Knowing When to STOP!

By , October 9, 2010 7:26 pm

“Just five more minutes..!”

Elaine J Bailey, Budding Author, aged 11.

At the age of eleven I’d already written four full sized novels. My ‘Auntie Mabel’ (who lived a few houses away) always took an interest in my writing and would ask me about the latest one. She’d then buy the only copy when it was finished.

I was so thrilled that I had a dedicated following! I’d write for her.

My dedication was such that when the letter ‘m’ fell off my typewriter (yes it was in the dark ages before computers!) I painstakingly wrote every ‘m’ in the book by hand!

I’d get lost in the flow of writing, stepping into the story and becoming all the characters as they were typed onto the page. I was no longer sitting at the dining room table. I was immersed in the story and didn’t want it to end. I was hooked!

‘It’s bed time now. You have to stop for today!’ …Brought me back to my dining room reality and every evening I’d begin my negotiations with my parents. I’d ask for ‘Just five more minutes,’ and try to extend my writing time as long as I could. Even though I was tired I WANTED to continue writing.

Fast forward to 2010…

As an entrepreneur and coach, I am still blessed with the same passion for writing I used to have as an eleven year old girl. Little Elaine still lives  in my head and shows up when I’m in the flow of something or if  I have loads of deadlines to meet. She pushes me hard to get things done.

Little Elaine is destructive because she doesn’t know when to stop. She takes over and before I know it the clocks are chiming midnight even though I have to be up at 5.30 am the following day!

The next morning I’m tired and I annoyed that I allowed Little Elaine to stay up late to have ‘Just five more minutes’ more!

Little Elaine doesn’t have a healthy approach to workloads, she creates an environment of busy-ness, overwhelm and burn-out.

Here’s how I make Little Elaine to bed when she shows up:

1. Are YOU Tired? Are YOU Hungry? – Listen to your body – it is VERY wise. My coach taught me this… Eating and sleeping are usually the first things to suffer when we are working long hours. We go without proper meals and the right amount of sleep. Our well-being is reduced to a low priority on that huge list of things we already have to do. We ignore the signals from our body as we drive on with more effort to get stuff done. In the short term this is usually okay, providing we allow a period of recovery time afterwards. But how often do we remember to do this? If it is sustained busy-ness will get a tighter grip because we are physically and mentally weaker. The perfect recipe for overwhelm and burnout.

2. Show Up, Start, and Stop! Don’t overdo it! – Become your own parent! This not about trying to get everything done today. Set yourself a start and finish time in your schedule and stick to it. If you can’t trust yourself to stop, set a timer and put it across the room, so you have to get up to turn it off. This breaks the circuit of sitting there and working. Otherwise you’ll get lost in the flow and not know when to stop.

3. Continue Tomorrow – It’s okay…really to set time to show up the next day to continue. Follow #2 to ensure that you don’t lose yourself in long hours of over working. Remember… You can ALWAYS carry on from where you left off. You will be much more productive after a break too!

        I still use this technique today when I’m locked into the workaholic tendency of ‘keep’ going and Little Elaine is trying to take me over to get it all done NOW!

        One Response to “Knowing When to STOP!”

        1. oh little elaine – meet little julie!
          this is such a great post – just last night i had to talk little julie into stopping the work and starting the rest time. this is such a sweet reminder to put self-care on the list of what’s to do.
          thanks for sharing about little elaine – made me smile. and what an awesome aunt to buy your novels – not just little elaine, but LUCKY little elaine! i’m sure your aunt’s belief in you has had lasting implications.
          thanks for sharing!
          ~ little “i-don’t-want-to-go-to-bed-yet-either!” julie

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