I herewith admit that I am a workaholic. At least that is how I perceive myself. A normal working day for me is to stay on the computer all day until midnight or longer, unless I cut it off or I go dancing.
I work day and night and read books in my free time rather than going out to socialize. When I am out walking, I listen to audio-books or learn from Youtube channels. I´m educating myself while cooking my lunch rather than listening to music. I am building 3 websites at at time, not just one.
Whenever I have a new idea I keep writing or learning about it without stopping until my saturation point has arrived. That is alarming, but I am aware of this in every minute of my day.
My behavior is hazardous for my own health. And in today´s “always on” society it has become increasingly hard to draw the boundaries or – god forbid- do “nothing” for a while. We are reluctant to take time outs, afraid to “waste” time, afraid of missing out on something and we believe that «we don´t have time».
Does switching off the phone for an entire day or week sound like a nightmare to you? It does not for me but just takes a lot for me to actually bring myself to switch it off.
This is where discipline comes in. What? Yes, I have to be disciplined enough to take a day off and actually leave the computer alone for once. I have to use discipline to do my morning routines, just because I know they do me well and bring me forward. I learned most useful stoff from Brian Tracy. Have a look at his free videos on Youtube. He has been around for ages.
First step to Selfcare: Know thyself
I know, I have to be disciplined enough to work out because that is good for me and I do need a break from the screen. Why I cannot stop working earlier in the day:
Confession. I really hate getting up early. Always did and always will do. I might bring myself to getting up at 7am for a certain period of time, but no matter what I do, sooner or later, my own personal rhythm kicks in again. I go to bed around 2am and sleep 6-7hours minimum, which isn’t really much.
Starting work at 9am feels great for me. Even 10 is acceptable. Then I work most of the day, with 2 larger breaks until midnight and – unfortunately – sometimes longer. As much as I wish and hope for it, I cannot change myself no matter how much I would like it. Trust me, I have tried it for years.
Moreover, it wouldn’t even be handy to get up at 5 but come home at 3am from the Swing events (my other business being a journalist for Swing Dance Events).
So the best is to know myself, know how I react and when, in which frame I operate well and what is no good. The same is true with food and thoughts. But that leaves room for another post.
Acceptance is the second step, after self realization.
It is the way it is and I make the best of it. Because my behavior is dangerous for my own health, I have to take good care of myself. I have to learn certain skills to remain healthy and sane. Just like you, too. One skill is meditation. Most of you are probably applying this too. By the way, I sometimes do live meditation trainings through my Instagram profile, often on Sunday mornings and I am teaching meditation for beginners.
My mantra is: Whatever happens, I am NOT cutting the daily meditation. I have been meditating twice a day since my first Vipassana course in 2015. Before 2015 I was not meditating in such a disciplined manner, but I was meditating and running long distances daily.
What does running have to do with meditation? A lot. I personally think that running is similar to meditation. While running one has to concentrate on one thing, one cannot daydream about relaxing on an island or a cooking recipe. Usually, when I was running, I concentrated on that one goal. Therefore it was much like meditation.
Now unfortunately, running is no longer a topic for me, so I hold on tightly to my meditation. And I walk instead of running. And what is more important, I understand the way I function. And I adapt. That is, I believe, the most important thing on the way to becoming successful.
At the core of all self esteem lies self love. Do I value myself? Do I value what I do and what I stand for? Do my needs come before all other peoples needs?
If I need a few days off my phone, I don´t care who cannot reach me. They can leave a message, email me or call back if it´s important. If it is important they will. I simply let them solve their problem, not me. Of course when you serve to customers, choosing these days wisely is key.
Without self esteem and confidence I wouldn’t be able to think this way. That is very much a Buddha approach to let people handle their own problems them self.
We have to detach from this completely. And detaching our self from missing out on something. The world is not going to collapse and you are not going to lose your 50k followers on Instagram if you take a time out. If you do, then it is questionable why they followed you in the first place.
My favourite Youtube Channel for relaxing sleep or study music
And give yourself what you need: The Workaholic self care techniques
1) Never lose connection to your inner self.
Spirituality can be used a lot in practical ways. Just like this one:
No matter how much I work with my head, I have to keep the connection upright. If I don´t meditate, work out, rest and take enough breaks I will lose my connection to my inside and my business is in danger. Our body tells us exactly when it is time to shut down, take a break, hit the off button.
The trouble is just: Are we listening to our body?
Great anti-overwork techniques I use:
The pomodoro technique
Learned from Emilie Wapnick, who helped me understand that I am not crazy to be a multipotentialite to take note of my awesome gifts. Being more aware of myself and creating counter reactive little programs – such as the pomodoro tool – for myself is a huge gift.
The pomodoro technique is a simple tool which has a huge effect. Do you know what the pomodoro is? It is this little red tomato shaped kitchen clock which helps you time baking/cooking correctly, remember? I bet your grandma had one. Nowadays ovens typically have build-in timers. We know why!
Using the pomodoro or just simply the alarm clock makes me excel and get stuff done at the shortest time and fastest tempo. Sometimes I am amazed myself how quickly I got something done.
The secret of the pomodoro lies in the timing: The pomodoro can only reach up to 60 minutes. And do you know what? You don´t even need 60minutes! I use 40-50 minutes and maybe snooze once but then I am taking a break even if I don´t feel tired.
You will be amazed what you get accomplished in 40 minutes, or even less. After the break, I rinse and repeat. Then I continue this for as many times possible until my belly screams for lunch/dinner.
Build your personal day schedule
Another thing that helps me not to go over board is to apply a daily schedule. Imagine working a day job. Your schedule would be pretty much governed by the company/boss, so the easiest is to adapt a schedule like this.
If you want to work from 9-5, then do it. If you prefer 6-2pm go for it. Or something like 8-12 and 3-7. Whichever serves you best. During this time of course I wouldn’t accept calls, visits or other people stealing my time! No thanks!
Use fixed appointments to stop you at a certain time
Whenever I want to go dancing or meet with a friend, I know I can only work until a certain time. Then I have to eat, get ready and head off to town. This helps me tremendously when planning. On such days I know exactly that I have x amount of hours to reach my daily accomplishments and usually I reach them BECAUSE they were limited.
Last but not least: Planning
You all heard it before: Planning your tasks quickly the day before helps you accomplish much more, feel better and actually see that you have done a lot already. When I have traced off 2-3 items on the list or even all (sometimes) I know, that it´s ok to put down the pen and call it a day. Even if it is only 4pm.
Usually planning the day before produces the best results, combined with having a weekly or monthly schedule.
The more stressed you are, the more time you should spend meditating.
2) Adapt a Mediterranean lifestyle
Spending a lot of time in Crete, I have come to understand why people love being here. Here it´s all about being slow, about enjoying to sit in the cafe and do nothing, about enjoying a meal and taking 3 hours to eat or just observe the boats coming in and going out of the harbor.
This slowness is celebrated and it IS rectified. It has got to be like this. Things come to you, there is no need to chase them. There is a time for work and there is a time for play.
But, I hate to spoil it all for you: People love to just be lethargic here, that is when it goes to the other extreme. Sometimes it can be very challenging to get work done there. But here one can really develop discipline and survival techniques. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Play is needed to feed enthusiasm and energy to work again. And work makes us hungry for play in reverse. — and tired.