This is a guest post from Aaron Morris aka Sir Scrapalot, who shares tips for scrapbooking productivity with Simple Scrapper readers once a month!
Six months ago, I was fighting the Energy Eater. If you had asked me what I did in my free time, I would have told you that my hobby was Sir Scrapalot Designs – creating products, writing for my blog, scrapbooking, and generally being part of the scrapbooking community. I was happy, I enjoyed what I did, and enjoyed spending most of my free time (aside from family time) working on Sir Scrapalot stuff. As time wore on, however, I started to get tired. Real life picked up, school was in full swing, and the holidays were rapidly approaching. I was quickly getting overwhelmed and not enjoying anything I did. I was up against the Energy Eater, but I didn’t know it. At the urging of my friends and family, I took the last two weeks of the year off for some “downtime.” I thought I would catch my breath before I got moving again. What I didn’t expect was what I would learn about myself and the Energy Eater.
Downtime is a funny word, it implies that something isn’t working, that nothing productive is happening. My downtime was anything but that. I took my family on some cool outings, I spent some time with friends, I read more than my Google Reader, I cooked more adventurous meals, I downloaded a DJ program and created a few remixes for myself, I played video games, I researched new teaching methods…and this is just the tip of the iceberg. As the end to my “downtime” neared, I started to realize all the things that I had forgotten were my hobbies – cooking, music, video games, reading, teaching – and how much I would miss them when I got back into Sir Scrapalot Designs.
That was the major a-ha moment. Why on earth was I thinking “Well, I enjoy doing these things, too bad this other hobby takes up all my time?” (Insert car break screech here). How did I let Sir Scrapalot Designs become my Energy Eater? If I wanted to have more time to do those things, well then that was up to me. I’m the CEO, big boss, head cheese, man-in-charge of Sir Scrapalot Designs, I made the rules. From that moment on, the rules changed. I had to fight the Energy Eater, and I had to win. It’s not an easy fight to win, though. In fact, every day the Energy Eater and I engage in the age old “good vs. evil” battle with the hopes of coming out on top. I admit, that definitely makes it sound like I’ve played a few too many video games in the last month, but you get my drift.
The lesson to take away from my story is this: anything can become your Energy Eater. Sometimes it’s your job, or a hobby, or your friends, or reality television – the Energy Eater has the uncanny ability to take many forms, and change at the drop of a hat. As the “hero” it’s your job to make sure you are getting to all the things you want to, that you are living a balanced life, and that you are doing things that make you happy – that you are fighting the Energy Eater. While the fight may be difficult, the rewards are plentiful.
So join me, let’s fight the Energy Eater this year together! What types of things do you do to keep certain tasks from taking over your life?
This rings all too true for me as well. During my 3 week break from Simple Scrapper at the end of 2010, I also remembered all the other things I used to do before I had a blog. I cooked more, watched movies, read books and even picked up some long-forgotten knitting.
I definitely showed me that Simple Scrapper had become my Energy Eater and that I needed to find more balance to have a happier and healthier life. I looked for ways to streamline and still bring you everything you’ve come to enjoy. I looked for ways to continue building my business that would also serve as a creative outlet – like Simple Pages / Simple Projects.
My biggest advice is to be OK with taking breaks, saying no or reformulating the plan to make it better work for you.
Great post! I feel like my computer period has become my Energy Eater. But at the same time – it has my family/friends, my hobbies, and many of my interests in it. Just about everything but my immediate family.
So far this year I have gotten myself a planning calendar to help plan out my computer activities – that has helped quite a bit! Next up is using a timer to keep myself focused on the task at hand for only that time period. I think that is going to help take my productivity to another level. We’ll see!
Thanks for reminding me that ‘downtime’ doesn’t mean I just get to sit around and veg out. It also means I should get out of the house and enjoy the world a little more! And I do love the idea of actually taking a break from my computer! Like 1 day a week that I will not get on this laptop. That might be kind of nice! 🙂
Good luck in the battle of the Energy Eater this year!
This is a great post and good to see I’m not alone. I have been quite obsessive over hobbies in the past but my energy eater at the moment is actually quite different but the result is the same. I have so many projects that I’d just love to do, but get so frustrated that other things always get in the way and then I can’t complete them as something else becomes a priority. So, in the end I allow myself to be distracted, so that I can’t “set myself up to fail”. I know the distractions are such a waste of time and energy and I hate it but still haven’t managed to face up to my demons and beat this energy eater. But I’m working on it ……
This is such a great post! I think that a lot of us who have had hobbies turn into ‘work’ would relate to this. I am trying to schedule my work hours (and make myself stick to that schedule!) while multi-tasking other stuff as much as possible ie listening to podcasts while I do housework, sketching with the kids as they do their homework etc. It’s tough to get the balance right, but I’m working on it!