Can the thing you need the most be the thing that can do you the most harm?
OK, that might be a bit of hyperbole.
But after my experiences the last several days, I’m trying to wrap my head around a potentially serious side effect of something that, until now, I’d have only categorized as a Very Good Thing (apologies to Martha Stewart).
See, those of us in the solo-biz biz are used to breakneck speeds and juggling lots of balls at the same time.
We are, in short, used to living very near or in the vicinity of burnout.
And when we get to that point, what’s the one thing we all say we need?
And it’s not just us.
Conventional wisdom tells us that one of the best things we couch warriors and solo freelancers can do for our productivity is to take a break – an actual vacation.
If you’re unfamiliar with that word – as many couch warriors are – allow me to define:
Absolutely nothing. And they’re good things to have – essential, even.
So what’s the damage, then?
Well, it’s this weird thing that apparently happens, at least to some of us …
Creatures of Habit, We Are
It seems that some of us (ahem) can really get knocked for a loop when the usual same-old, same-old gets disrupted — even in a positive or fun way.
This first hit me a few months back when Steph, a client, reported back to me after her first vacation without the kids or her parents in years. I was excited to hear from her – expecting to hear all about the fun things she did, the books she read, the time she spent doing nothing related to work…
Well, I was partly right. She didn’t work. But almost as soon as she set foot back in the door of her home, she said that she felt like the universe was conspiring to punish her for taking time off.
Nothing went right. Technological hiccups and phone malfunctions aside, there was something deeper, something personal at work.
She just couldn’t manage to make herself tackle the work task list. Things that had been annoying distractions before the vacation became insurmountable roadblocks after it was over.
It wasn’t that she hadn’t enjoyed the vacation – she had. Immensely.
And maybe that was the problem.
I coached her through about four full weeks of an intense struggle to get back on track with her work tasks, and eventually she got there.
But I remembered that struggle – how intense it was, how much sheer will and teeth-clenching determination it took for her – this past week in particular.
I’ve been dog-and-house-sitting for my brother and sister in law while they visit Europe for almost three weeks. The kid’s visiting her dad. The house I’m in is out in the country. The dogs are great – quite low-maintenance and affectionate. There’s no TV (but there is wifi!) and in short, it’s just an ideal place to pump up the productivity and really crank through some projects on my list.
Well, I’ve been here seven days now and I’m still waiting …
Not entirely true. I’m not just waiting. I am getting stuff done.
But it’s harder than it ought to be. It’s the tooth-pulling kind of productivity — not the easy, river-flow kind.
There’s no getting around this fact for me: The change in scenery has thrown me off my productivity game.
Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever gotten back from vacation or a business trip and just been thoroughly thrown? Felt all out of alignment and slightly whacked?
The next post is going to share some things I’ve learned from coaching Steph and from my own experiences here lately. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories.
Share ’em below in the comments!