How do you let yourself take a break when you’ve got a deadline looming plus other important tasks which are competing for your attention? You’ve been focusing on those other things to finish them. But the deadline for that ONE thing arrives and you’re thinking, ‘Oh dear, what do I do, how do I start? Am I going to drop a ball?’

We all find ourselves in that position at times. It’s normal. I find myself in that position right now with this blog post. I have given myself the deadline to publish a blog post every two weeks on a Wednesday by noon UK time. I originally did it to instil discipline to create a habit. Sometimes I don’t reach the noon deadline, but I usually publish every two weeks on a Wednesday unless I’m on holiday.

But I sit here this morning wondering what to write about. I look at my editorial calendar. The suggested topics on living with a challenging health issue are interesting and I do want to write about them. But they require some more thought on my part. Which requires more time than I have at present.

Time is ticking on by so I this time I am going to let myself take a break and just write about what is going on for me right now. This is a real time post, I’m writing as I think and trying to help you apply the learning too, so let’s see how this evolves.

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One eye on the juggling, one eye on the dropped ball. B Babcock 2016

How you let yourself take a break

First, I am asking myself…

What’s the worst that can happen?

Really and truly, the worst. This is my ‘how to gain perspective’ question on an issue.

Will the world end?


Will you never read another post of mine again?


Will someone be checking up on me and at 12:01 ask where today’s post is?

Most likely not.

Will I post this by noon?

Maybe not. We’ll see. Check the time posted above to see if I made it.

Ok, we’ve established that the world will not end. And the worst that will happen is I won’t post by my desired deadline and people may stop reading my blog.

Can I live with all that?

Yes. I may not like all of it, but I can live with it and continue with other things in my life.

Ask yourself: What am I learning?

I noticed I felt ugh in relation to possibly not meeting the noon deadline. The ugh feeling is in my stomach. It’s like black string knotting itself together.

I love meeting a deadline and even being early. Even though I am trying to be quick, this blog is evolving and I am noticing I do not like to rush that evolving process. Interesting. I also still have the illustrations to draw. But maybe I will give myself another break and not draw them?

Then focus on what you’re learning about your learning

This is about standing back and taking the ‘meta’ position. Or in lay person’s language: being the fly on the wall and noticing how you go about things in your life.

Reflecting on what you are learning provides double learning. It is reinforcing what you’ve learned and gives you more learning. Good stuff and so an important skill worth enhancing.

Notice how I got clear on what I was feeling in my body and my thought process in relation to missing the deadline. Doing that is leading me to this realisation – It’s important to me to let something like a blog evolve, which means I can’t force the blog to come into being. Why that is, I do not yet know.

Consider how your priorities fit in to all this

I notice I am thinking of my priorities and how I determine them. This somehow figures into when I let myself take a break although I’m not sure how yet. I just notice this keeps coming up for me as I am writing this blog so that means I need to pay some attention to it.

Using the importance/urgency grid helps me determine my priorities

The importance/urgency grid consists of four categories and you categorise your tasks according to how important and urgent they are.

  1. Important and urgent
  2. Not important but urgent
  3. Important but not urgent
  4. Not important and not urgent

It’s important to know how you determine what is important to you

For me, it’s where I feel I can live my values and use my strengths on something I really enjoy doing. That’s three criteria: it aligns with my values, I can do what I’m good at and I enjoy it.

I love writing. Am pretty good at it. And I love sharing what I learn with others in the hopes that they will find it useful to themselves in some way. If I’ve done that, I’m a happy camper.

Writing blog posts gives me that opportunity. And that may be the reason I like to give the blog post the time to evolve as I write it. So another learning is I need to schedule time in to flesh out my ideas on topics for blog posts.

When you know why something is important to you, it makes it easier to prioritise it

But I don’t have tons of time right now as I have a meeting in central London on a research project related to Transverse Myelitis later this afternoon. And research is another favourite activity which I’m good at.

And some items can actually wait another day to be done

Timing is another consideration when it comes to letting myself take a break. Some items can wait to be done.

Giving myself permission to take a break

This is the big one. And the one thing that many people, including myself, can fall down on. We simply do not give ourselves permission to do what we want to do and many times, know is darn good for us.

This is a normal part of life, but it’s important to be aware of. If you don’t let yourself take a break, you don’t give yourself that permission, you can run yourself ragged.

Also, when you’re aware of when you let yourself take a break and why, that reinforces how you do that. It’s therefore easier to repeat this in the future.

So where am I know in relation to letting myself take a break?

I established I:

  • Wanted to write a blog today but that I didn’t have the time to write a meaningful post on a topic about living well with a challenging health issue.
  • Gave myself a break from writing on my usual topic.
  • And gave myself permission to write on this topic instead.
  • Also, I gave myself permission to miss the noon deadline, despite feeling ugh about it.
  • But I can publish this post before leaving for my meeting.
  • I am still going to draw the illustrations because that’s an important outlet of creativity for me. But I just may do two instead of the usual three.
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Giving oneself permission to hold less and not juggle. B Babcock 2016

I am noticing how knowing what is important to me is a consideration regarding when I give myself a break and when I don’t.

I’m also noticing how much I enjoyed writing this post using a very in the here-and-now approach and how much I learned. On top of that, this is the least amount of time ever I spent on writing a post! Bonus! There is more learning in that I am sure. But you know what, I’m going to let myself a take a break from that.

What’s it like for you?

How do you give yourself permission (or not) to take a break? What do you find easy or difficult about taking a break for yourself?

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2016

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