I should probably start out this post by saying that I’ve never had a normal week two weeks in a row.
For my life as a work-at-home mom, normal is extremely rare.
And so that is exactly why I set out to start taking back my life these last few weeks by focing myself — and then learning to — take 3-hour breaks that I affectionally call Be Shawn breaks.
As I wrote in my last post, I’m experimenting with ONE small tip I picked up in The 12-Week Work Year a book about productivity and planning your life just 12 weeks at a time rather than a whole year at a time.
I’ve always been someone who advocates for slow living, not doing too much and I live by a less is more life philosophy and mantra.
That said, until these last few weeks, that meant short breaks here and there – or when forced to.
But this 3-hour chunk of time where I get to be all in as myself — not the mom and not creating or writing or working — was absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to keep doing it.
Here’s why it worked for me:
- Three hours is an extremely long time and it forces you to let go of The List of things you know you really ought to be doing. So this ultimately reinforces my own life practice of living abundantly … by simply letting life just sit and wait for me to return to it. This gave me a new sense of control. That I can leave. I can walk away. And the world won’t fall apart. I’ll take this lesson into motherhood as well.
- Three hours is enough time to really nourish yourself. Unplugged, disconnected and yet fully plugged in and connected to YOURSELF. Bliss.
- It’s only three hours. In the beginning, I’ll be honest three hours felt like a crazy long amount of time to be away from my to-do lists. But after three weeks, I quickly started seeing it as it really was. Just three hours.
- When I did return to my desk to work — or to my children — I felt much more fresh and clear — which is a big, big part of how I get things done so easily and quickly. This, in fact, did make me do more important things first and I often found I wasn’t bothering with the lesser important things — which means I was more productive than ever.
What did not work for me:
Because my work hours are so sporadic and varied and because I only get so much time to do my work while my children are in school, I ended up having to take my three hours this week to do something I might not have chosen — such as a medical procedure.
To compensate that, though, I took a shorter, two-hour break on another day. I wasn’t as productive or focused all week and so this tells me that on the weeks when I can’t do a nourishing three-hour break, I’ll just skip it and return to it the following week when it is possible.
This is also going to be a hard habit to stick to during the summer when my girls are out of school but I’m very interested in trying it anyway — perhaps while they are in camps, etc.
The Next Challenge
Up next on my list of experiments is creating a 10 in 10 list and sticking to it. I found this idea on a blog by David Seah and I’ve already begun testing it out.
The idea is pretty simple.
Write a list of 10 things you want to get done in the next 10 hours.
Always the creative tweaker, I can see this as being 8 in 8 or 12 in 12 or 40 in 40.
This concept is actually one he picked up through the gaming in industry. His mission is to collect points for each of the items on his life. I’m not a gamer and points don’t interest me — but checking this off a long list of to-dos so I feel productive for the week is a BIG motivator for me.
I’ll share how this test goes next week!