Something happens when we truly take time to pause and step away from work and the daily rush of things. The longer we can steep in that space, the more we come to realize what we truly need, what feels best, and the pace we want to set moving forward.
Join me on this weeks episode for a cozy conversation around making time for stillness, unplugging, what it means to plan for the future, and things to consider to make the most of your space mentally and physically.
In this episode we’ll explore:
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You are listening to episode 178 of The Mindful Productivity Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Steckler, and this episode is all about the pause in between. What does that mean? If you have a week, week or so or you're waiting for something for me personally right now recording this. This is the last week of the year. It's that pause between Christmas and New Year's, where I really don't know what to do with myself, but also I don't want to do much of anything at all, and it got me thinking about intentional pauses that we take in our life or don't take. And so in today's episode, I want to talk about the power of pausing, the power of taking an intentional pause and what you can do when there are pauses in your life where it just feels like you just want to get through it and get to the next thing. So grab a cozy cup of tea. We are going to dive into some reflections today, and as always, I hope you find this helpful. Let's get to it. Welcome to the Mindful Productivity Podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Steckler, and this is the place to be to live a more mindful and productive life. If you're ready to turn daily chaos into calm and start your days with intention, then get ready to join me as we dive deep into mindful living and personal productivity. It's time to connect with your true self so you can live the life you want to live, and it all starts now. Good morning, friends. Welcome back to the podcast. It is a very cold 16 deg here right now as I record this, so I've got a very piping hot cup of coffee that I will be drinking throughout today's episode. Very much needed, and it's super early in the morning here. And I haven't recorded a podcast in a couple of weeks. I decided to take a little bit of a pause for the end of the year, but I wanted to record something today since it's the last week of 2021 and wanted to do some reflecting. So this is really a great episode to listen to if you're nearing the end of any given year. But also if you want to be a little bit more intentional with creating an intentional space in between things or pausing. And one of the things I want to point out before we jump into today's episode is the definition of a pause because I think it brings a lot of clarity to what it actually means to take a pause. Right. So pausing is actually defined as an interruption of action or speech briefly. So this could be anything. But I like that because I like the idea of you're interrupting your action. So you're intentionally choosing to not take action on something. And I think a lot of times when I think about pausing, I feel guilty like I'm going against a project I'm working on or I'm going against productivity. But the chosen intention of interrupting my action and stopping and not only stopping, but really choosing to take that pause really just kind of resonated with me in a deeper way. And again, a lot of these things are very obvious definitions and things that we think about. They're not revolutionary in any way. But it really got me thinking about how often I don't intentionally pause. I just happened to find myself there, and that was this year for Christmas. So I had a really lovely Christmas, had my mom over, and it was just me and my mom and my husband, and we're all boosted and we all just stayed in. And it was really lovely. And I noticed that Christmas Eve at the beginning of the day, I found myself kind of reluctant to slow down and reluctant to pause and really excited to spend time with my family. But at the same time thinking, oh, but I've got so many things to do. This is going to take me away from that. And this just again served as a reminder of how needed it was for me to really take a deep pause. And so I found myself kind of sinking in to Christmas Eve and Christmas, and then the temperatures dropped here. We got a ton of snow the day after Christmas, and now it's still very cold. We're not going anywhere. There is ice everywhere, and the temps are going to stay this way for a while. And I noticed myself on kind of like the second or third day of really taking this pause. I noticed myself really enjoying it because I kind of got past that phase of almost resenting it and found myself really loving it. Right. Another example is kind of like sometimes I love taking baths. It's like one of my favorite things, but sometimes I don't want to necessarily take a bath in the evening because I want to Journal and do all these other things, and I usually take a longer bath. And sometimes I find myself reluctant to go start the water and get in there. But then once I sink into the tub and I let that hot, warm water envelope my body and I just feel so relaxed. Then I don't mind being in there. It's usually that moment where I find myself going, oh, you can stay in here as long as you want. Like, this is nice. And I think sometimes we take breaks or we take a pause, but we don't do it long enough. We don't really let ourselves sink into the tub, so to speak. We just kind of dabble in a break and we think, oh, yeah, if I just take a little break, if I just walk away from work or if I just whatever for a little bit, I'll feel better, and then I'll feel motivated to get back into it. I think the problem is that I don't think we truly are taking a break or taking a pause until we reach that moment where we've forgotten about work almost entirely. And that's what happened to me these past couple days. I found myself really just like, lounging eating lots of wonderful comfort food and drinking tea and hot cocoa. And me and my husband, we both ended up getting each other different Lego sets, which I thought was super fun because we're just children at heart. And I found myself putting together. He got me like, this little Camber Van RV. And so I was like, putting that together. And he was putting his together. I got him this Fender guitar Lego set. And so we were putting together our Lego sets and listening to stand up comedy and just laughing and having the best time. And I was so far removed from my business and my responsibilities that I wasn't even thinking about the fact that I even had a business or had responsibilities, right? I was truly purely in the moment. My focus was fine tuned on the very thing in front of me, which is something happiness. Researchers have proven that the more focused you are on a task, like something you really enjoy, whether it's like knitting or coloring or even hiking or something when you're really focused on what you're doing, that's actually one of the times where your brain is just pumping endorphins, like, you're actually extremely joyful in those moments, and it really creates a reverberating effect. Anyway, we were doing this putting together Legos, and I was like, I told my husband, I said, oh, my gosh. This is my first time putting together a Lego set. Like I played with Duplos when I was little. I remember telling my husband, like, oh, my gosh, I could really get into this like, this is so fun. And I was like, really flabbergasted at all the little details and the little tail lights for the camper van and the wheels worked and all this stuff. And I said, oh, my gosh, we could totally go to Target every couple of months and get new sets and do this. And he was like, oh, yeah, we were geeking out about that. And so then I did that on Christmas. And again, I had all these plans for my Christmas break. Right? I was going to play a bunch of games on my switch, my Nintendo switch. I was going to get out all my journals and do a bunch of planning. And even though these things are very relaxing for me, I found that once I sunk down into the moment, what I really wanted to do was not much of anything. So I spent a lot of time just, like sitting on the couch staring outside at the snow with my cup of coffee or whatever beverage I ended up having at the time snuggling with Bella. We watched quite a bit of TV. We started the show Yellowstone, which has been really good. There's a little bit of violent stuff and, like, Animal Deaths, which was kind of hard for me to watch, but the show itself is really good. And so we've been watching a bunch of that, and I kept telling my husband like, I feel like I thought I wanted to do all this stuff, like, I thought I wanted to play video games and do all these things where I'm actually doing something right. But I find myself just wanting to excuse me, literally sit on the couch and talk to you and lounge and really just stare at a wall. Like I found complete joy in just doing that, which also kind of speaks volumes to the fact that I really needed a break. Right? And so in doing this, I decided to just let myself sink into that. And the other day I did a puzzle. I spent like, two and a half hours putting together this puzzle. And again, same thing, just complete bliss complete. Wasn't thinking about all the things that bothered me in my life, wasn't thinking about the news, wasn't thinking about the pandemic. I just was, like, completely thinking about this puzzle in front of me. And I share this to say that I don't think we do this enough. I don't think we create intentional time to just do these simple, simple things that can really take us away from all this noise and just let us experience joy in the simplicity of being alive and doing something tactile. And I have really realized that I need to make more time for this. And I think I need to have a little bit of a hard and fast rule about it, actually. And I was actually thinking of even creating, like, a date night with myself once a week where maybe it's Thursday nights where I stopped working at four no matter what. Right. And then the rest of the evening, it's just like a date with myself, make a comfort meal, put on some tea, get out of paint by number, set, whatever. But get into something where you're going to be completely immersed and you're going to be able to think about nothing else than the paintbrush in your hand, because without that, it's just so easy to become forever immersed in everything. The noise will never stop. The work will never stop. The responsibilities will never end. And like I tell my husband, no one is going to advocate for your time off or your breaks except for you. And it's really true. Anyway, that's my big reminder to you if you needed to hear it just the power of pausing and not only pausing, but like letting yourself get into the bath of pausing, right? Like not just dipping your feet in and being like, okay, I had a break, like really letting yourself soak in. That because the deeper you get into that, the more you'll realize that you weren't actually taking breaks before you were maybe pushing your work to the side, but you were still looking at it out of the corner of your eye. Right. So that was my big reminder. And I also kind of like this week in between where it's like Christmas and New Year's, because it's always this really interesting pocket of time where it's one of the few times where I feel like I literally don't have to do anything. You've got a week before the New Year, and not that everything starts on January 1. I definitely don't buy into that, but I think we still feel that pressure, but it has me always slowing down. It has me reflecting, and I've really been thinking about what I want life to look like and how I don't want to have these pauses only at the end of the year or only when I reach a certain place with burnout where I have to. I really want to start creating almost like a mini sabbatical. Right. And this comes back to kind of creative nesting, which I've talked about before, but I guess that's different in the way that you're actually kind of doing creative work, but in a very cozy, slow way. This is more of something. I want to start scheduling where I've done business retreats before, where I take myself to a hotel for a night or two, and I do a bunch of business planning and strategizing. But I also want to make time to unplug and do nothing. And that's just as important. And again, I think it's important to have these for me, like a set time and have it on my calendar. Otherwise I don't do it. Another thing we did a few days before Christmas is we went out to one of our favorite cabins at a state park in the area, and it was really nice to unplug and get in nature. And it was also very cold there and just like, make coffee and sit outside in the rain and look at the forest and leading up to that, too. Same situation didn't want to go because I wanted to go, but I didn't want to go in the moment because I was like, oh, my gosh, I still have so much to do for pretty productive life life, which I'm putting together and launching soon. And I was like, oh, my gosh. I fantasized, like, if I just stayed home, I could just work, work, work the next 48 hours instead of going to this cabin and get so much done. But again, I've really found that this break has really reinvigorated my creativity. But also, I think it's important to really have that conversation with ourselves. That the reason that we're taking a pause shouldn't merely be because we're going to get more creative energy back. Right. Or it shouldn't be because we'll be that much more productive when we come back from our break or pause. I think we just need to pause period, and I really want to get out of that mindset of, oh, I'm taking a break so I can be more productive after, or I'm taking a pause so that I can tap back into my creativity and create a bunch of more content. Like, no, I also want to just pause because pausing is a human instinct, and it's wonderful and lovely and I can pause and then come back and not do anything. And that's also fine. And so I'm just really kind of playing around with my own thoughts and feelings about how I view work and running my business and being productive. So let me know if this resonates with you if you've had similar thoughts about it, but that's just been on my mind. So I wanted to also share a few of the things that I'm going to be doing kind of leading into the New year. And again, you could do this anytime, right. I love to do some of these things on, like, a quarterly basis, too, but I'm getting into some of my new journals and planners, so I have this one here. This is my hobanetic cousin, and this thing is amazing, and I've actually bought if you listen back to Episode 177, I talk about my planner planning planning planning plan, where I talk about all the different planners that I'm using for the year ahead. But I'm starting to get into those and really wanting to do more of a regular, ongoing check in with myself. So I do a weekly pulse point check in every week in my business, and I do daily check ins. I use my Energy Driver habit tracker, which helps me identify what those energy drivers are. And then I am doing those daily things, and that shows me data and everything. I'll have a link to that in the show notes, and I do that, but I want to get back into, not only like memory keeping, but also tracking other things. And I've started doing that in Notion, and that's been really nice. I find it's a lot easier for me to kind of like, open notion and create these templates that just tell me what to do and there's templates within each of the days, and I just go through and I tick what I've done and I answer questions that I have, and it also tells me what I'm currently working on and what my current tasks are, and that's all going to be a part of pretty productive life as well, which I'm really excited to share soon. So that's one thing that I want to get back into the habit of is, like, really doing that. So, like, daily check ins that are, like, less than five minutes, like, literally two to three minutes weekly pulse point check ins. I want to get back into doing more formalized monthly reviews, quarterly planning, and bigger picture planning. So I met with a couple of my mastermind friends a few weeks ago and we did a bunch of content planning, and that was really helpful to brainstorm with some other people. We actually did this really cool thing where we meet on Zoom and we have, like, a collaborative notion document template that I've created. And we actually went through. And we each spent about, I think, five minutes focusing on ideas for each other for, like, blog posts or podcast episodes. So I created a thing in the notion document. And then for my friend Jenny, who does mindful eating, we each took five minutes. And it was cool because you could, like, see everybody typing at the same time. And we each wrote down like, I wrote down everything I could think of under the sun of, like, blog post topic ideas for her questions. I had about her niche. Right. And we all did that. And so after five minutes, just five minutes, she left with probably close to 100 different blog post ideas, titles. Those could all be content. Those could be social media posts, like, whatever. And we did that for each of us. So a total of 15 minutes of creative brainstorming. And we each left with, like, close to 100 ideas, which blew my mind. And we're definitely going to do that more often. But using Notion has been really helpful. And in that session, we also did a little bit of forecasting and annual planning and what we want our revenue goals to be. And it's really fun to have a group of people you do that with. I love having a group of three. I just feel like that number works really well. And we got really lucky. We met each other back in 2016 when we were all just kind of starting our businesses. And we talk daily on Foxer. And that's just a little mastermind that we've created. And it works really well. I mean, if you can find those people, right, it's a roll of the dice. It's hard to find those people, but they've become like, some of my best friends as well as, like, besties. And that works really well for planning and getting, like, eyes and ears and other perspectives on your business plan and what you're doing and how you're launching things. It's just really helpful. So I love doing planning with those people and getting their perspective on things. And then I also love doing that personal planning aspect of things. Right. So again, I want to formalize more of this because one thing I found since the beginning of the pandemic is things have just felt a little chaotic. You're adjusting and adapting. And I cannot believe it's been two years of this already, as we all feel that way. But one thing I noticed was that my planning and the structure of my business in terms of month to month got a little chaotic, right. I found myself getting to the end of the month and being like, oh my gosh, how is it the end of the month already. I would like to review this and plan for the next month. So I actually want to go ahead and put those things on my calendar now and use these notion templates that I'm creating to structure that out more and then really get clear, because like, right now I know that my weekly Postpoint check in usually doesn't take me more than 90 minutes. And so that's on my calendar every single Friday, and I just do it, and I have a standard operating procedure for it. And I know what I'm checking the metrics, what's going well, sales, all that kind of stuff. And I want to expand that into monthly planning for sure quarterly annually and just kind of continue to fine tune my process in my business as you do. Right. So that's really exciting to look ahead and really start planning these things and putting them on my calendar and reminding myself of them, because if you don't create a do date when you're doing something, you don't necessarily do it right. You can give yourself a due date, like when you need to finish it, but that can get pushed. So I really find it helpful to have a do date. So those are some of the things that I'm going to be really doing in the New year, moving forward. And again, part of that is creating those intentional pauses and really taking time to sink into those breaks. And I think also one of the things I really want to spend just more time doing in this last week before the New Year begins is really just like prepping my space in my mind in my life cleaning up my office, really asking myself, what do you want available to you on your desk in Arm's reach when the New Year starts, right? What do you want your home to look like? Do you want to keep Christmas decorations up for another couple of weeks? That's fine. One of the other things I'm going to be doing is we have a ton of Christmas decorations. We have a small storage unit, and I realized that about I'd say 40% of our storage is Christmas decor. So we probably have, like, five or six tubs of Christmas stuff. I was like, wow, that's crazy. I mean, that's fine. We love it. But I want to make sure that all that stuff going back into storage is organized and labeled all of that stuff and properly stowed away and organized so that we can easily access things. Right. So putting away the Christmas decor this year is not just going to be shoving it in tubs and figuring it out in a year, but more so really organizing the entire little storage room so that's its own project. But just asking yourself, what are the things that I really want my home and life to look like? Maybe that means cleaning up the fridge or assessing what you normally buy at the grocery store or where you're spending your time. Who are you following on social media? Because all those things impact your life and your mentality and your mental health in huge ways. And so it's really worth asking yourself, what am I subscribing to? Right? Like what people? Different accounts. I'm following podcasts, whatever. What am I subscribing to? What am I intentionally creating in my feed again? One thing I did back in 2018 was I deleted all my Facebook friends because I just wasn't finding Facebook to be a place that I love being. And since then, I really don't use social media a whole lot for my personal life. Every now and then, I'll create a real or something on my personal Instagram. But that's purely for me. And I found it really nice to not constantly share my personal life. I found myself being a lot more private as I get older. And I love that. And again, that's everyone's personal choice, right? But since doing that on Facebook and really, instead following groups that I like using it intentionally for my business, I feel a lot better. So ask yourself, what do you want your home and space to look like? What do you want to be subscribing to? How are you going to make time to create intentional pauses in your life? And that's all I have for you this week. I hope this episode was helpful. I hope it sparked some kind of conversation in your head, or maybe with friends and family. And I really hope that you are staying warm and comfortable and cozy, no matter where you are. And thank you so much for being a listener of the Mindful productivity podcast. It means so much to me, and I'm so glad you're here it's I'll talk to you next week. Have a wonderful week ahead.