I told you how I beat procrastination before, but this had an unexpected consequence. When fear of death became the fuel for my life, I turned into a workaholic.
I still think of myself as a workaholic in recovery. It’s pretty easy for me to forget that I should stop working. At first, I figured I was the only one; I guess we all think that way when we have a problem. But then I realized this was also very common for my freelancing friends.
To fix this problem, I tried time blocking and energy management, but I would still keep going without stopping. I was getting stressed trying to find a work/life balance.
I was carrying over the remnants of my life at the bank. I used to commute, clock in, clock out, and call it a day.
Then it dawned on me. There was no clear signal for me to stop working.
I tried including some cue to stop. And… I failed again.
Out of frustration, I asked myself: What if I stop trying to achieve a work/life balance? What if it is just a myth?
I grabbed pen and paper and analyzed how I spent my day. I found that I was dividing my life: Work life, social life, family life, etc.
A lot of small compartments trying to manage my time better. And the funny thing is that just looking at it was exhausting.
I started asking myself why I did what I did and I noticed a couple of interesting patterns:
- Procrastination hits me hard when I’m tired.
- Self-Care is key to creating my best work.
- Exercising allows me to focus on a task for longer periods of time.
- Practicing Yoga recharges my batteries.
- Talking with people saps my energy, even if I enjoy the conversation and feel it’s valuable.
- Resting between intense work sessions improves my problem-solving skills.
- Cooking allows me to relax my mind.
- Video games give me energy, and I often learn things from them.
As you see there is a lot of overlapping, one action affects another one that may be unrelated.
Life as a complete unit made more sense. It was easier to manage and take decisions. So I created a set of if/then decisions for my specific needs to help out:
- Had a meeting? Great, practice a bit of yoga to recover.
- Need to solve a problem? Cool, stay away from your computer; maybe cook something.
- Feel low on energy? Ok, play a game like a quick Overwatch match or look at my Don’t Starve run.
When I started using these if/then decisions a complete shift happened; I was more productive. I enjoyed my work even more (and I thought that was impossible since I love what I do).
If you want to give my method a try, just observe yourself for a full week and take notes of how you feel throughout the day. Note any activities that make you feel better, relaxed, more productive. Also, note activities that sap your energy and make you feel down.
You may not be able to avoid the things that drain you (like meetings for me), but you can manage the flow and incorporate self-care into those tasks. Create if/then decisions just like the ones I showed you today. Then test them for a week and notice how you feel.
It’s a bit of trial and error, but if you keep up, in less than a month you won’t even worry about balancing your amazing work with your beautiful life. Stay tuned! In the next article, I will cover the challenges I faced when tracking my habits and how to deal with them.