• Elana Duffy

Variety: Not just the spice of your life, but the saver of your sanity



How many times a week do you find yourself saying, jokingly or otherwise, “I need to get out more”? For me, there are weeks where it’s daily. This week, for a variety of reasons, it’s nearly constant. From reuniting with old friends to planning hikes to diving in oceans and climbing mountains, it always feels like there isn’t enough time in the day (or the week, or the year) to both do work you hopefully love to do as well as everything else there is to see and do in the world. And I have redoubled my intention to take the time and do it. Variety is important, not just between work and play, but between projects and people and even what we have for lunch every day. It can mean the difference between good and great both in your life and in your products. Here are a few ways that you can add variety to enhance your business and your overall well-being: Get up. Just one more email, just one more call, just one more something can take over our time and suck up all of our energy and leave us little time for a change of scenery. But why are we doing these things in the same place? If you don’t need to be in front of a screen for that conference call, put in some headphones and go to a different place in the building or better yet, go outside for a walk while talking to your colleagues. Taking a different route or moving to a different place means that you need to concentrate just a little bit more. This little bit of change forces your brain to function differently overall, and you may come up with your best ideas yet all because you stood up from your desk. Get vacation (even for only a few hours). I would not have kept my sanity this last week without taking a few hours to rock climb. There is something about staring at a potential path, challenging yourself, and limiting your immediate view to what is in front of and above you that forces me to forget whatever else is in my mind. For an hour or two that day, it’s a complete break that allows me to refocus my mind and my energy. Some people get that from running, some from reading a novel, some from movies. Find what it is that lets you take a mini-vacation at least once a week, a time that doesn’t allow you to check your phone or your laptop and throws you into another world. You might be surprised at how fresh things look when you’ve stepped away completely even for a short time, and how much more efficient you can become with just a quick break. The more of these you can take, the less stress you will feel since there is no prep and no catch-up like there is with a longer vacation, but many of the same long-term benefits. Get help. You know when your eyes start seeing the same things over and over on a spreadsheet or on the eighth edit of an annual report. If your eyes start to glaze over even at the thought of a particular task, it’s time to call in some support. Short term or long term, per project or per department, a fresh pair of eyes will spot mistakes you could not and free you up to challenge your mind on another task. It will also assist you in gaining a few minutes or even a few hours back into your week, precious time that is well worth the investment of bringing on someone to help your team. Freelance editors, writers, and even accounting professionals tend to be expert at these tasks of checking that which has become routine for you, and are often more cost-effective than finding a new employee. Get (a new) perspective. Along the lines of temporary and freelance help is the opportunity to find a complete new perspective. At Present Tense, we find that we are often called in for perspective more than anything else. When you built your company, or have at least been there awhile, it can sometimes be hard to look at it from the outside and see what a potential customer is seeing. When you call in someone for anything from writing a weekly blog or article to a total rebranding concept, this perspective is coming from someone who speaks in the voice of a potential consumer and is looking at your business in a light you likely can’t see from your seat. We have even seen this new perspective help our authors who are looking to write a book, even using concepts they’ve kicked around for years. A simple change in your usual language might be all you need to jumpstart your ideas, but to do so you need a new perspective. Variety is not just a spice in life. It is more than a seasoning; it is so much the key to what we need from ourselves and from each other that it should be the base of what we do. It can break you from a rut, catch your errors, and even keep you healthy. Finding ways to challenge your mind to think even slightly differently could mean the world. So try something new today. Your company, your family, and your brain will thank you later. Elana Duffy is co-founder and COO of Present Tense LLC, a communications company dedicated to helping people express their ideas through better business storytelling. Lana is also a veteran of the US Army, a masters of engineering graduate, and a freelance writer in NYC, along with being the CEO and co-founder of Pathfinder, a "Yelp for Veteran resources". She is the co-author of the first in the Present Tense “singles” short ebook series, 10/10, for sale on Amazon and other major retailers.

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