We have all heard it the phrase. But change is hard. Even so, it can be a good thing. And it can be so simple. What I have found does wonders, is simply a little change of scenery.
I have more free time on my hands right now than I have had in years. I still find myself getting bogged down. I struggle hard to find focus. I have a to-do list a mile long. I have a tasks-started-but-not-completed list two miles long. I am so used to having the minutes of my day lined out for me that when I have hours unbooked, I can feel a bit, overwhelmed.
For so much of my life I have lived by the mantra “work hard, play hard.” I worked to play. I loved my jobs most of the time, but I loved vacations even more. I always found the transition from work to play very easy, because I was usually a little fried by the time I walked out of the newsroom, got onto a plane or loaded in the car to head somewhere fun. I felt I earned the time off and didn’t have much trouble unplugging from the world I gave most of my life to. Now? Now that I have more open space before me, I find I have to work a little harder at it.
There is a bit of guilt scheduling entire days to myself. There is also the fact I work for myself now, out of my home, so even though I live steps from the beauty of the beach, I am always steps away from piles of work I could be getting to. Oh yeah, and there are no paid vacation days anymore. I need to stay plugged in to a certain extent to pay the bills. All that said, I know our brains need vacations from our every day lives, no matter what those lives are filled with. That’s where a change of scenery can do wonders.
I’ve spent the last week up in Tahoe. I’ve done a little work here and there, but the piles and massive to-do lists…I left at home. I brought abbreviated versions with me, which has left me ample opportunity for hikes, lake-time and exploring new territory. And at the end of the week, guess what?
I find I have more focus. I am actually a little eager to take on the to-do list upon my return.
It wasn’t discipline or working harder that got me here, though. It was getting away. It was the peace of a mountain hike, the serenity of paddling into a crystal clear lake cove, and the awe of discovering a new body of water to float in. My psyche got to explore some out-of-the-ordinary sensory sensations, and I feel renewed because of that.
Look, I know we can’t always run off to Tahoe, or some other vacation spot for a week at a time. But we all live around nature in some form or fashion and there are corners of it we spend little time around or have left unexplored altogether. Maybe this week find a hike you have been meaning to check out and do it. Or a beach you drive by and long to pay a visit. How about a patio spot for lunch, or a coffee shop that seems so quaint as you quickly grab your latte to go? Can you carve out a couple of hours this week to explore one of them. We’re looking for a tiny detour off the beaten path here. A simple change of scenery.
I know what you’re thinking. You have too much on your plate. You have to too much to get done. Here’s the deal though: If you don’t take the time to reset the machinery now and then, your efficiency suffers. And sometimes the best use of your time, is to take a little of it for yourself. It’s good to work hard, play hard. But try turning it around. Try a little easy play and my hunch is the work gets a little easier too.
“Not all those who wander are lost.’ J.R.R. Tolkien