I’m guessing that on the other side of this holiday, you want to head into 2021 laser-focused and full of energy, tackling the big work that’s been on your backburner. You’re planning to swing from this year’s bust into a boom.

But have you ever started January all guns blazing then quickly found yourself bogged down? This is why New Years’ resolutions have that heartsink vibe: BOOM! 💥BUST! ❄️ And this year, we’re pulled extra tight between them:

⭕ You’re having a break from work, but you might not get much time to rest, because Christmas is an extremely busy time

⭕ You want a shiny fresh start, but life in Jan 21 is likely to be much the same as Dec 20. The blockers are still in play after new year

⭕ You crave clarity at long last, but there’s a dodgy economic/political backdrop

⭕ You intend to get your big work out, but it’s been under your desk so long that it’s all tangled up, like last year’s fairy lights.

Let me introduce an alternative: The Regeneration Cycle. You can build stability, flow and consistency instead of riding the boom and bust rollercoaster. Here goes…

We tend to assume we create results like this:

Do Work ➡️ Squeeze in other stuff ➡️ Work ➡️ Squeeze ➡️ More Work ➡️Sque ➡️ WORK ➡️ Sq ➡️ WWW OOOO RRRRRR KKKKKKK

So basically, there’s 2 choices. Be doing your work, or be squishing in everything else. Eat, sleep, see family, car MOT, watch telly, dentist, Christmas prep… And it’s strongly suggested you should try to keep Life to a minimum because Work. No wonder we talk about finding a better work / life balance.

But the slash in work / life doesn’t actually exist. We are not machines with an on / off switch. Pre-covid you may have had habits that marked the passages of time when you moved from your “on” to your “off”, like putting on your smart work shoes in the morning, or playing Angry Birds on the train home. You didn’t notice them because they were routine, but these little transition rituals are part of your cycle, in the same way that Spring and Autumn sit between Summer and Winter.

At this time of the year, our mood and focus is about hibernation, letting things settle, log fires and hot chocolate. Then – slowly but consistently – we’ll move into Spring. We don’t jump straight back into Summer.

Your creative energy is like this. You have cycles of productivity on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Sometimes we’re creating, and sometimes we’re resting. And sometimes, we’re moving between those states:

⬅️ We put up shoots and start regrowing: Spring

⬆️ We work, create, produce: Summer

➡️ We put our work down: Autumn

⬇️ We rest: Winter

This is the antidote to boom / bust, on / off, work / life: seeing how we flow through from creativity to de-stressing to resting to regenerating. It’s not as simple as having amazing days then terrible days, or a write-off year, followed by incredible success.

You have cycles that are as natural and real as the seasons – and if you are aware of these, then you’re working with yourself rather than against. In practice, this means:

🌱 making time for play, because that’s your springtime

🌞 scheduling harder tasks for summer

🍂 consciously transitioning from work to home (‘putting it down’)

❄️ resting before you get exhausted.

You can carry out experiments to discover what’s effective for you on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Today: notice how you “check out” from work at the end of the day. This weekend: notice which activities help you transition from your working week to your weekend.  This holiday: give yourself plenty of unstructured do-nothing-and-blob time.

All these are contributing to your work and life getting off the rollercoaster of boom / bust, and instead enjoying the flow and regeneration of sustainable creativity – a real gift. 🎁

This is the final email in a 3-parter about resisting 2021 work overload. Here’s part 1 (Using Your 2020 Hindsight) and part 2 (Year-End Reports Aren’t Just for the Finance Team).

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🎈 Fast Flow | The Regeneration Cycle 🎈

Have a look at the diagram at the top of this article. Every season has its own turn, and each is a transition from the previous to the next.

Tuning into your creative cycle may seem complex at first. You can be in today’s Autumn, in this month’s Summer, in the middle of actual Winter! Let the concept soak in, then take some time to get to know your own patterns. It’s a very personal exploration, so start small:

✏️ What helps you get going in the morning?

✏️ What do you notice about your most productive times of day, or of the month?

✏️ What marks your transition from work to home? From work to a holiday?

✏️ How much sleep do you need? What kind of holiday helps you to thrive?

✏️ If you play a little, what does that do for your energy the next day?

Any questions or insights, you know where I am! 😊