I could have easily ended my break at least a week or two early. I was so giddy to return! And as I was following some of my favorite bloggers, I could hear my inner voice shout “Hey, I want to be part of this too!”
And of course there was this other part in me that was starting to wonder, if I still remembered how to do this. Have I ever known? What if the small, but loyal group of readers that I had gathered over the months had left? (which is still a possibility).
What if I returned to the same crazy routine I had put myself through before the break? Because as much as I want people to love my blog, and as much as I hope that you will return, I’m also worried about spending too much time in front of the screen searching for just the right image and tweaking my words, all the while neglecting other important parts of my life. Such as friends. My partner. School. Exercise. Finding more paid work.
So, here are some of the things I’ve done and/or want to do, as I re-adjust:
1. Write down what you’ve taken from your break and what you’d like to continue to inhabit. Think of some of your old patterns, and how your behaviors have changed during your break. Establish a few basic principles you want to live by. For example: “Before I turn on the computer in the mornings, I will practice yoga.” or “Each night I will read for an hour, before going to bed.”
2. Practice self-awareness: Watch your patterns closely, especially in the first week of your return. How do they differ from those you established during your time away? Be as honest with yourself as possible and remind yourself of the principles you want to go by and think of ways you can stick to them. For instance: put your list of priorities close to the computer – somewhere, where you can see them. Stop every now and then and ask yourself, if what you’re doing right now serves the greater purpose. And/or hold yourself accountable by making your resolution public (there is a reason I’m writing this post ;-))
3. Don’t over-commit yourself: when I returned last week I was so ready to post and even more eager to collaborate. Before I knew it, I had committed myself to several posts and was already playing catch-up within the first few days. I clearly had over-committed myself. Don’t do it. Take it easy. Allow yourself to adjust. And don’t forget about the lessons you’ve just taken from your break.
4. Give some extra love to those around you. During your break you’ve likely given your family and friends more attention, than you were able to offer when you were blogging. The end of your break is not only a transition for you, but also for those closest to you. You want to be mindful of that. Carve out times that are completely devoted to your family and friends. Be present when you’re around them (meaning: no phones, iPads, or other devices that connect you to the cyber world).
5. Schedule blogging time. You’ll be amazed how much more you’ll get done, once you spend less time online. That said, it’s easy to return with full steam – ready to post all the things you’ve been wanting to share. Really think about how much time you’re able and willing to spend on blogging, then limit yourself (e.g. although I’ve failed miserably so far, it’s my goal to get off the computer by 7:30 each night.)
6. Think of ways to decrease screen time: Aside from staying within your limits, you can significantly decrease screen-time by doing more of your work offline. Instead of searching Pinterest for hours, practice your own artistic skills. Take photographs, learn basic graphic design techniques, craft something. Instead of typing your draft on the computer, gather your thoughts on a piece of paper. Typing and refining your words will come a lot easier that way. Decreased screen time will also allow for more of your own imagination to develop. While I love to be inspired by others’ creativity, I believe that there can be an input-overload. When you constantly take in, you end up comparing more and creating less of your own.
7. Get up and move! Take regular breaks. This has not been an easy one for me (I can get really focused), but it really makes a difference. When I make time for regular 5 min breaks of stretching, sit-ups or small tasks around the house, that require me to get up and move every 30 min. or so, I’m that much more productive.
Whether you’re thinking about stepping away for a while or simply find a better balance between the online and offline world, I hope these tips will be helpful along the way. And if you’ve found the right balance for yourself and would like to share some tips, do share! I’d love to hear!