July 14, 2023
2023 has been an exceptionally busy year so far. When it unexpectedly becomes quiet, I find myself challenged to be embracing downtime!
Cambridge Dictionary defines downtime as a time when you relax and do not do very much. Now I am one who can be lazy at will. I can totally not do very much very well!
However, when it comes to work, my schedule can be hectic. As a consultant, I work when my clients need me. This may mean weekends, evenings, travel. I no longer work a typical workday, or workweek as I did when I worked in the public sector. I may go run errands on a Thursday morning, and I may jump on my computer on a Saturday afternoon to issue invoices or pay HST.
A shortened workweek
Two companies I admire, and have learned a lot from, have both recently posted on social media about instituting a 4-day workweek. Rogue Penguin Creative posted earlier this month they have been experimenting with a 4-day workweek with great success. Sheldon Payne, owner of Newfound Marketing was featured on CBC for his decision to move his company to a shortened workweek.
What can I do?
Since I do not have a structured workweek, how can I implement a shortened workweek? I found myself asking this question last Saturday. As usual, I was tempted to hop on my computer when faced with an open stretch of time. Instead, I picked up a book, went outside (on our newly installed back deck), and sat chillin’. Velcro joined me in listening to the sounds of summer in our neighbourhood.
A mental shift
Oxford Languages defines embrace as to accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically. The last two words are the sticklers for me. While I can easily be lazy, how do I willingly and enthusiastically accept my work demands are significantly less this month than they have been for the first six months of the year? It requires a mental shift, a shift in the paradigm if you will.
During my last road trip, I was travelling for 9 days straight, in four communities, with four clients, over 3500 km crisscrossing Newfoundland and Labrador on and off the Trans Canada Highway. On the 3-hour trip home, my body started collapsing. I ached all over, my throat was sore, my head stuffed. I ended up in bed with a cold (thankfully negative for COVID) for several days. My body knew I had done too much, too fast. It has taken me a little longer for my mind to catch up.
It may not be as structured
As a solopreneur, I work when my clients need me, on their schedule. Since I do not typically work a 5-day, 40-hour workweek, reducing one day a week may not make sense for me. However, I can certainly find other ways of embracing downtime when it shows up. Maybe it is taking time to read a book on the back deck with Velcro, or working on some passion projects. It is definitely realizing downtime may be fleeting and to make efforts not to squander it when it is available. Now back to the business plan I am working on for a new client I picked up last week, and updating curriculum for a new workshop for a repeat client now scheduled in August…
Happy summer everyone! ~ Carole