I’m saying this as I post this bit of advice well into the night. You would think I would take the advice I write. Nah, not so much. But I’m working on it!
It’s nearly 11 at night and I should be in bed by now but here I am, writing a post at the end of a long, hectic day. My body is physically exhausted from the workouts and the heaps of cleaning (Friday is cleaning day) and my mind is drained from college work, writing, and various other mental challenges. Does that mean I take a knee and go to bed? Nope. Should I? Arguably yes. But what’s the argument?
The argument here is that I don’t know when to stop. I’m partial to take the side of no, I really don’t. But if I argued that, I’d be lying. I do know when to stop. Even if often seems like I don’t.
I say this with a strong amount of certainty because I have a checklist I go through. When night rolls in, or when I’ve been working too long, I’ll run through my checklist to make sure I’m doing what I’m doing for the right reasons.
- Am I doing this just to do this?
Here’s the thing, sometimes I start doing more stuff at night because I think I need to. My to-do list is long, often unnecessarily so. When fatigue starts to settle in, I’ll look at my to-do list and see if there are things I can move to tomorrow, things I haven’t crossed off, or things that shouldn’t be there in the first place (like breathing or sleeping).
Unfortunately, I do NOT always catch myself before I’m deep into some cleaning expedition or project.
These projects occur more often than I would care to admit and occur mainly when I’m already overtired. Easy to spot, when I see that I’m doing things just to do them. It’s important to note that when I notice this, I don’t keep cleaning. I stop. And, more importantly, I give myself permission to stop.
Buzz the Bee tip no. 4: It’s OKAY to stop.
I know better by now. If I don’t quick clean up the mess, tell myself I’m allowed to stop and CAN do it tomorrow, I’ll be up until 3 a.m and crying over unorganized highlighters (it doesn’t have to make sense at 3 a.m).
2. Is Buzz flying around?
This is an important one to catch, and tricky too.
Sometimes when hands flutter around, nervously cleaning, it’s to prove that we are good enough. The negative thoughts that have accumulated throughout the day are strongest at night. They have had time to fester, to grow, and to impact us. Are you doing this to prove someone wrong? To prove to yourself that you can do something productive?
Remember, you are not measured by the physical work you accomplish. An extra load of laundry and polishing every surface in the house won’t make you worth more.
If Buzz is flying around, put him to bed! To do this, get your own body in between the sheets.
3. Have I passed exhausted an hour ago?
If you’re already tired, stop. Put everything down and go to bed. Working when you’re tired does NOT accomplish everything that you think it does. You are half as productive and twice as likely to mess up and become agitated. Then, when you do go to bed, your sleep will be disrupted something fierce because of the negative energy.
Do a personal body check to see if you passed tired long ago. Are your eyelids sliding off your face? Is your speech impaired? Are you crying and refuse to think you’re tired? (Hint: if you would put a kid who is looking and acting like you to bed, put yourself to bed.)
4. Why am I doing this?
Listen, sometimes it is necessary to stay up late.
I won’t lie to you and say that you should always abandon what you’re doing. What am I doing right now? Writing this post. What do I want to be doing? Sleeping. However, I promised myself I would write on Tuesdays through Saturdays on this site and I intend to fulfill my personal promise and goal. This is an instance where yes, it is acceptable to push a little bit beyond tired to finish something.
It pays to know yourself.
This is the only key to figuring out if you should be up working or snuggled in bed. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t honestly answer those questions, especially not the last one. If it’s four a.m and I’ve worked through the night on the last three chapters of a novel then I know it’s okay. I’ve worked towards a goal of mine, fed my future, and accomplished a lot of work without disturbing my creative flow.
So, in short, remember these questions. Next time you’re faced with work or bed, ask yourself them. Before and after it all, though, learn about yourself.
Know yourself and know when you need to stop.