One of the most counter-intuitive strategies to working efficiently and having more space in your life for what matters most is taking time to pause. I know, I know, you’re wondering how it is possible to get more done and spend time doing things we love (relaxing with friends, nature walks, passion hobby, family and/or your partner) if we actually pause?
You see, for most of us if we’re feeling “super busy” and just making it through the day we are living from our primitive brain. This is the part of our brain that wants to protect us from harm. Way back when we were hunters and gatherings, this was quite useful. The primitive brain was responsible from keeping us fed, keeping us safe from dangerous animals, and keeping us warm.
The issue is that many of us are living out of survival mode and habit—we’re living out of our primitive brain and we’re not accessing the entire brain. And, we’re so deep in our habits, that we cannot even see this. We think we cannot afford to stop working or stop running on the hamster wheel of life.
The way to counter this is by pausing.
If you’re really caught up in busyness, you’re not going to want to do it. I know I didn’t. In the Fall of 2018, I was working like a crazy person. I was working 50-60 hours per week (some of it quite stressful and draining) and I was so busy between working and just trying to do the essentials to get by such as keeping my apartment reasonably clean, making decent meals, and maintaining some level of health (debatable if I was even marginally successful at any of these).
It was so surprising though how I couldn’t see how counterproductive my obsessive work life was until I took 1 week off work. When I took time to PAUSE during this things became shockingly clear: I was burning the candle at both ends and this was no good for my health, business, or happiness.
Pausing can look a lot of different ways depending on your lifestyle, preferences, and needs.
Pausing can look like:
-taking time to just sit in the living room and drink tea for no reason
-1-4 hours of nothing planned
-a weekend vacation with just you (one of my favorites….trying to do this once a quarter)
-out to eat by yourself
-a walk in nature with no “goal”
-10 minutes of reflection at the end of the day
-getting the sleep you need
-hiring an virtual assistant to check your emails on the weekend so you don’t have to
-setting boundaries about when you work (or when you answer emails.
I know many of you have kids and lots of obligations. But, I do think this is a game changer even if you need to hire a sitter or make childcare arrangements. What I’ve seen in my own life is that the ROI on this is huge in cultivating calm, clarity, and insight.
So, what happened to me when I paused? I decided to cut my work down to about 35 hours per week (goal is 30, though I’m not there yet). I had time to do things that were very important to me—like meditation, yoga, and time with family. I also learned how to work SMARTER not HARDER, and with less stress I’m able to come up with better ideas.
Which one of the pause practices do you resonate with most? Try it out for a week…or a month and let us know in the comments!