My days are too full. They're noisy. Filled with notifications from email, team Slack messages, social media and my phone. They're too fast. I can't get caught up on most days and therefore I stay up too late and get too little sleep. My days are filled with HUSTLE. (I have a love-hate relationship with that word. I think we need the hustle attitude and drive but that doesn't have to mean 22-hours a day.)
I have not really had quiet alone time for … well, forever. I've had kids for 35 years and my own business for 23 years. I've been blissfully married (the second time) for 28 years and I'm never really alone. I'm not complaining at all. I love my family and my life more than I ever dreamed I could, but recently it hit me that my days were just too full and too loud to think. Too loud to create and to plan. So I decided I needed some Monk Time.
Do you find your days so busy with business that you can't think beyond the next urgent client request or deadline? Do you have weekly intentions to take a day to just get things done or caught up and yet the days get filled with everyone else's requests? As an entrepreneur and business owner, we must make the time to continue innovating, evolving, creating and yes, even taking care of ourselves.
I was listening to a podcast recently with Tim Ferriss and Cat Hoke (one that blew my mind, broke my heart, and moved me to take action) and in the podcast, Cat talked about scheduling regular “Monk Time” to take care of herself and have time to think. I don't know why that struck me differently than the 87,000 other people who have said you can't take care of everything else if you don't take care of yourself, but it did.
Monk Time is not the same as a “digital detox,” which I have only done once, when in Africa for two weeks with very sketchy internet and a solar charger, so it wasn't intentional…it was just a self-imposed detox from electronics. Monk Time is not a vacation or a yoga retreat, although I could use both of those as well. I have not done any chanting and I don't have any bells (note to self- get some wind chimes or soothing yoga bowls or bells…that would have been perfect). Monk Time is quiet-be-with-myself time. It's a time to think, to create, to plan, and to do nothing if I want. It can be a day, a week, or even a couple hours.
We recently bought a second home in Arizona as a winter escape and my husband, some friends, and I came down at the end of January from Colorado to hang out for a few days. I decided to stay on an extra week or so to do some business planning for 2018 that never got to happen in November or December because my days were too packed. I decided to take some Monk Time.
So far I have taken my crazy dogs (so it's not totally quiet) on walks every day and I've spent time stretching. I've listened to the audiobooks, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown (I should have listened to this years ago!), Building a Story Brand, by Donald Miller and a multitude of podcasts…all at my leisure. I have hiked, swam and even spent some time in my little art studio here, as I'm sure all good Monks would do. I've not watched the news but instead listened to lots of Kitaro, David Lanz, and even Yanni (I know…I'm not ashamed to admit it).
In our hyper-connected, overly-scheduled, hustle 24/7 world, we must make time to just be still. We cannot create or even plan ways to fit new things into our business or new ways to help our clients if we can't make time for quiet reflection that allows for brain-stimulating innovation.
So what is needed to plan YOUR Monk Time? Here are 4 tips to get you started:
Create a vacation response message for your email.
You don't have to say you are gone, just not able to respond as quickly. Give yourself that time during your Monk Time to not be bound to your devices. Tell people that you are taking time to plan or create new products and services. Let them know you will get back to them within 48 hours and perhaps who they can contact in “urgent” situations. It's not that you won't check email, it's that you won't leave your email open all day or check it 5 times during the day.
Prepare your team.
Let your team know you are available in emergency situations (that means there must be blood or protruding bones in our household…and the bone has to be larger than a finger), but that you will not be scheduling meetings, calls, or answering the questions that someone else on the team can answer. Hey, this sounds like it could possibly carry over way beyond Monk Time!
Don't watch television.
Unless the Olympic Opening Ceremonies are on, or the final episode of This is Us and you have to find out what happened to Jack. But other than that… don't turn it on.
Schedule nurture time.
This might be a massage, leisurely walks, working out, or just sitting in a quiet park, breathing deeply to clear your head. Do the things you always say you should do to take care of yourself, but never do.
When was the last time you took time for yourself? Time to plan and think about what you want to be doing in your business? I'd love to hear from you. What did you do? What went well? What would you do differently next time? Let's chat here in the comments or on any of our social channels.