Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3 small ways to flip the off-switch & reclaim “me time”

It’s not easy balancing life, work, family, and vital household chores like organizing your whip collection.

When I created the schedule for juggling my author career and day job, I was thrilled with the balance. Tuesday through Thursday, I’d put on my marketing/PR hat and head to the office. Friday through Monday, I’d don my author hat and focus on revisions, new writing, and book promo.

It sounded like the perfect arrangement until it donned on me that I hadn’t actually budgeted any me time. Not only that, but the fact that I toted my iPhone 24/7 meant I spent pretty much every waking hour (and some not-awake hours) tethered to one job or the other.

No wonder the whip collection never got organized.

Since then, I’ve tried to be smarter about giving my brain a break from constant on mode. Aside from some of the bigger efforts I’ve made to take full days off for pleasurable endeavors, here are a few small ways I flip the off switch from time to time.

Let’s NOT do lunch

Once upon a time, I had a standing lunch date with my iPhone. That was unfortunate, since it never put out even if I bought an expensive meal. It didn’t matter if I was taking a break from the day job or meandering out to my front porch with a sandwich – the damn device always joined me. After all, my boss might need me or my editor might email with an important question.

But nine times out of ten, my neurotic email checks revealed nothing more pressing than an ad for discount penis enlargement. And while I enjoyed getting the occasional flirty lunchtime text, I discovered my brain felt a lot more rested if I left the phone on my desk and spent an hour reading a good book without distractions. Since I stopped inviting the iPhone to lunch, I’ve been amazed to discover the world has not collapsed.

Keep ‘em separate

Being an author isn’t a 9-5 gig, and there are plenty of times my day job requires a skewed schedule as well. I’m prepared to deal with that, but I also know I need to carve out boundaries to protect my sanity. Though I sometimes check my day job email from my laptop at home, I’ve drawn the line at doing it from my phone. If day job colleagues need to reach me during non-work hours, they know a text or phone call is best.

And while a big part of my day job revolves around being present on Twitter and in the blogosphere, I make an effort to take off my author hat and post using only my day job persona during the hours I’m paid to do that.

Let the wine flow! Just not yet…

One hard and fast (snicker) rule I’ve held since launching this blog in February 2010 is that I’ll never post if I’ve had anything to drink. Not even a couple sips of wine. You may find me in other social media sandboxes, but the blog is off limits. That creates a dilemma if I’ve found the perfect bottle of chianti to accompany my dinnertime lasagna, but haven’t yet written the next day’s post. What to do?

For starters, I’ve gotten better about planning in advance. A snack near the end of my workday means I can push dinner a little later and use the extra time to write a post before the oven timer dings. If a last-minute girls night pops up, I may just decide the world won’t end if the next day’s post isn’t up until later the next morning.

What are your strategies for flipping off switches and creating boundaries to preserve me time? Please share!


Charmaine Clancy said...

Sounds like you've got it all worked out :)
Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

I try and plan 'me time' into every day - sometimes it works sometimes not! But I agree reading a good book is ideal 'me time'.

Sarah W said...

Your second point is really, really difficult for me . . . But I know it has to be done.

Anonymous said...

Preserving "me" time. Gosh, this post is a big reminder that I NEED To schedule me time better. I really don't besides the time when I jump on my bike for a long bike ride or go for a run.

It might be time to schedule a little me time at a book store with a nice Chai Latte! :)

Linda G. said...

Gaaah. I go crazy without a certain amount of me time. It's as essential to me as sleep. Without it, I start to fantasize about ways to wreak havoc upon the world.

Matthew MacNish said...

When I get home from work, my phone stays in my work pants. Still, I'm not as famous or as importantly employed as you, so I have excuses.

Kristen Lamb said...

I am still working on this, so no advice here. I am taking Bikram yoga and have decided to ignore e-mail and phone completely on Sunday. I have a bit of an eye twitch but I think that will eventually pass.

Thanks for the great blogs as always and the tips were very timely for me.