It’s been one of those weeks. I knew it was coming, I chose to go ahead with everything I had planned, and now I am exhausted.
I hosted friends for dinner at my place on two nights this week. That’s unusual for me. Hospitality is not my primary gift; it doesn’t come easily. I find it quite stressful really, but sometimes it is the right thing to do. We had two sets of friends who live overseas back in the country for short periods of time and it was important to catch up with them. The best way to catch up is over an unhurried meal in the comfort of our home. They both just happened to be in the same week.
It is also an extra-busy season at work, the height of the review and planning season, developing strategies and budgets for the year ahead. Amongst the extra meetings and report writing I still had to try and fit my regular responsibilities in. I didn’t do that very well this week. I finished the week stressed, knowing I have a long list to tackle when I return to the office.
But right in this moment, the busy week is over, and I have a weekend with very little planned. Recovery time. I have a list of things to do on the blog and things to do around the house to get ready for another relentless week beginning in two short days.
What do you do to recover after a busy week? How do you recharge?
There are two traps I easily fall into. Firstly, doing nothing but rest. It would be easy for me to just flop on the couch and binge Netflix all weekend, dozing and snacking my way through my precious days off. When Monday comes again the pantry will still be empty, my laundry basket overflowing, my desk cluttered with tasks waiting for attention. Then, when the new week begins, everything is a little more difficult than it should be.
My other inclination is to just keep going. I can easily fill up my weekend days with busyness. There is a long list of things to clean, writing assignments to work on, people to call and errands to run. Monday arrives and I just keep running. I begin the new week with a clean apartment and restocked pantry, tired body and stressed mind. I’ve tried this path. It doesn’t end well.
The best choice, of course, is to intentionally plan my weekend to achieve the high priority tasks that will keep my home running smoothly and prepare for the busy week ahead, and, take a significant amount of time to stop and rest, have some fun, and recharge my tired body and mind. So, I’ve put a load of washing on and given the bathroom a quick wipe down. I’ve had a walk in the sunshine to a favourite café to enjoy a late breakfast and an iced long black. I’m writing my words to you, my valuable tribe, and I am about to walk home slowly along the river and take a nap.
It’s difficult to plan intentional recovery time. So often we get to the very end of our capacity before we take time to rest, or worse, get sick and are forced to stop. Pacing a sustainable life is hard work. To live with margins means planning the space before the business begins. The margin has to be ruled first!
Recharging looks different for everyone. Some like being around people while some long for solitude (yes, that’s me). Some like spending time outdoors, some go for physical activity, some get their hands dirty in the garden while others prefer the kitchen. You need to carefully consider the things you do that make you feel great, the activities that make time fly and leave you feeling peaceful and calm, content, happy.
If you’re not sure what your best recharging activities are, keep a diary over a month or two. Simply record the things you do with your time and how you feel afterwards. Go out for coffee with a friend. Do you feel better or worse afterward? Spend some time alone reading a book. How do you feel? Develop a list of things that work for you. Then you can use the list to plan the diary.
In this post, How I organise my whole life, I outline my process for keeping all the things running. Importantly, I plan periods of rest and fun along with the productive tasks that are equally important. Make an appointment with yourself to do the things that you know work for you, recharging your energy and preparing you for the week ahead. Plan it, block it off in the diary, and keep the commitment you make to yourself.
As you head into your weekend, what will you do to recharge? How will you create a balance between productivity and rest? One thing is certain, if you don’t plan margin, the space will fill up and the relentless pace of expectations will continue to demand more and more of your energy. Take the time to fill up before you empty out. Make an appointment with yourself to rest and recover.
Have a great weekend!