Something I’ve been working to be more conscious of lately is how much I let myself think about my business “off-hours”.
For context: like many here, I’m *crazy* engaged by with the “work” that I’m doing right now.
I feel like I’m playing an addictive, multi-player video game right now that’s so engaging (and so fun!), that left to its own devices, my mind won’t stop thinking about it.
And while yes, it’s a blessing to have found “work” that’s so engaging as to become an obsession, I came to find that, left unchecked, that obsession comes with a cost.
My general sense of presence was one casualty - left unchecked, my mind would be thinking about product or pricing or copy or whatever project I was currently in the throes of during every meal and conversation with friends or family.
And then it ultimately manifested itself in bed.
(No... not that. Not in 2020 😏)
Over the last few weeks, I found that when I let my mind obsess over my business into the night (which it would be more than happy to do), my sleep would suck. I would toss and turn for hours before getting to sleep.
I’d then either lose my mornings (which I love), or settle for less sleep, which would then affect my performance and energy throughout the day.
I tried different techniques and even started dabbling with melatonin and other sleep supplements to help break the cycle, but ultimately I knew there had to be some underlying cause of my sleep issues, and that I didn’t want to just be medicating away the symptoms.
It finally occurred to me that our minds are like a computer or browser system - constantly being filled and running processes and storing and analyzing and computing inputs and outputs all day.
(I know, I know. My nerd is showing.)
And just like when you clear your browser cache or (finally) “reset” your computer, things run smoother on startup.
For our minds, sleep, and the evening and morning hours surrounding it are our cache-clearing reboot, and if we want to perform optimally throughout the day, we need to be conscious and mindful about keeping that cache clear during that window.
So, new rule for me: under normal circumstances, my working window is generally early morning through dinner.
At dinner, I unplug from work, and stop checking emails.
I’ll let myself read business-related stuff, but only up until around 9pm. I’ll call friends, or write/journal, or do anything else. But no work.
Through the evening, I try to be mindful of when my mind wanders back to work and whatever projects I’m currently working on, and when I catch my mind wandering down one of those rabbit holes, I try and let go of it and bring myself back to presence.
Then bed/bedtime reading (Harry Potter 4 again... IT WAS A PORTKEY?!), and finally (ideally!), deep, restful sleep.
Like anything else in life, this rule leaves room for exceptions, but is the general framework I’m working to follow - and the results have been great so far.
In the week or so that I’ve been practicing this cache-clearing exercise, my sleep has improved significantly, and my performance and energy throughout the day along with it.
This realization was helpful for me - so I hope it’s helpful for you too (please let me know if it is!)