Why Community Professionals Should Walk Away From Their Desks
A post in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month
I hear it from just about every one of my clients. “I’m burnt out.” Or “I’m so sick of virtual.” Or “I know it’s important, but I just don’t have any time to think on this.”
I’ve felt these same sentiments at one time or another over the last year, which is why I knew I needed something to benefit my mental health and productivity. Want to know what I did to improve things? I chose to walk away from my desk.*
Introducing: Change-It-Up Day
In an effort to change things up, and give myself a different physical work space, I’ve blocked one day/month on my calendar to work away from my desk and home. I started calling this “Change-It-Up Day.” Some days it involves working from a coworking space. Other days it involves taking in a unique experience that I can apply to my work.
I have a few goals with Change-It-Up Day:
Get away from a screen (for a chunk of hours at least). My eyes need the break!
Get re-energized and inspired by doing something outside of my normal day-to-day.
Remind myself that my city (Los Angeles) is full of fun, new, and interesting experiences and communities.
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The First Change-It-Up Day
On the first day, I used the time to go for a walk in Hollywood. This wasn’t just ANY walk. It was a Secret Stairs walk. This book offers walking tours of public, and sometimes hidden, secret stairways throughout Los Angeles. This particular walk took me through a hillside of about 30 homes, behind the Hollywood Bowl, that are uniquely built…as in, you can’t drive your car up to them. Hard to believe homes like this even exist in this city! Each home has a private garage at the bottom of the hill (and it’s no small hill). During this walk, I was both taking in the sights and thinking through some situations my clients are in. I came home refreshed and full of new ideas for my clients, all because I changed up my work setting that day.
The Second Change-It-Up Day
The second day involved a visit to the new Academy of Motion Pictures Museum. I was most moved by the Wizard of Oz exhibit, which featured aspects of the many facets of moviemaking: “screenwriting, casting, hair and makeup, costumes, production design, special effects, sound, music, cinematography, editing, and publicity, not to mention the work of actors, directors, producers, and executives.” This exhibit got me thinking about the many facets of a community team, and beyond that, the many teams in a company that work with the community team. I came home ready to offer some workflow options to a client who was wondering how to best work with other teams at her company.
Affordable Change-It-Up Day Ideas
Work from home? Do you know someone else near you who also works from home? Arrange a day to invite that person to work from your home, sharing the living room, dining room, or outdoor space. And then next month, go to that person’s home. In short, you’re creating your own coworking environment without all the costs of going to a coworking space.
Grab a notebook and pen and take yourself to your favorite hike or park. Find a place where you can sit and reflect on a work issue, and take note of your thoughts and any action steps.
Go for a drive. Turn on a relevant podcast, or a reflective playlist, and see where the road (and your mind) takes you.
Change-It-Up Day is not a replacement for seeking serious mental health help, nor will it make all of your worries go away. It IS a welcome and necessary break that, so far, has already proven to feed my brain and provoke my curiosity. That’s exactly what I need these days.
What do YOU need?
Message me if you’re planning your own Change-It-Up Day or if you’d ever like to join me on one in LA!
*I do realize that I have the privilege to do this, not only because I’m running my own business, but also because of many other factors. I know that not everyone will have the permission or ability for their own Change-It-Up Day, but my hope is that this concept will inspire you to think about what you CAN ask for or achieve to give yourself temporary new surroundings while you work.
How Do Other Community Professionals Give Themselves A Break?
I asked this very question, and here are some of the responses: