I think I may have been addicted to the feeling of productivity to the point of risking burn out. The culture that I see on my social media feeds and feel (especially living in London) of working 24/7, of relentlessly grafting and hustling towards your business, your dream, your goals… It’s inspiring, but it’s also exhausting, can cause anxiety and it leaves no time for you to be YOU.
If you asked me “who is Challenge Sophie?” I would be able to answer that easily. She’s motivated, ambitious, a go-getter, she delivers her A-Game, she’s a dreamer and a do-er.
I love being that person. But that person, or rather, that part of me, has had tons of air-time in recent years and it’s been all too easy to forget about Sophie. I see this with my friends and fellow entrepreneurs, especially women; we can put so much pressure on ourselves juggling multiple jobs and projects. It’s become the norm to demand, demand, demand, without giving ourselves enough time off to rest, play and be our natural selves!
Why work so hard?
80% of businesses fail in the first five years. When you start your own business, you are aware of the facts and don’t want to fall into the 80% that fail. You want to succeed, so you invest everything because you believe this is your shot at creating something that enables you to live your life on your terms, and wake up every day doing what you love and loving what you do. But at what cost?
I am proud to have built a thriving business that is growing in strength every day. But I know I cannot continue demanding from myself what I have over the past years. I see friends burning out because of the pressure and loneliness of running their own businesses. I can see how it could happen and have taken measures to prioritise self-care and reduce the chances of it happening to me. Pleased to say the results have been fantastic!
In August I took a month off in Hawaii where I focused on resetting the balance between work and play, between Challenge Sophie and me. Since returning, I have been making time off a priority. Whilst also keeping my finger on the pulse to keep everything moving forward.
It’s a fine balance to strike, between being motivated to keep growing and striving for more in life, but at the same time, being happy and accepting of who you are so you don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Allowing yourself time to play, to be still, to let thoughts wander in and out, is making space for your brilliance to shine through the noise of day to day living. Productivity isn’t just doing or achieving, it's being and playing. I have been posting less (you may have noticed it's been a while since my last blog) but my happiness, health and overall productivity is at an all time high!
Imagine if making time for brilliance was at the top of all our weekly To-Do Lists!
Here are my top tips for less 'busy', how to prioritise self-care and increase productivity:
- Prune your life – notice what depletes your energy and what gives you energy. Who inspires you and who drains you? We all know people that are mood hoovers, ask yourself if your energy is better served elsewhere? Be honest with yourself and keep in your life the things, people and projects that you truly want to invest in
- 24 hours in a day – How do you fit it all in when you feel stretched? You've got 24 hours or 86,400 seconds to use EVERY day, get creative with it and make the most of it. You'll never get them back! I focus on weekly project based goals rather than daily task lists. This gives me more time to make it happen and avoid feeling like I haven’t done enough each day
- Get out of your head – we can be our own worst enemy sometimes! Learn how to manage your inner voice + self-critic by immersing yourself in experiences where you don’t have the head-space to over think. Exactly why I love adventures and challenges, but also exercising day-to-day
- Stop thinking you need to have it all figured out – learn to love the process and not battle against the days that you don’t feel in control, motivated, or know your next move. Have the faith and imagination to look beyond what you can see as your next steps
- PLAY – The power of play is immense! Free yourself from the cognitive function of DOING and PLAY instead. There is no right or wrong in play, there is no end goal. Play and exploration allows us to reignite imagination and the concept of limitless possibility. This could be the best investment you give yourself and your work!
- Don't look for outside validation - put to one side the boundaries other people place on you and commit to discovering who you really are. Nothing quite like climbing a mountain to do this! Go climb your mountain :)
- Shut yourself off from the world and other people’s demands – Turn off all your electronics and do something for you. Could be reading, writing, baking, yoga, walking, listening to a podcast. Even if all you can manage is 15 minutes, you’ll reap the rewards
- Invest in YOU - If you don't work, nothing will. I am MASSIVELY reaping the rewards of working through these points, hope they are helpful for you too
Love to hear your thoughts and suggestions as ever. Go make time for your brilliance to shine, and have fun!