Monday, 24 January 2011

Running Downhill

In my latest post “The Ugly Truth about “Having a Bad Day” I was suggesting that there is no problem of sharing your downs as long as you share it with right people. Today I would like to highlight one of the sources of a “bad day” talking about how trying to run too fast down the hill could lead to the awkward situation which you didn’t think of before.

It has all started couple of months a go, after a summer break which I have prescribed to myself, following my 5 years long study at University while working full time and more hours. I decided not to push any further development and having job which paid my bills I have once again tasted life with book on the bedside table or stargazing with my telescope during warm summer evenings (I guess I feel a bit cheesy now). Some other things I was pleased to do, was to catch up with all tasks which I had to postpone for last couple of years, such as sorting out my iTunes library, movie collection or pictures, and generally de-cluttering my living space. I was so excited about my new freedom that I have made number of camping trips that summer, quite a few of them being one night stay.

I have started to disrespect my home space, as the time spent there was always related to catching up with readings of textbooks or writing assignments with very little “finally at home” feelings. I had this feeling of compulsion and wanted to spend as much time away from home as possible. It took me a while to rebuild my relation with my house but it was incredibly rewarding letting it happen on its own with no agenda to reinforce it. And so, I woke up one day sometimes in November and felt that I was ready for my next steps in my life of HR professional. And as I always do, also this time I took it really “fast and curious” (although “fast and furious” might just describe it more accurately).

Twitter, Blogging, Linked In, Job-hunting- served all the time on the same plate and all while having a full time job already. "When Multitasking Kills" is another post I am working on, but just to give you some idea, imagine running down the hill so fast that you loose control of your legs and the only way to stop is to fall. One thing you learn is that you can not overtake yourself! Your body won’t let you! You have courage but there are forces out of your control which will almost certainly ask for paying back for your reckless behaviour.
You start to do mistakes more often than ever and have people around you looking at you suspiciously. Your closest will look for the ways to tell you about that you are loosing it, but other lot will just watch and forget the other you. 
We do say that “first impression is important” but we should also learn to accept that the last impression is usually the one remembered.

I have done it before when I have decided that working and studying full time will be fun, knowing absolutely nothing about how much one man can take. While it was incredibly exciting journey, I remember that over 5 years I have been less and less enthusiastic about this way of life. I also remember when I’ve submitted my last paper and sat in the car park trying to find any signs of “hurray” state of mind. I couldn’t find it though as by then I was already badly damaged and it took me a while to recover and fully appreciate my achievements.
Now talking performance there is no need to go into details, but generally speaking you will never deliver the same with this sort of attitude.

Lessons for HRbees

Multitasking kills (now this one is to be discussed in later post but generally speaking there is growing evidence among various psychological studies that “Multitasking is not efficient, nor does it get more work done faster. Quite the opposite. One task interferes with another, so everything takes longer because the brain loses time--and accuracy--in repeatedly shifting its effort” ( There are many tools to help you with management of your time spent on different things throughout a day. Dividing your tasks into short, medium and long term categories is one of the basic ones.

One step at the time, it’s not a cliché but something what worked perfectly at the beginning of our life when we have learned to walk and talk. So once again don’t try to overtake yourself. There is nothing wrong to push a bit harder sometimes. Just watch it!

Eat, Drink, Sleep, are things you can’t fool........Seriously!

Don’t mind the endless list of tasks you have. Think about the one which you have just ticked off. Try not to be frustrated from not getting done enough.

You feel like there is a mess in your concept? See if there is a way you could make sense out of it and ask for help from others, but mainly try to relax, as some things are meant to be chaotic and they will also very often sort themselves out.

Now-here is the golden one I have learned myself. 
Give yourself “me” time regularly. Not “me” who you want to be, but “me” who you are right now. We all seem to have tendency to act as someone who we want to be, forgetting how much disgusting it could be to our real “me”. Don’t take me wrong, changing some of your habits which you yourself are not proud of anymore is important, but take it easy!  

Reflect. Nothing beats good self-reflection on what you do and what it does.

Finally, in the spirit of mindfulness, I found incredibly regenerating regularly turning off all the noises around me (could be your PC, TV, Ipod etc.). Cook something nice for yourself, sit down and enjoy every peace on your plate like there is nothing else on earth to think about. I am not an expert in easing my mind but if you want to know more check out blog from Alison Ashford where you might just find your new coping mechanism with everyday stress.


Alison Ashford said...

Hi Peter, it's all a journey isn't it? Sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill and sometimes on the flat! I agree, it's so wise to take time out for ourselves, to retreat and recharge. Allowing ourselves space isn't a luxury, it's an essential. I love your suggestion of switching off noise from time to time, just being with whatever you're doing and however you're feeling. I do that too. Often makes our experiences richer and our busy minds quieter. And that is certianly a good thing. Great post - and thanks for the kind mention! Alison

MrAirmiles said...

I'm going through a similar phase Peter. After 4 years on the road non-stop I started loosing touch with my friends, family and the things I enjoyed doing! I'd gone from running marathons to not running at all, going to cinema every month to once a year and it got to a point where home was just "another hotel" and my partner could easily have been the receptionist or concierge at the hotel! I wanted to stop but didn;t know how, until I was made redundant, and looked at it as an opportunity to stay put and recharge my batteries!

It's only been a month but I've started seeing my friends again, gone to the movies, started networking and back to running! I feel so much better!
It's so important to look after yourself and rest. By the time you start noticing the symptoms of fatigue and stress its too late!

I like to do what I call: have me time! just sit about and do nothing, or watch meaningless tv, or go for a walk. I find that cooking relaxes me, and I enjoy it!
Look after yourself because everything else will look after itself in due course...

Beenish Wasay said...

Hi Peter! It is really a nice essay and I agree that most of the time a try to become adept in 6 things results in failure to learn even one.

But Multi skilling is not something we can under-estimate. Infact, one can prefer to work on 2 or 3 things simultaneously, instead of 5 or 6. Because we cant however generalize findings of majority/one person on everyone. Psychology is the only science without one ultimate definition.

Take care

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