Do. Do. Do. Do. Do. Do. Do. Not. Oops. Doing, again. Sigh. In today’s work world it can be hard to stop the do do. Something must be done about that.
I’ve been doing a lot lately. ‘Lately’ refers to the last twelve years. Things are better than they were about eight years ago when I was working seven days a week, usually at least ten hours a day, with about one day off every four months. Yep. That happened. (My Rule Of 7) Lately I’ve only been working about six days a week and with more reasonable hours, yet I need a break.
I remember talking to a shop owner about taking time off. We laughed. I recalled working a 40 hour work week with two days off every week, three weeks off a year – and getting paid to do nothing. She thought it was a joke, and quickly realized that it shouldn’t be. Despite her efforts, her business closed within a couple of years. It would be nice to know that lots of work led to more than enough compensation, but there are no guarantees.
The good news is that I am old enough to recognize when it is time for me to take some time off. Well, almost. I usually recognize that I need time off about a week after I should take a vacation. But hey, at least I finally notice. That’s an achievement.
Last week I noticed the signs: tight muscles, eye strain, muscles that want to move but must sit in one place for just another hour or three as the fingers work on the keyboard. OK. OK. I’ll take some time off.
Ah, but some things have to be done as soon as they are ready. Want to buy a house? That’s a limited time offer in this market. (required disclosure: I’m a broker at Dalton Realty, Inc. http://whidbeyrealtor.com/). I have four publications in work, and each has its own timing. The lawn must be mowed in the dry windows between storms. My photo essays require photos from every month, no excuses for bad weather or lighting.
No. No! NO! I’m going to take some time off. Ah, but there’s a company meeting and then there’s a class, and – doing becomes such a habit that not doing becomes something that requires practice.
Most people I know are energetic people. Even the people who are sitting on the couch watching shows are usually also doing art work or exercising at the same time. Freshly retired people find enough deferred tasks to tackle to fill about a year, but eventually there can be a sheepish moment when they realize they can take some time off without abandoning a project. (Pets and gardens can be temporarily tended by others. Really.)
The idea of doing nothing can almost feel like a threat.
I keep hearing news items about lazy people, but I don’t know any.
Here’s my solution. You’re reading it. When I finally realize that taking time off is no longer optional, I cheat. If I am taking more than a day off I spend the first day tending my guilt and my work anxiety. I take one small aspect of each job, touch on it enough to accomplish something, and move on. No expectations. No grand effort. Just do enough to keep the dust from settling. And move on to the next until that transition has transited.
A friend had a heart attack. Did that catch your attention? It caught mine.
It is hard to find the balance between doing and not doing when the doing hasn’t produced enough to fund the not doing. The pandemic made that even harder. The entrepreneurial life has always been known for its lack of guarantees of getting paid for the work that is done. A two year hiatus hasn’t helped. I suspect I am not alone in having spent the last two years working, and having the energy needed just as life is trying to come back to normal.
Is this the time to take time off, or is it the time to push just a bit more for a bit longer?
There is no one answer.
Partly inspired by my friend’s situation, I’m taking some time off, just a day or so because there’s a major work item due next week, but I and others are hoping for work finally working, doing leading to being able to do nothing, at least for a while without guilt and maybe even with some ease.