I recently started a new position with another institution and I must say that I’ve never been happier. All of the new and shiny feelings that come along with embarking on a new journey are present and my creative juices are flowing, particularly since this new position comes with oversight of a major initiative that is being piloted at this campus for freshmen students. My first week was a whirlwind of meetings and introductions as I worked tirelessly to be brought up to speed on my new job responsibilities and prepare this year’s freshmen class for their first semester. But as much as I was loving the challenges and excited for the opportunity to prove myself, within my first couple of weeks I was exhausted, and I found myself struggling to get through each day as my “to-do” list began piling up.
One of the pieces of advice that I always recommend to professionals making a transition from a career/job or even a personal relationship, is that you take the time to reflect on your previous experiences and hone in on the lessons learned. What were the takeaways? How can you apply what you learned from that old situation, to your new situation so that you can be an even greater asset? What old habits should be left in your past?
Because of some extenuating circumstances, I made the transition to my new job rather quickly, and realized that I hadn’t taken the time for self reflection. So I started the process by asking myself those very same questions.
What I realized was that one of the things that really burnt me out at my last job was being a workaholic. I rarely took time for myself. And I don’t just mean in the way of pampering myself, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy. I wasn’t investing in myself on a consistent basis. My poor brain would be so bogged down with the details of tasks that always needed to be done yesterday, that I wasn’t giving it the freedom to breathe on a daily basis and get some fresh oxygen to produce newer and smarter ideas to make my work more creative and efficient.
So to avoid making the same mistakes, what resulted from this “heart to heart”, was the creation of what I like to call the “Investing in Myself” Power Hour. This goes above and beyond me making sure that I take time to eat and refocus. It’s a dedicated time that I take to do something completely unrelated to work such as read or listen to something that will uplift, encourage, re-energize, instruct, or inspire me to be the best me. And I must say that it has worked wonders.
“Investing in Myself” Power Hour. This goes above and beyond me making sure that I take time to eat and refocus. It’s a dedicated time that I take to do something completely unrelated to work.”
So here’s what you do. If at all possible, I wouldn’t recommend taking the hour all at once. Take them in intervals (preferably, 15 minutes at a time) throughout your work day and read a couple of pages from a financial planning magazine article or a self-help book. Listen to a pod-cast about life management. Or watch an inspiring video on YouTube. Journal some of your thoughts on what you got out of the activity. Doing this helps to stimulate your brain in other ways and make you feel a bit more energized when you re-direct your focus back onto your work tasks.
Don’t believe this works? Don’t take my word for it. There’s a wealth of research out there that has indicated that the adult brain, on average, can stay on task for only about 20 minutes. Around that time, attention may start to shift for various reasons. At that point, you have a choice to make. Depending on the urgency of completing the task, you can choose to refocus on the task and push through until it’s completed and risk burn out, OR, you can give yourself a break and invest in yourself.
What are some ways that you give back to yourself?