How to Eat a Whale
The Best Diet You Can Ask For
I just got back after a week away and I already have things piling up at my door. An endless stream of emails, a to-do list a mile long, and angry Facebook arguments to lose myself in. It’s like I’m trying to drink from a firehose.
After a break it’s quite daunting to get back in the mix of things. There’s wayyyy too much going on in the world to truly jump headfirst into the stream. So whenever I get back from a break, I like treating myself to an information diet.
The Information Diet
Imagine that after a relaxing period of time away from working that your brain atrophies. In essence, it does. You are unused to the torrent of information coming at you and so when you return back into the fray of normal life, it’s quite a daunting task to handle all of the things coming at you.
Take a deep breath… pick one thing to do. Turn off all your devices. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of Internet frenzy or news stories.
When I first begin again, I limit my information consumption and production. It’s easy to gorge yourself on new ideas and content when you’ve been away for so long. The tantilizing morsels of factoids can waste whole afternoons. Resist the temptation and dial down that stream to a trickle. Newsfeeds and social media will always be there. By putting away your phone and computer, it enables you to focus on the most important thing you need to accomplish.
The Most Important Thing
With the consumption diet you just provided yourself, it is also helpful to have a production diet. Your mental muscles are weak after disuse and take awhile to warm up. Pick one thing and do that. Make it simple. You shouldn’t expect much from yourself after time away from working.
By consuming very little and producing only one thing, you can ramp up your work over the following couple days to ensure that stress levels don’t rise and you don’t burnout. You have a paper that you didn’t work on at all during break? Do that and only that for a few hours. Once you finish, do something else.
Multitasking doesn’t work. The same can be true with dividing your attention by watching TV, reading articles, and talking to people. Give yourself time. If you haven’t done art in awhile, make a goal to make one line in your sketchbook every day. Don’t pay attention to anything else. Put blinders on until that task is completed. Give yourself an information diet and before you know it, you’ll be back in the groove of things. How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. ER.