A while ago, I didn’t feel well. I had the impression that What’s Up in Kyoto wasn’t moving forward fast enough, which was true because I was procrastinating a lot. The reason for this was a very odd feeling I had, something that held me back of getting stuff done. The word fear comes to mind, even though it’s not 100% accurate. After watching myself a long time not doing anything – and feeling very bad about it – I finally contacted a friend of mine with a degree in psychology and asked her for help. She came up with two ideas that sounded rather counterintuitive:
- Lessen your own pressure to perform.
- Make up for personal deficits wrt. social contacts, spare time activities, etc.
The second one was spot on! I was too much focused on work (even though there was not much moving forward), that I didn’t allow myself to have fun, so to speak. I hardly went out any more, only sat on my desk, and got worried that I didn’t succeed in business as much as I had wanted to. And being an introvert, I never had many friends around me, and I find it hard to chat up new people to begin with.
It took me longer to understand what she meant with the first point, and I am still not sure I got it. Perfectionism is not really an issue, but yes, I do have a certain image in mind for the event calendar, and it is discouraging to see how far distant what I have now is from that. On the other hand, things do take time, and the older I get, the less willing I seem to be to invest all that time.
Anyway, my friend was right, and so I made a few changes to my life. First change: I now take one day off per week. No sitting in front of my computer all day (unless for personal stuff), but I try to do fun things like taking a walk in my neighborhood, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, going to a museum or some other event (it’s not that I don’t know of any of these…) The immediate effect was that I don’t feel guilty anymore when I’m taking time off. And my work days got more productive as well.
And recently, I have also drawn up a more formal work schedule. It’s nice to work when you like and what you like, but a bit more structure is a good idea for me. For example: Mondays I manage the What’s Up In Kyoto facebook and twitter accounts. Tuesdays I scheduled all my external meetings (including lunch or coffee with friends). Wednesday is my day off. Thursdays I meet my language students. Friday is the day where I contact (potential) clients. And in the weekends, where I usually don’t go anywhere, I planned all days for serious, uninterrupted work on the website or for external customers.
The schedule is flexible enough to allow for unexpected coffee meetings or a different day off if work demands it. Still, it is nice to have an overall plan what to do on any given day – and plenty of time for other activities in between. I’m still working on the social aspects though. It’s not that easy finding friends around here, and I’m not certain about taking up a new hobby at this point. We’ll see.