Featured Image. Cup and note pads. Photo from Pixabay

What changes I have made thanks to my Hiatus

I’m back!ย  And with a new look to my blog, I hope you like it ๐Ÿ™‚

I did miss being on this blog and on my little pieces of the internet, but I am so glad I took this hiatus.ย  It truly cleared my head, helped me resettle and gave me some insights into destructive behaviour patterns I’d started to form.

In truth, I went into this hiatus thinking it would give me back my energy, nothing more.ย  Not really surprising as I had started to have negative thought.ย  But instead, I gained so much more.

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Acknowledging the Priorities

The first week of my hiatus was just chilling (the rule from my partner) and wow, it’s been a LONG time since I just sat and chilled for an extended period of time.

A lot of emotional outbursts occurred that left me hollowed out and raw.ย  Most likely a few years of crap I had just been pushing down in order to carry on.

After that cathartic week, I found myself bubbling with ideas and a thirst for creativity which I thought I’d lost.

So I took the time to really think about everything and decide what were truly my priorities.

What I realised was the “extra” stuff (eg social media and other minutiae of life) was taking precedence over everything.

I slotted in the things that really mattered AROUND those, rather than the other way around.ย  Not sure when the hell that happened but it had.

So I re-established my priorities and kept it to 3 main things:

  • Connections (family & friends)
  • Writing (my novels)
  • Business (my shop)

Everything else, no matter how much I enjoyed doing it, was not a task priority.ย  In the past, I have had like 6 priority markers but that is not healthy.ย  So I’m focusing on just these three.DividerLine-Bold

Cutting myself some Slack

I have always had high expectations of what I need to do, what others expect of me and what I should be completing.

I have also been able to manage these well, but the problem is when something trips me up and I stumble, even if it’s totally out of my control (eg ending up in the hospital, death of a family member) it throws me completely.

I end up punishing myself for “failing” to keep going and it’s become more intense over the last few months.

So I need to remind myself (frequently) that I don’t need to do everything, that I don’t need to keep pace with everyone else or even my own warped expectations.

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Quiet Head Space

It’s shocking to realise just how little “quiet head space” we give ourselves.ย  Even when I did yoga I found I had a list of things trawling through my head.

When I sat watching movies, I’d grab my phone or tablet throughout just to “check” something before I forgot.

I never just gave myself some real time off.ย  During the hiatus, I did just that and yes it’s actually a little scary giving yourself time with your thoughts.

Quiet head space. Silhouette of a woman in the sunset. Image from Pixabay

But after a few days, the noise quietens and you realise all these distractions you keep throwing into your path aren’t necessary.

So now I plan to give myself real “quiet” time, whether that’s just meditating, daydreaming, reading or watching movies.ย  But it will be done without the need for additional distractions.DividerLine-Bold

Deep Focus

You will probably notice that my blog theme and page layout is different.

For years I’ve been contemplating a new look to this blog, new theme, new layout style but I would tweak something and carry on, then tweak something else later.

This left my blog with an inconsistent look, so then I’d go back through and “fix” the old posts.

However, I hadn’t fully decided on the look so I was wasting my time with all these changes without even being sure they were what I wanted.

During the hiatus, I did some deep focus on several things, one of them being this blog.ย  I really thought about what I wanted it to look like, the style of the layout, the images etc.

NEW slim banner-Newsletter-SMALL

Then I spent time actually working on it – I checked dozens of themes until I found the right one.ย  I tested it (normally I don’t do that), to make sure it worked how I wanted.

I looked at my pages and my layout and my schedule.ย  It allowed me to create a working cheatsheet for my blog and a stronger, more streamlined schedule.

Without that deep focus, I would never have managed it.ย  I did the same thing with my business, and not only has it helped me work out the kinks and make it better for my customers, but it has also reignited my enjoyment for working it.

By doing this I gave everything an overhaul and I’m so much happy with them.

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Routine is Important

One thing I’ve always known (but that fell to the wayside) is that routine is important to me.ย  I work best with a structured system.

The reason this fell apart was I set up a routine and then new things needed to be added in and instead of taking the time to make sure I wasn’t overloaded, I just dumped new tasks in.

All this did was scramble my brain, overfill my days and leave me exhausted and grumpy.ย  Not a great combo.

So I had to start from scratch.ย  Cut away everything and decide what really needed to be done, the best days for me to do them regarding time and energy levels.

I also made sure to schedule in break time.ย  Such as acknowledging to myself that I don’t work weekends.ย  Just because I work for myself doesn’t mean I should be working all the time as this leads to burnout.

So I made a more reasonable schedule.ย  Which meant cutting time on certain things, but that’s okay.ย  The things that were cut were not my priorities and I reminded myself I couldn’t do everything.

It was shocking how often I had to remind myself of that!

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Regular Breaks

This month off was exactly what I needed and my partner enjoyed his moment of “I told you so” ๐Ÿ˜€ which he really deserved.

However, I don’t want to end up taking a month off again because I become overwhelmed and stressed and depressed.ย  I want to AVOID that in the first place.

Cup and book image from Pixabay

So with that in mind, I have scheduled in four weeks off a year to give myself a full rest.ย  Each quarter, for one week, I will step away from the computer, the novels, the business and just focus on giving myself some time.

The week will be an Unwind Week where I just read, watch movies, go for walks and don’t think about anything else during that period.

I will be starting with a week at the end of September and I have already set a reminder in my phone so I can’t forget.

What do you do to make sure you don’t overstretch yourself or suffer from burnout?

Share your Thoughts image.

Happy writing

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61 comments

  1. Welcome back. And the new look is cool and snazzy.

    I’ve been blogging on and off since 2011. And it’s exhausting. In early December 2011, I found myself getting into a rut, putting pure unadulterated crud. The blog was beginning to feel like a job. Plus family issues were being put on my plate and wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was getting burnt out. So I took a break to clear my head, attend to matters that really needed attention, and returned a month later.

    I was putting out fifteen hundred words per post every week. I smartened up my site and cut back on my posting output. I started taking regular breaks and the blog lasted from July 2011 to October 2015.

    Welcome back, Ari. The new improved Ari.

    1. Thanks for your message Tom. I truly understand. It can get so overwhelming and tiring. I’ve had moments like that where I stopped enjoying blogging and it was just too much like a chore.

      Sometimes we do need to take those breaks, make those changes in order to keep going ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I forgot to say the new improved site looked snazzy and * classy* – I suspect your site is now more reflective of you.

        Don’t be afraid to take a break whenever you need one. To that end, it might a good idea to have a few blog posts in surplus that you can post at a moments notice. To show the world you can still deal with the blog and have the flu (you choose the malady) at the same time. Plus they’re handy to have when life goes a little bit strange and throws you a curve ball.

      2. Aww thank you Tom. Yes I think the new look on my site is more reflective of me. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Actually I did just that! During my hiatus, about the 3rd week in I was innudated with new blog post ideas. I already have the next 2 weeks all written and scheduled and have 40+ (mostly) prepped to be dropped in at a moment’s notice ๐Ÿ˜€ It makes things SO much less stressful

  2. Hi Ari, lovely to have you back! You have been doing a massive amount of work for us to keep us informed and supported and it’s so appreciated, but those three things of yours have to come first, so well done for getting some relaxation in and some perspective that comes from that. The blog looks classy, bold and clear. I keep wondering about changing my theme but find the idea daunting, so I keep tweaking my current one! I’m not as savvy as you with the techy side of things, but having said that your posts have been very helpful to me in this regard and in many other ways too! To answer your question about avoiding burn-out, I did find myself deciding to post once every two weeks instead of weekly, and to visit others blogs, primarily sticking to my favourites – and you are naturally one of them. Cheers, Ari.

    1. Thanks so much, Lynne. I appreciate your kind words. Aww that is so nice of you to say, I was totally going for bold and classy! ๐Ÿ˜€ So I’m glad the theme works well.

      There’s a cool feature when changing themes, if you click on a theme you link there is a way to check out a demo and even “try it” where you end up in a version where your blog is in that theme and you can see how it looks. Unless you click Activate and publish, you can just come out of it without making any changes.

      If you ever need any help re changing your theme or anything just let me know (one thing though, if you change theme, back up your blog first before you do, just in case!) ๐Ÿ˜€

      I know what you mean. I have a list of my fave blogs, broken down over 6 days a week and I check a few each day. Stops me struggling and I worked out which blogs post on which days so usually I check them the day after they post. It has made things so much easier for me ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thanks, Ari! I do back up my blog regularly, thanks to a post you did on it…and I take your point about the trying out a theme with a preview – so will consider this for the future for sure. Change is always nice in this respect. And thanks for your offer! Cheers :>)

  3. Welcome back Ari – I read your post with interest as I mentioned before your hiatus my own issues of trying to cram too much into my day and feeling burnt-out as well and I don’t juggle as many balls in the air as you do, that’s for sure. Your hiatus was good for your mind and physical well being. You’re right … it was okay for your partner to say “I told you so.” (And yes, sometimes you just have to concede that people who care for you are in the know.) I am glad you are energized and have promised yourself a week off per quarter – good for you. Enjoy those planned walks, keep your energy level up. I like the new look of your blog … I just hopped on to take a peek.

    1. Thanks so much Linda. lol he doesn’t often get an “i told you so” moment, so I let him say it since it was well deserved. He’s even booking his time off to coincide with my quarterly weeks off, which is mega incentive for me to actually take them.

      EEHH I bought myself a new camera (after I drove over the last one) so in the next few weekends I will be trying to get more photos ~(currently trying to figure out how it works)

      1. You’re right Ari – it was well-deserved kudos to him. That’s great to be off the same time … a great incentive to keep you adhering to your new principles.

        I am still trying to learn the DSLR. Over our Memorial Day Weekend a few weeks ago, I took one very rainy day to study the book to learn manual mode and then went out to try what I learned. I will use manual mode, but if I see a good photo op, will switch to automatic mode until I really know what I am doing. (It could take a while – I came home with lots of images that were totally black.)

      2. oh no, what a shame that your photos all came out totally black! I managed to get through some of the manual before calling defeat and asking for my partner’s assistance. I currently just use Macro and Action shot, mainly because my hand shakes too much ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a shame we’ve had mostly bad weather over the weekends so I’ve not been able to go out and get some good shots.

      3. Yes, they were pretty bad Ari. I spent one entire day of the long Memorial Day weekend studying the manual. Felt like I needed a cheat sheet to remember the main points so when I messed up the shots, I wasn’t proud of myself. With my camera you can either go totally manual or there are different settings on the dial that you can still rely on the camera to do some settings for you without going totally automatic. Same with us as to the weather. With the exception of this last weekend, we have had many rainy weekends here too.

      4. Oooh I love the idea of a cheatsheet for the camera!

        All I’ve been doing is taking photos for my business, which is all just indoors. I really do want to get out and take some shots, though I will keep my automatic setting on for a while I think.

        Good luck with your next photo session ๐Ÿ™‚

      5. The cheatsheet works Ari and if it is just scenery, I try the auto setting, then also manual to experiment, but not totally lose the shot if I mess up. But I use auto more than manual … I’ll learn gradually. If it an animal or bird, it is strictly automatic for me as it takes too long to fumble with the lens setting, then I have nothing at all for my efforts. A fellow blogger who has taught herself a lot about DSLR photography told me that she studies what the camera does for the automatic shots and teaches herself using the recommended settings as an example.

      6. My partner is off next week and we’ve decided to try and get out a bit more so I’ll be testing out my new camera then. Hopefully I’ll have my mini cheat sheet up and running by then.

        That blogger’s advice is good, I might try that myself.

      7. Well enjoy your time away Ari and keep up the routine you laid out for yourself and shared in your post when you first returned from hiatus. It is good advice to follow the suggested settings until you get the hang of it, though it sure is tempting to just use the auto settings especially if you don’t want to miss a shot.

      8. Sadly, this week that was meant to be my partner and I taking time off together, got interrupted with illness and family drama. *sigh* but we actually got out to a nearby natural location today and I made sure to take my camera and snapped some simple pictures. I may actually put them in a blog post. ๐Ÿ™‚

      9. Well that is unfortunate Ari – so much for a little “bonus” time to be together. Sigh. At least you salvaged one day out of the week anyway. I will look forward to seeing them. I’ve not posted much lately – two weeks ago today I got my finger caught in a new garage door that opened differently than the former one. I am very lucky I did not do more damage than I did, but my finger is healing nicely with nothing broken, amazing considering how swollen and bruised it was.

      10. We have decided that every Sunday we are going to visit the nature reserve for a walk and to feed the birds, so that will be fun.

        Oh no! I am so sorry to hear your hurt yourself, though glad it’s not broken. I hope it is healing well.

      11. I’m glad you have decided to do that weekly trip to a nature nook Ari because it will be something fun to look forward to and just get away for a while for a little adventure in between week-long vacations.

        I just thought of you today because we are swamped at work and my boss asked me to work this weekend – it is the first weekend in ages that it has not rained, been horribly hot and humid, and I also lost some “me time” due to the garage door debacle and then my finger … I know he was not happy when I told him I have counted on this weekend to just get away from everything and so can’t work. Since I am like you and work from home, sometimes it is necessary to just escape the house for a while. I was not going to throw my little bit of “me time” away as I really need it. I realize I may get to some of these parks and there will be flooding, as we had so much rain in May and June that there is lakeshore flooding at all the parks that are near large bodies of water, so likely I’ll be wearing boots. But it will be good to get out. I did say I’ll work later on the weekdays (not that this idea appealed much to me, but I made that overture.)

        Take some peanuts for the squirrels too Ari. I have a fellow blogger who is from India but has been living in Saudi Arabia for many years. Her husband was part of a medical group. She always liked the blog posts about the squirrels. Well this blogger is now taking classes to finish up a specialized medical degree and the classes are in Yale, in Connecticut here in the U.S. She had never seen squirrels “in real life” and is really fascinated with them.

        My finger is almost healed now Ari – it will be four weeks tomorrow since I smashed it in the garage door when the panels closed up tight. I am very fortunate to be honest – it could have been a real disaster for me.

      12. I’m glad you were able to get out of working on the weekend. I think sometimes people, family, friends, bosses, don’t realise that it’s still WORK when we work from home and we do still need our own personal time.

        Honestly, since I moved here 2 years ago, I’ve only seen 1 squirrel and it was in a small park in the middle of Belfast! lol

        Not sure where the rest are hiding. I guess I’ll have to make do with feeding the ducks and swans, and if I’m lucky the robins ๐Ÿ˜€

      13. I did that this past weekend again Ari. We’ve been swamped at work and I said that I needed to get away both mornings and ended up staying away a good part of each day. He said “fine” and dropped it but had expected me to work both weekend days. I just discussed this topic with another blogger who works from home in the medical field and we agreed it is great to be indoors when it is a blizzard, torrential rain or searing hot, but you start to feel confined after a while and need to escape, especially if you’ve been busy. I escaped so much this weekend that I got sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes trying to take a picture of a fawn – but it was worth it in the end – a break from the tedium of work is all we need sometimes.

      14. I know what you mean. I am a complete home bird so am very content being at home, but even I became aware of how confining it was if I didn’t get out a few times a month.

      15. I’m real content at home as well Ari – I have no relatives, just me, so I really don’t have unexpected guest popping in (or even calling) and all my friends I keep up with on social media, so yes, there is a need sometimes to just connect with the outside world besides via a computer keyboard.

  4. Welcome back Ari! Your hiatus appears to have done you the world of good and I’m so glad to hear it! One thing I’ve had to learn to do is to say “no” to some things – to gain an understanding of what I am realistically capable of achieving in a certain period of time, and ensuring I don’t accept extra non-essential tasks / opportunities outside of that. It’s shockingly hard to do, but once you get in the habit, it starts getting easier.

    And I really like the way you highlighted the importance of scheduling your “downtime”. For the last 6.5 years I’ve been a uni student also juggling part-time work, and since uni is non-stop homework etc. during the semester it’s really easy to feel guilty for taking a day off here and there. But it’s so important too, and when you give your brain regular rests it becomes so much more efficient!!

    1. Thanks so much Rebecca. Ah yes, the dreaded no. I need to work harder on that. I can say it to some people, by others I end up saying yes even before my brains kicked in then sit there thinking “why did I say that?!”

      OMG taking breaks is so hard, we all know they are important but actually TAKING them is so difficult. I have alarms in my diary now so I can’t “forget” any breaks. I am even working hard to STOP working on weekends. 7 days a week is just too much.

      1. Oh my gosh, I set alarms for everything. From when to do updates on my shop, to having a break to reminding myself to fill out a form… I can write these things down, but if I don’t CHECK the list/diary/post it then I just miss it. An alarm fixes everything.

  5. That time is so important. I was forced to do that because of things that arose in my personal life. It really helps. And I learned that jumping back in full-fledged isn’t necessary. It’s nice to find that sweet spot and stick to it so the burnout doesn’t jump back around so fast.

    1. Thanks Carmen. I am sorry you were focused to do that, but I’m glad to hear taking time away helped. Burnout is such bad and we often don’t see it until it hits us in the face. I hope you’re doing okay now.

  6. Love the look.

    Here in the States, it’s hard to take a single day off, not to mention four weeks. I know I desperately need some time off with no demands on me, but every time I schedule it, something happens to derail it. I hope it will happen soon, or something will force it to happen.

    I’m so glad you’re back and with a renewed sense of purpose.

    1. Aww thank you so much Devon, I am so pleased with my new blog theme.

      Luckily, because I work for myself I have more freedom to make changes and take breaks. Though technically I did keep my online shop open throughout the hiatus, just did nothing with it throughout the month.

      It’s sad when we aren’t able to take the well-needed breaks. I truly hope you are able to get that time to take a break soon, my friend.

  7. It’s good to see you back, in whatever form that’ll be. And I hope your time off will lead to more focus.
    And, if I was to share my favorite advice to (almost) any problem in life: just walk it off in the hills. If I wander every other Saturday at least, it’ll easily add up to four weeks over the year – and with some degree of consistency.

  8. Hi Ari
    I like how you noted that structure was important for “you” because some folks need less and some need more –
    I also enjoyed reading your experience and by sharing so openly – well many readers can glean – and too often folks keep their “wellness adventures” so private and the more we share the more we help our fellow man! Need to share with tact of course and with discretion but the more we share wisdom and growth ideas it helps so much!
    And love your point about how working for yourself requires that extra discipline –
    And the thing I noted in life is that because we are human and not robots – we cannot always adhere to a schedule and while we need it to guide and routine helps us all – sometimes we just have to let the season breathe and modify plans A for example – I was going to take a March blog break- but felt wrong to force it – that led to a special
    Month of promoting a book in April (something that I was waiting to do and then it unfolded –
    Such a blessing)
    And now that June is here – I am going to unplug – and still
    Finding my grooves with blog fasting – because after five years of blogging I have had had many pauses – and the worst ones (for me) are three months off – I used to take the summer off-
    Anyhow – we change as we age and so should our MO- eh?

    And glad you found the right theme and look for your blog –
    And just a tidbit to share – did you know that “some” folks never visit actual blogs and they view posts through the reader – well that is the case for me – very rarely do I go to someone’s site – it works for me that way-
    I sure love the reader –

    Anyhow – welcome back and wishing you a wonderful June 2019

    1. Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh yes, I know what you mean. I thrive with structure whereas I know so many people who really work better with a sense of spontnaty so I don’t think people can follow someone else’s path and it work for them.

      I totally agree, it’s good to share our experiences as someone else might be going through something similar and may need to hear that you got through it, that you tried this or that and what helped.

      I hope your unplug goes well ๐Ÿ™‚

      lol yes I know some people only use the reader. I tried it, but personally I prefer to go directly to their site these days. Whatever works for us, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Thanks for the reply – unplugged only going so-so – had some stuff to tend to – but now hoping to really get away a bit – cheers to a good June for us both (and thanks again for a heart share and update here in this post – it resonated with me this month)

  9. Ari,
    I am glad to see that the vacation did you some good! Sometimes life gets annoyingly overwhelming. I’m glad that the time off allowed you to prioritize what was important to you. I hope this change will continue for you throughout the rest of your year and beyond. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks for reading, Wilmar. You are so kind ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes it made such a difference and is helping me to keep focused on what I NEED to stay focused on.

  10. I think the one week off every quarter is a great idea.
    I’m glad your time away was relaxing AND fruitful.
    Quieting yourself scares a lot of people. But once you actually battle out your demons and give it some times, it becomes SO helpful.

    1. Thanks for your message. Yes, I think that quarterly break will help to keep me from going crazy and keep me on track.

      OMG it was creepy quietening myself and listening (without distraction) to all my mental thoughts. But by the third week, so much more calm. ๐Ÿ˜€

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