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Short Winter Task: Let’s Not Forget The Most Important Part

We’ve been talking about planting business seeds to have a healthy harvest later this year (things like soliciting testimonials, and making sure clients have no regrets after they hire you).

But I’m kinda embarrassed –

I almost forgot about the most important part! 

See, spend any time reading about gardening, and you’ll run across the phrase “feed the soil, not the plants.”

What does that mean?  Well, plants dig into the soil to take nutrients out of it.  Which is good, it’s what they’re supposed to do.  But if you keep planting on the same ground over and over, pretty soon the soil gets depleted. 

So what’s a farmer to do?  Add stuff back into the soil.  This is why farmers do things like add compost to their rows, or weave in special crops like peas and clover that take nitrogen out of the air and put it back into the ground.  (Seriously, plants are magic when you think about them.)

The best question a farmer can ask is – what am I taking out, and what’s the best way to replenish it?

Guess what?  We have to ask the same question.

Long business seasons draw on your creativity for nourishment.  Every time you take photos, create offers, write posts – you’re drawing ideas and energy out of your ground.  Which is great, it’s what you’re supposed to do.  But if all you do is work work work, your creative soil – so to speak – is going to become depleted.  It’s an un-fun place to be, but it’s also unsurprising – and we can plan for it!

Let’s be responsible caretakers and put things on our calendar now that will nourish us when our creativity is in highest demand.  We’ll ask our question:

In the year ahead, what will we be ‘taking out,’ and what’s the best way we can plan to replenish it?

Think back to past years.  What tends to feel the most depleted during a busy season, and what can you add to your calendar to make sure that nourishment is being replenished?  Consider things like –

  • If you’re shooting a lot, maybe you need to add beautiful visual input for inspirational fuel.  Can you plan for a twice-a-month museum crawl or hike or gorgeous movie marathon, or something else that inspires you to see beauty in new ways? 
  • Maybe you don’t run out of visual inspiration, but you overtax your capacity to serve others.  Can you plan in a small-but-glorious, oh-so-exciting personal project on a weekday in September, to ward off burnout and reconnect with what you love?  (If that sounds bonkers to do right in the middle of a busy month, you might need to read The Overachiever’s Guide To Taking A Break – I don’t make up the science of productivity, I just report it, folks.)
  • Or maybe you just need protected “off” time that doesn’t turn into get-sucked-into-social-media time.  What habits or rituals can you plant in that, like clover, keeps a low profile but nourishes you every week?

It’s okay if your nourishment style changes by season.  Here’s an example:

Screen time of any sort eventually depletes me.  So I have to set aside specific time to play with paper instead.  Last fall, I designated the time slot 9-10:30pm on Monday through Thursday to read actual books, practice calligraphy, and make beautiful things to send people in the mail.  This was wind-down time that ensured I didn’t just deplete myself with more screen time (social media, Netflix). 

When winter came though, I found that keeping that slot open didn’t work anymore.  So instead, in my weekly planner I’ve added a list called “Rewards” and I get to check them off like to-do list items.  I put in things like writing a letter, lunch dates, hiking in new spots, or going to book club.  I make sure I have four every week.  Interestingly, this makes my entire to-do list seem more fun and it ensures I actually do it instead of just think about it. 

Three months from now, that might not work anymore.  It might start feeling like a chore.  So I’ll move on to something else.  The point is – figure out what you need, figure out a way to work it in.  When that stops working, that’s not “bad,” it’s just a change of season, so go find what works for this one.

Your short winter task today: 

Look at the calendar ahead, circle the weeks that tend to be busiest, and ask yourself – what is going to be depleted, and when and how will I replenish it?

 

P.S. This post was originally an email I sent out – only about half of my content is on the blog.  Want to see stuff like this about once a week?  Hop on the list:

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