I went to the mountains over memorial day weekend for five days and find myself just now getting back into the swing of things. They say that you don’t build muscle while you workout, that the muscle actually develops during times of rest. I think we forget that in our society, which is why we push-push-push ourselves so hard. Working long days, working through lunch, oversimplifying tasks in our minds so we can go-go-go.
I didn’t realize how much I’ve been overloading myself until I took a few days away from the computer screen, away from my to-do list and settled into the rhythm of life in the mountains. Instead of typing away at my laptop, my fingers were put to work weeding, a task that I found to become rhythmically meditative. Rather then rushing off to meetings, I took leisurely walks along the trails and listened to the musical choir of nature.
When I returned to “reality” I found myself overwhelmed, more specifically my brain felt completely overloaded. I felt like I’d lost my rhythm and was being drawn away from work to the place of restfulness and spaciousness I felt in the mountains. Than I read something by Madelyn Blair that peaked my interest. “30 years ago, we could keep 80% of the knowledge needed to do our jobs in our heads. Today, that has dropped to only 8%.”
Contrary to your first reaction, it isn’t because we’re getting dumber Think about it, 30 years ago computers were just being introduced to companies, the internet wasn’t even invented yet (let alone social media). And those that had computer technology were few and far between. Now everyone has multiple computer gadgets, smart phones, laptops, etc. etc. As a result of being hyper-connected, we are all exposed to more data in a day than people 100 years ago were over the course of their lifetime.
As I’ve reflected on how this mini-break effected me, I realized a few things that I’m now addressing. First, that the pace I’d set for myself before was unrealistic. Since I’m a solopreneur I have to draw boundaries because I can’t realistically do it all. Seth Godin wisely said in his recent blog post, Pest Control, “A big part of doing your work is defending your time and your attention so you can do your work.” And drawing boundaries is a continual process of making conscientious decisions based on my own needs/priorities and not based on what I “should” be doing.
Secondly, I’m not currently making the most efficient use of the resources at my disposal. Since reading Getting Things Done a few months ago I’ve started following some of his system but not to the fullest extent possible. I am still struggling with trying to keep everything in my mind rather then processing it through my magical, digital inbox. And if there’s one thing I can’t afford, it is to make more work for myself by being inefficient.
These are similar to the issues I help my clients overcome, how to be effective and successful while following your passion, and creating a positive impact. It really is a matter of continually evaluating, planning and acting. As Peter Drucker said, “strategic planning is not an event” and neither is learning something new. We all have to make time for resting, for really getting away from it all, for unplugging. Because it is in that quiet place where our minds are allowed to wander away from the all the hub-bub that we can truly grow to become the person we want to be.