. Each of us has different needs for non-work time, just as each of us needs different amounts of sleep, or different quantities of food to make us feel satisfied. And it’s no accident that sleep & food are the metaphors I’ve chosen, since this recharging, non-working time is just as fundamental.
What are some ways you recharge your batteries? Please share in the comments.
Image by Flickr user Sujaux_