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Are you waiting for permission to stop?

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When you’re busy with a never-ending to-do list, a business to run, a home to run, kids to take care of and yourself to take care of, it’s easy to feel you have no choice but to keep going.

If, like many of us, you feel there’s never enough time, you’re probably used to cramming as much as you can into every single minute with your head down and your game face on. 

You may know that your current way of doing things isn’t working - it feels difficult, heavy, and exhausting – but you’ve convinced yourself that you simply don’t have time to do anything about it.

When there’s always something screaming for attention, how can you possibly justify taking time out?

I’ve been there, and I know how it feels to find yourself utterly depleted.

But I also know how good it feels when you do decide to stop. When you finally reach the point where you know that things can’t carry on as they are.

For me, that moment arrived around ten years ago when someone came into my office asking me to fix a broken stapler. The moment they left, I closed the door behind them and had a really good sob. I’d been firefighting for so long, running from one urgent thing to the next in a constant state of high alert, that all it took was for one more person to come to me demanding something for me to lose it.

Stapler-gate was a turning point for me. I didn’t want to be the person who cries over broken staplers, so I decided to stop and make some changes. I gave myself some space to put things in place that would help me get organised and, importantly, keep my shit together!

But I don’t want you to do what I did. I don’t want you to reach breaking point before you stop.

If you need someone to give you permission to stop, I’m giving it to you now. You’re allowed to stop. There’s time for you to stop. The world will keep spinning if you stop.

Stop. Reflect. Regroup. Restart. 

Reflect on what’s working/not working for you. Regroup. Could you make some changes that will help you to get things done with less stress and more ease when you restart? Then start afresh.

The first thing to do when you stop? Breathe. Make a cup of tea and sit quietly for ten minutes. Go for a walk. Listen to your favourite music. Stretch. Do something that will help you find calm and put things into perspective.

Once you’ve taken a moment for yourself, then what? Spend an hour or two (that’s all you need) exploring the possibility of doing things differently. Here are some suggestions:

  • Review your to-do list with a critical eye. Is everything on there still important? What could you remove?
  • Do a brain-dump. I wrote about how to do that here.
  • If you have lists and post-its everywhere, maybe it’s time to consolidate everything into one place. I wrote a series of blog posts about that, which you’ll find here, here and here (be sure to read them in order!).
  • Use your calendar. Schedule your down-time. If your days often get de-railed, try putting important tasks in your calendar and protecting that time in the same way you would a meeting with a client.
  • Tidy your environment and see if the outer calm contributes to inner calm.

Remember, if you change nothing, nothing will change.

Getting stuff done every day doesn’t have to feel like a struggle, but first you must allow yourself to stop.

If you’re ready to stop, reflect and regroup but the next steps feel too daunting, I’d love to help you. Maybe all you need is a little gentle guidance. My 1:1 mentoring package is designed to lead you along a calm path to a more organised and less stressful life. You’ll find more info here, or get in touch and let’s start the conversation.

Do you ever tell yourself you don't have time to stop and make a change? Have you had your very own 'stapler-gate' moment? I'd love to know if any of this resonates with you, so please do leave me a comment below. 

And of course, I’d love you to pass this on if you know someone who might find it useful.

 

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Louise MillerComment