‘I’m super busy...sorry, can’t talk right now’
This is what I’d often write or say to people contacting me with a question. And I often hear it from others too.
In the past, I almost felt proud of my busyness. Society seems to think it’s cool to be busy .. to be a workaholic. No wonder 1 in 6 employees now work more than 60 hours a week, with full time employees in the U.K. work the longest hours in Europe.
- Think of how you can free up more time to work.
- Spend much more time working than initially intended.
- Work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, or depression.
- Have been told by others to cut down on work but you don't listen.
- Become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- De-prioritize hobbies, leisure activities, or exercise because of your work.
- Work so much that it has negatively affected your health. More...
Do take a moment to go back and read the above bullet points again slowly - these points are so common for so many of us.
Taking regular breaks lets you be more productive and creative. But being a workaholic’s a big issue not just for you but for those around you, too. If you’re married you’re twice as likely to end up divorced, and your kids have a greater chance of experiencing depression and anxiety than if you’re an alcoholic. Not to mention your own risks of premature death, anxiety, depression, insomnia and weight gain.
Am I a workaholic?
Being busy and almost a workaholic used to come naturally to me. I’ve completed two Master's degrees and stopped myself after almost finishing a third one, published five books and started multiple businesses (including a Museum). I’ve also travelled to about 20 different countries, trained hundreds of mindfulness teachers, taught thousands of children, and given talks and workshops at multiple conferences worldwide.
This year alone I’ve written 35 blog posts and am currently working on three different books with different people. The list goes on!
And I don’t even have children - if any of you do, I think the amount of work that entails is far more than all of what I’ve listed by a long way.
I used to fill my calendar with tasks. There were no days off. I squeezed in time for meditation. Life was a constant rush.
But this year I’ve also discovered the power of days off, of letting the day unfold.
Discovering the ‘Letting Go’ day
What is a “Letting Go” day? It’s a day when you leave your phone behind and just explore. A day to deliberately let go of your responsibilities and worries and just live in the moment.
And I’ve discovered through taking these days off that I’m refreshed and better able to help more people. I’m able to make much more time to spend with friends and family, too.
Five tips for a successful ‘Letting Go Day’
- Dedicate 24 hours of letting go. If you want to do this, go ahead and put it in your calendar now. It can be from midnight to midnight. If you can do more, that’s even better! But if you’re new to this, start with a 24 hour challenge.
- Plan some activities. If you’re a beginner to a Letting Go Day, you may need to plan some activities, as just doing nothing and letting the day unfold may be too much to begin with. Consider what activities you find fun, enjoyable or relaxing, and go ahead and do them on that day. Then, with more experience, experiment with having absolutely no plan for the day, and letting it unfold naturally.
- Switch your phone off and lock it away somewhere. For me, as for many of you, my phone and my computer are the most distracting things I own. Let people know you’ll be offline the day before so they don’t even try to contact you. This way if you are tempted to switch your phone on, most likely you’ll have no messages waiting anyway! If you’re completely addicted to your phone, leaving home without it guarantees you can’t use it!
- Do activities unrelated to your work. Even if you enjoy your work! Sometimes workaholics kid themselves into thinking that just because their work’s in line with their passion, they need to work 24/7. But by trying something different you expand your mind and come back to your work with a fresher, more creative perspective.
- Give permission to yourself to treat yourself and others. You could go and get a massage, and treat someone else to a massage too! You could take your friend out to a local coffee shop. You could go for a walk in the woods with your family - lots of research shows that being in nature is tremendously good for your health and happiness. What else could you do?
Working excessively long hours without taking a break isn’t a good idea for many reasons. Your lack of productivity and reduced creativity will mean you’ll not only more likely to feel unhealthy and unhappy, you’ll get less done too.
A day of letting go, once a week or even once a month, is a great way to recharge, renew and rejuvenate.
And your friends, family and colleagues will thank you for it!
So, go to your calendar and book in a day of letting go. Treat yourself to at least 24 hours without your phone and other distractions.
I’m committed to having at least one ‘Letting Go’ day every week. Two if I can. It’s like a day of mindfulness and kindfulness for me. I’m very fortunate I’m in a position to be able to do that. It does feel a bit selfish, but I know it’ll help me to better serve those around me in the short and long term. I hope you’re able to organise such a day for yourself too.
Any thoughts on this post? Are you a bit of a workaholic? Fancy trying a Letting Go day? Leave a comment and let’s chat!