Call it gathering your thoughts or letting the dust settle, but everyone needs to regroup on a regular basis. Sometimes it is just after a certain number of days going full steam ahead. Sometimes it is at the end of a project. Other times it is because of interruptions out of our control. But it needs to be done.
From my experience, regrouping includes three things:
- cleaning and organizing
The rest is usually a combination of physical and mental rest. This doesn’t mean so much not doing anything so much as engaging in activities that don’t involve working toward outcomes or on a schedule. It is more about a break from project activity and deadlines. The rest of a different relaxing activity can work out the kinks and/or relax the mind and body.
One common resting activity for me is a walk with my husband. Another is playing an instrument. It is not unusual for something that might be part of a project at one point to qualify as resting activity later, such as puttering in the garden is for me.
Cleaning and organizing
Cleaning and organizing go hand in hand, as you probably know. But let me encourage you anyway. You may be tempted to just push ahead into the next project, but taking a day to put away supplies from the previous project and clear your work space will help you think more clearly about the next project.
You will be able to keep track of the next project more easily because you won’t be getting pieces mixed up with the last project. You will be able to design and problem solve more easily because you aren’t distracted by things that have nothing to do with what you are currently trying to get done.
This doesn’t mean that things have to be perfectly in order. We all have different workspace constraints or workflows. Still, even though creativity is often messy, every good painting begins with a blank canvas.
I find that cleaning up also sets my mind free from the focus of the previous project. As I put things away, I get reminded of my available supplies and even other projects that I might have forgotten about.
What should you evaluate? Start broadly. Think about your overall priorities. Do you need more time to rest before you begin another dedicated project? Should you make any notes from the last project? Do you need to connect with people more?
I find that priorities are also affected by opportunity and other scheduling. If the weather is stormy and cold, the garden that might have been a priority on a sunny day cannot be that particular day. If you have a grandchild’s birthday coming up, that may push other priorities aside for a couple of days.
After you have chosen what project to focus on for now, it is good to give yourself time to freely brainstorm about it. Don’t feel rushed into making decisions before it has percolated enough. Maybe you even need to have another rest time at this point. Rest often releases the brain to work through ideas in ways it can’t when we are trying hard to decide something.
Take time to enjoy
We should always take an extra moment and enjoy that feeling of satisfaction at getting something done. It can be easy to give in to a sense of urgency and feel like we are always behind. The fact is, there will always be more to do. Don’t let that keep you from enjoying the present accomplishments.
There is always something to find to enjoy, even if there is unusual stress in life for you in a given time period. Enjoy the soft fur behind your dog’s ears. Or savor each bite of you homemade pancake. Especially if it has chocolate chips in it!
Even if something truly terrible has happened, you can enjoy the comforting hug of someone or the song of a local bird. Just as there will always be something to choose to enjoy, there will always be something to tempt you to be anxious.
You get to decide where to tune your attention. Like with hiking, watch where you are going at the same time as you marvel at the wonders of life. If you trip on a rock or slip in the mud, it does no good to just give up the rest of the hike and stand there glaring at the rock or mud. Instead, you would take a breath and regroup, because you have places to go and things to do.