When was the last time you took a break from your business? Now I mean a real break, not just an hour here or an hour there? The kind of break where you don't think about your business, check your email (at any time), check your social media, or add a pile of things to your to-do list?
I'm a self-confessed workaholic. I've been rehabilitating off and on for many, many years and I've realized that for me, this is simply an everyday battle. Just like an alcoholic, it's not something that a weekend in Tahiti will fix, it's something that I have to work at every day. And from my experience, I'm not alone.
Many of the business owners that I have worked with over the years (and many of those I currently work with) have a major issue with managing their lives in amongst a ridiculous schedule and growing workload.
So I've just had four days off. I haven't done a single bit of work, I've been both crazy busy doing fun stuff and laying in bed doing nothing for half the day. I've slept, I've eaten, I've walked miles and I feel fantastic. My body feels great, but the biggest difference is how my brain feels. The fog is gone, the confusion is gone, the mental exhaustion is gone - and I can hear my brain thanking me for the break.
The reality of my world is like most business people, hundreds of emails every day, piles of social media messages to manage, SMS's, phone calls - work to do, follow up to be done, projects to manage and of course, a life to try and squeeze in. It's really hard to stay on top of this, hence why we burn ourselves out and treat our brain like a slave. How long will our poor brains put up with this kind of treatment?
Talk to any neuroscientist and the answer is "not long". Especially as our workloads keep increasing, the communication demands keep growing and our brains keep being overwhelmed for the vast majority of the day. And doing things like getting up in the middle of the night to check your email or social media is doing a lot more damage than we realize.
Like many things, it's hard to just incorporate a new activity in our day that will cure all of our ills. Often we need to take some kind of massive action, like go to a health farm for a week or have a holiday without taking our phone (I look for places with no telephone reception). For me, my four day break came as the result of a friend hijacking me and setting a schedule that had no room for work, no room for internet time, no room for social media, no room for anything other than play, relax, exercise, sleep, eat and recharge - for four glorious days. The difference is extraordinary and I'm left feeling the overwhelming need to do this far more often.
But the other reality that I know is that come tomorrow, the world will encroach and I'll be struggling to manage everything that comes my way. I'll feel overwhelmed, tired, fried and I'll be getting up in the night, fighting the urge to check my email. But that's ok because I've also made the biggest of realizations. I need to work on having a better life and lifestyle every single day of the week, not just once every few months or once a year.
This might sound simple to someone reading this, I get that. But to the true workaholics out there, those who do get up in the middle of the night and start checking their emails at 2.30pm, you know what I mean. You can feel the impending disaster coming your way and you know that you need to do something about it right now.
For me, it's simple. I've realized that I have to work on this every single day. I need to really rethink my priorities and what is actually important to me. And I have to make sure I have people in my life who will help me live this life because I'm not that good at doing it on my own. So there will be no more checking email in the middle of the night. One more step in the right direction.