When my daughter was very young I read the advice about compassionate discipline. Giving time outs was the thing, and there’s even a formula for how they’re to be administered. I needed to be willing to give a time out at the site of the infraction, wherever it was occurring. One minute of quiet thinking time for each year of age, from which my daughter could emerge ready to re-engage with the world.
As my daughter got a little older, and a lot more articulate, there were times she would threaten me with a time out. This was usually when I wasn’t fully complying with her willful demands.
“Mommy, I’m gonna give you a time out,” she’d say.
“Oh, goodie,” was my reply. “One minute for every year of my age. Can I bring a book?”
Pretty soon she got wise to me and changed her tactics.
“Mommy, I’m gonna give you a no-time-out!”
Hasn’t it been like that since the day she was born? That was the day my dual career began. Each day, my short commute from office to home is like Clark Kent’s phone booth where I change from executive to Mom. My second job begins as soon as I step through the door.
Time outs have become my sanctuary. But now I refer to it as Me Time. And I don’t wait until I’ve come to the end of my rope to take some. In fact, now I have Me Time nearly every day.
Early in the morning I’m at the gym reading or writing while peddling. Even a half hour away from my desk during lunch can clear my head and power me up for the rest of the day. On weekends I may take my computer to the neighborhood coffee shop to write.
Me Time is not just decompression time. It’s writing time. It’s thinking time. It’s idea time. It’s time that makes me a better me, but it also makes me a better manager, a better boss, and a better Mom.
Often, my team is surprised when I walk into the office early in the morning saying, “I thought of a great idea today,” or “I think I have a solution for that problem we’ve been working on.” Having time to mull over challenges gives me a chance to come up with new ways of thinking about them.
It’s become the norm in the workplace to talk about how busy we are, and working through lunch is a badge of honor. But ask yourself, when do you do your best thinking? Is it while multitasking, or is it during those quiet times when you have a few moments to sort through all the thoughts swirling in your brain? Do yourself a favor. Take a time out, just you and your thoughts. With a little practice, you may emerge ready to re-engage with the rest of the world.
Copyright Liz Behlke 2016