I think have mentioned this before: part of working for myself means that I often alternate between periods of hyperactive, super-smug productivity, and what I like to call ‘Buffering Time’.
You know that experience when you are fully immersed in a movie on Netflix, and all of a sudden it stops, and you have to wait for it to sort itself out before it can continue playing? It’s annoying, but you know that it will resume playing at some point. So instead of glowering at the screen you go and fix yourself a snack (or stare at another, smaller screen – don’t lie, we have all done this). I do a version of this with my work schedule. Sometimes my brain starts buffering, and I scale what I do down, or change direction for a while. For all you visual people, here is a highly scientific graph showing my working patterns:
I recently had a great run of highly productive weeks, where I finished projects, checked tasks off lists, and felt great power running through my veins like a smaller, more jumpy version of Wonder Woman. I printed, ironed, sewed, and packed products for a fair, did inventory, wrote curriculum for my summer camps, worked daily on my illustrations, got up early, hydrated regularly, practiced yoga, and Instagrammed a lot of it, every – single – day.
The line on my graph has turned downwards this week. The Buffering Time strikes again. I spent two days running back and forth between my kids’ school, the pediatrician’s office, and the ER, due to an appendicitis scare (it’s fine, turned out to be something much less worrying). I spent another two days feeling thrown off schedule, overwhelmed with unfinished work, and too physically tired to wake up early and work that extra hour.
That’s fine, I’ve learnt to take the dips in my work rhythm in my stride, they don’t freak me out (as much) any more. At the risk of sounding like an old hippie, you learn to breathe through the hard stuff, like in Yoga. Someone please hit me with a big stick, I sound so annoying.
The point is, managing time effectively isn’t the same as being busy all the time. I know I will catch up with any work that needs to be done once I hit my stride again, because when I’m on, I’m ON. I know that the graph will turn upwards again soon, and I know that I need to recharge a bit this week, or I will crash. I’m going to take advantage of my dip. I’m going to get my hair cut, and try some of those lettering projects in ‘Mollie Makes’.
It’s important to identify your own work pattern, and know how to use it to it’s fullest advantage, and please be forgiving with yourself.
My business’s busiest season is about to coincide with the end of the school year, and all the hoopla that that brings with it. I have two weekends of craft fairs to work (which means making more shirts), and concerts and recitals to attend. This will be followed by three weeks of teaching what has to be the world’s best Summer camp, no compromises. This will be followed by a month in England (woohoo!), and another, final week of summer camp. Then the new school year, and my design/printing session for the Holiday fairs begins.
So I’ll take my relaxed, dopey weeks when I can take them, without any apologies thank you very much. You should too! Be nice to yourself.