Even Small Changes Add Up
As you probably know, I work from home. For over 12 years, my sole job was homeschooling and raising our three daughters. It didn’t pay, monetarily.
It paid much better than that.
The transition to working in a home-based web publishing and web design business proved a little tough at first. It was like some sort of culture shock. A whole new world. Truth be told, it can still be hard to discipline myself to sit at my desk and work when there are so many other cool things I could be doing. Or not doing.
However, I soon recognized a direct correlation between the number of hours I put in and how much money I have for “extras” in life. Extras put a song in my heart and a smile on my face, so I’ve gotten pretty good at logging in the necessary hours. Plus, it helps that I absolutely love to write, research, and build blogs, websites, and even better – online relationships.
However, a few months ago, around 3 pm, I got up from my work time to head into the kitchen and begin supper. I didn’t feel satisfied like I usually did – you know, the feeling you get after putting in a good, honest day’s work. Actually, I felt overwhelmed and mentally fatigued. All I could think about was the correspondence I didn’t get done, the links I didn’t have time to add, blog plugins that were being hateful, etc.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a one day thing. I noticed that I started feeling this way just about every single day. Also, instead of being eager to turn the computer on, round up my coffee, information, books, and so forth – I started walking past the computer and kind of snarling at it. One day, it was acting up and I thought something was horribly wrong with it – the smile faded when it responded to a reboot.
I think it was evening the score for the snarls.
I knew that something wasn’t quite right because I normally race, coffee cup in hand, to get my day started. I answer my e-mail, update sites that need to be updated, write my reviews, compose my posts and articles, make graphics, install plugins, read and research, etc – all with a big smile on my face and a fat cat on my desk.
I had a heart to heart with myself – not out loud, of course, the kids worry when I do that. I came to suspect that I’d overextended myself. I sat down with my to do lists for the past week and realized that I was trying to do WAY too much. I looked at the front of my planner and saw that I, at that time, had a total of 16 blogs and 22 websites. All of that on top of being mom, wife, cook, homemaker, and someone who vaguely remembered how fun past times were.
The very next day, I started weeding through my websites and blogs. I asked myself, “Which of these would I be devastated if they were gone tomorrow?” I realized that there were quite a few that, when I got to them on the list, I would answer, “Eh” or “I’d never miss it.” So, when tomorrow came, they were indeed gone. I got rid of 5 blogs and even more websites. They had come to “cost” me more than they “rewarded” me.
Almost immediately, the old feelings of enthusiasm returned – before and after the work day. My computer and I became kindred spirits again. The feelings of being overwhelmed and stretched like a rubber band went away.
Sometimes making small, seemingly insignificant moves can alleviate stress in surprising ways.
If you’re feeling stressed in any way, take a good, close look at your life. What areas are causing you stress? Find ways to alleviate any stress you can – remember, every little move helps.
- Is your workload too heavy? If it is, lightening it will actually work out better in the long run. Being able to give MORE of yourself to FEWER projects results in better projects and a better you.
- Do you worry too much about others? Even if it’s your own children, try to make yourself realize that they will make mistakes, just as you have done. What’s more, they’ll survive and learn from them, just as you have.
- Is your house causing you a never-ending battle? Recruit help from other family members – don’t nag, that never looks attractive – just point out that you’re so busy lately that you’d appreciate it greatly if they’d help you out some. Then, when they do, praise their socks off! If you want results, you’ll get more with honey than with horseradish.
- Try to set aside a little time each evening to just enjoy life. Take a few hours and do something that others might call “wasting time.” I love to kick back and watch tv with my family. It’s great to spend time with them and it’s a nice experience to just do nothing. Truth be told, sometimes I embrace nothingness like a long lost relative. If your first reaction is, “I can’t take 2 hours to just do nothing, I have to do this and I have to do that…” – then I have to tell you, you’re heading (and speeding to get there) for trouble. If you don’t have the signs of being stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, or temperamental yet – they’re just around the corner. Hopefully, you’ll change your course before that corner arrives.
It’s funny, isn’t it, that so many people think they can’t slow down. They seem to equate being busy as treading water and fear that if they slow down, they’ll go under.
In actuality, they’ll find that they have more time to swim.
Oddly enough, I think part of the problem lies within this quote about computers, “No matter how fast your computer system runs, you will eventually come to think of it as slow.” Our generation has become so accustomed to fast forward and has gotten so used to dancing to the “Git ‘r done” tune that many of us see slowing down as standing still. Needless to say, we need to adjust that thinking before it’s too late.
We’d hate to have that realization hit us one day with one arm in a blood pressure cup as the other gestures in a how-did-this-happen motion. It’d be even worse, in my opinion, to have it dawn on us one day when our child is reliving his or her childhood and we realize that we’d missed a big chunk of the scenery.
The time to slow down is today. Tomorrow will be brighter because of it.