I am notorious for my to do lists. I have sticky notes, weekly pads, appointment planner, sticky notes in Windows 7….you name it, I’m using it to plan what to do. And I work hard. My ideal schedule is four hours working on one project, then a break to have lunch, get out of the house, then come back and work for three to four more hours before calling it a day. Then, I can do what I want to do, which involves various writing projects. In fact, looking at my calendar of writing, it appears I’ll be working a couple more hours on those. But, it’s not “work” to me. These are all things I enjoy doing, so I don’t consider them work, though they are part of my self-employment.
Yet, even I have to put down the “to do” list and give myself time to veg. On my weekends, I generally allow myself at least three to four hours of down time watching television/movies/reading…something I consider leisure those nights. So how do you turn off the “to do” list and allow yourself downtime.
First, understand that you can only do so much. If you have put in a full day, or a reasonable effort, or even just done what you can, there’s no reason why you can’t take rest. Understand that you have limits. We all do. And working within them, or protecting them, is perfectly okay.
Second, schedule the time for taking care of you. For me, it was a set time that I’d work until. Once that time had passed, it didn’t matter if I still had work to do or not. I was done.
Then, get up and walk away. For those of us who work in home offices, getting away to another part of the house, changing positions like stretching out on a couch or in a recliner, can be all the zen we need to get away from our “to do” list. Don’t bring your blackberry, your laptop, your ipad, or anything that will allow to plug in and connect with you. Yeah, I’ve done that. Allow yourself time to relax.
It can be tough to put down the “to do” and take care of you. But it is so important to our physical and our mental health. So the next time you’ve worked hard all day. Put down the list. Step back. Take time for yourself and relax. I bet you’ll find that the next day you’ll return to your work refreshed, and ready to start all over again.