Making the Most of Slow Seasons to Break Out of OverwhelmFeb 09, 2022
When I say, “Make the most of slow seasons.” You might be thinking, “What planet is she from where there is a slow season! Sign me up, I want to go there!”
As unrealistic as it may seem, we all have a varied pace over time. Some seasons are slower. Some faster. The dilemma is that when we hit a lull, we tend to fill it up so quickly with more “stuff” that we miss the lull.
I opened my calendar this week and saw a “lull”. It was a rare moment. My first instinct was to get that calendar full.
- Check in on clients to see who might need to schedule
- Look at ways I can get ahead on a few projects
- Jump into that back burner project that I’ve been putting off
- Look at my inbox and see all the things I’ve been neglecting
All noble ambitions, for sure! So, I jump ahead adding more to my plate without really thinking it through. Next week comes and all the things that I add in this slower moment come back to haunt me. Then, I spiral into overwhelm as I realize that I put too many irons into the fire. My perception is that I have been busy all along yet in reality I simply missed my moment to take advantage of the “lull”.
We work better if we use the “lull” to moderate our pace. To reset and refocus so that we are working on the “right stuff” rather than all the “stuff”.
The #1 complaint I hear from leaders is that they just don’t have enough thinking time. Too much to do. Too many pressures. Others who need attention. Trying to block a day or half day always gets bumped for more pressing matters. Then, thinking time never happens. I get it. I live it, too.
What if we stopped seeing blocking time as our only option. What if we started tapping into the natural rhythms of our year, our week and our day to insert things like thinking time, celebrating, dreaming, resting, observing.
What is your yearly pace?
Every team has seasonal ebb and flow to the work they do. For some the end of the year is a big push and quarter one of the new year is a lull. Others experience a summertime dip as programming slows. Take a look over your last year and notice your lull.
Then, think about what you can plan every year at the same time during this slow season. A retreat. A bonus day off. An at work day with no meetings allowed. Schedule in reflection or prayer time every week in your slow month. Think of what can create a more intentional culture of reflection, celebrating or observing.
What is your weekly pace?
My week tends to be packed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If you look at your week, you probably will notice some sort of pattern to your week as well. Knowing what days of the week are busier and slower can help you plan in more intentional pauses that can energize you or your team. These are the moments to step back and notice things you miss when you are driving through the to-dos.
What is your daily pace?
While each day may take on a different trajectory based on work demands, meetings, or the unexpected. Noticing how your day tends to flow and when you have the most energy in the day can give you clues as to the opportune time to take a “thinking break” and reset your brain that’s in overdrive. It’s in these moments that the most unexpected thought or renewed energy can reset the trajectory of your day and your energy.
Taking advantage of slow seasons by adjusting your pace might look different for you than others. It might also look different for you from one day to the next, depending on what you need to get the most out of your “slow” season.
A pause could look like going to a coffee shop or working from home with a note pad and drawing and dreaming and writing. It could look like grabbing a coffee or lunch with a colleague and chatting about work or non-work related topics. A longer pause might look like time off from work to do something unrelated to work for a day or planning a week long vacation. I might suggest that taking advantage of slow seasons might look multidimensional.
- Some of your pauses are planned through the day or week. Others are annual.
- Some of your intentional “breaks” from the norm are short. Others are long.
- Some pauses are with others. Others may be best if you are on your own.
Where do you want to adjust your pace to take advantage of a lull instead of going right past it with more “to-dos”? It might be your day, your week, or your year. Just pick one thing you could try to change up the pace so you can get the most from your slow season (or moment). Give it a try and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear what's working for you and add it to my own growing list of options to slow my pace when needed. If a quick strategy session will get you thinking about what doing less better is for you, then sign up for a free 27 minute strategy session today.
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