Wake up earlier.
Get more done.
Schedule more meetings.
Release the need for time off.
Unconsciously, that’s been my strategy for running this business for a long time. I talk about the value of time off and the power of nature, but when I’m busy, it gets harder and harder to practice.
So, when I found myself with a sudden, unexpected day off last week, I jumped at the chance to tick more things off my list. I opened my laptop and started answering emails. But then… something else happened.
As you know, I live in the woods, far north of Toronto. Late fall is beautiful up here – low light, crisp air, trees letting their last yellow and orange leaves float away. I looked out the window and felt a deep pull to the outside world. It was like something inside me was saying, “Dave. Close the laptop.”
I wandered outside and smelled the dry leaves and crisp, cool air. I saw my kayak and decided to go for a paddle. It was beautiful out on the water, just me and the sky and the sound of a crow off in the distance. I was caught up in the grandeur of it. Then suddenly, I had a new idea for a paper I’ve been working on, and I paddled back thinking about it. Back in my office, the paper seemed to write itself, which flowed into a fun and fabulously productive day.
This blend of productivity and freedom is something I hadn’t felt in a long time. When time is too structured, flow become illusive. But this was something else completely. As the day went on, more ideas came, and they seemed to have more depth and insight. Things that had felt hard felt easier.
This fall, I’ve had moments of worrying that my motivation was slipping. This scared me, because as leaders, our motivation is our most precious asset. It’s what keeps us showing up to the hard work every day. Since that paddle though, it’s back in abundance, and I’m going to fight to keep it.
That’s why I’ve decided to block one day a month for “soul time” this winter. On these days, I’ll have no agenda and no work scheduled. I might choose outdoor adventure and combine it with creative projects, or I might just take an extended nap if that’s what my soul yearns for in the moment.
I admit, an unscheduled day every month feels decadent, but I know deep in my heart that when I take the time for myself, I reconnect to something bigger, and everyone in my life benefits.
Do you want to join me? I challenge you to block some time in your calendar – a day, a half day, or even an hour. Take the time to bust out of habitual patterns, listen to your heart, and find your way back to the work you love.
Here are some thought provokers to get you started:
- Where in your working life are you longing for a perception shift?
- How can you give yourself space and time to let that shift happen?
- Where can you schedule regular pauses in your work to let your mind unwind?