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Room to breathe

Just like the time I went completely offline for ten days, doing something a little extreme has given me unexpected insight.

I took the month of April off and decided not to schedule any meetings, interviews, presentations, or workshops. I needed to focus on finishing my book: Collaboration Superpowers – Stories Of Remote Teams Doing Great Things.

I said no to everything that didn’t directly relate to writing the book or earning money. For things that were in the gray area, I outsourced the decision to my business coach and my boyfriend.

And it was hard!! I usually have at least three to four hours worth of video meetings per day: everything from interviews, to webinars, to product demos, all kinds of virtual teas, coffees, and adult beverages – all great networking and knowledge gathering. But also very distracting from my supposed number one goal which is: to finish the book.

It’s been exactly two weeks now since I’ve gone meeting free and I’ve learned two things:

  1. I won’t be able to finish the book in April as originally delusionally planned.
  2. Taking everything out of my schedule gave me room to breathe. And oh man, I didn’t expect it to be so good!

The first week was completely open. No meetings at all. Just clear days, stretched out in front me – waiting for me to dive in. The feeling was good, of course. But I also panicked a few times. I worried that if I throttled back on all of my marketing and networking that I would lose valuable opportunities. I also felt like I wasn’t doing REAL work unless I had a bunch of stuff packed in… that was interesting insight!

In the second week, the panic subsides a bit and I remind myself that there’s a constant stream of ideas and opportunities in the world. I can dip back into that stream and grab one at any time. It’s ok to slow down and focus for a while.

I must admit, I am more and more attracted to minimalism and living simply. In fact, I live smaller than almost anyone I know. When I moved from the US to The Netherlands six years ago, I took only one suitcase and I haven’t collected all that much more since then. But that was all physical stuff. What was actually cluttered… was my time.

I am experiencing the importance of having room to breathe. There seems to be more time somehow. And I’m learning that the “real” work is the thinking and not the doing.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to go ‘balls to the wall’ sometimes. It’s totally exhilarating in the right circumstances. The trouble is, it’s hard to remember to throttle back again. At least for me.

And I suspect it’s the same for many of you too.

In this world where we’re always on, I’m learning that sometimes, we need to take out all the non essentials and start over again – and give ourselves some room to breathe and focus on the things that are most important to us.


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