You spin my head right round, right round

I'm feeling dizzy

Oh Flo Rider, ye of the overt sexual references! How it pains me to say that your poetic stylings are the most apt description of where my head’s at right now!

For nearly two weeks, I have had a constant dizziness underpinning everything. I’m talking room spinning, knee buckling, head swirling dizziness. And it’s as though my head is hungover – I’ve felt fuzzy, nauseous and completely unable to concentrate on anything.

Eventually, I got my butt to the doctor, and was diagnosed with benign positional vertigo. Which is a longwinded way of saying that I’m dizzy, but it’ll pass. (Which is good, ‘cos while I was consulting Dr Google, I came across a bunch of people who live with dizziness and vertigo permanently. Which is a truly horrifying prospect).

Anyway, during this time of feeling less-than-stellar, I’ve had to manage my energies really carefully. I still have deadlines and client work and Things That Must Be Done, yet have only had small windows during the day where I’ve felt able to actually accomplish them. Able to actually look at a computer screen.

And the result has actually been quite eye-opening. I still got most of the same stuff done as I do normally. Which means that normally, I’ve been wasting a whole lotta time…

Here are 6 things I’ve learned.

1. When you don’t have a lot of time, you get shit done faster.
Call it the law of ‘why bother starting uni assignments early, when you’ll still be doing them at the last minute anyway’. Or you know, get all scientific and call it Parkinson’s law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I worked smarter.

2. Priorities are key.
When you’ve got limited capacity, you have to make tough choices about where to focus your energy. I kept making decisions that gave me the best bang for my limited buck. And it paid off. Ordinarily, I find it all too easy to get caught up in the minutiae. Instead I kept asking myself this question: what is the single, most elegant thing I can do today to take me forwards with the most momentum? (Hat tip to the lovely Jia Ni Teo for sharing this insightful question with me!)

3. Getting off social media makes me oh-so-much more productive.
Because I knew I didn’t have time to procrastinate on Facebook, I didn’t. I’m definitely going to look into social media management apps to help me manage my time moving forwards.

4. Perfection is the enemy of done.
Ordinarily, I proofread things a dozen times. Even things that don’t really matter. I write and rewrite and check and recheck. But all of a sudden, I didn’t have the time or energy for that. And of course, everything was fine. Nobody died. Or cared. And I got stuff done a lot faster. Sometimes, trying to get things perfectly just ends up cramping our productivity and stifling our flow. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

5. Sometimes pushing through is not the answer.
I’ve always been one to make myself keep pushing in order to Finish and/or Achieve and/or Win. Once, when I was a kid, I decided I was going to rollerblade all the way from the holiday house we were staying at to the Lighthouse 2 kms away. For no reason, other than just to do it. After a few minutes, my feet started burning. But I’d said I was going to do it, so I finished. When I finally got home and collapsed on the lawn, I pulled off the rollerblade boots to find that I had rubbed my feet so raw that they were blistered and bleeding ALL OVER. I had mistaken that burning as being the type of pain I should push through. Instead, it was the type of pain that should have made me stop and reassess and perhaps withdraw. I couldn’t swim in the ocean for a three days after that incident, because the salt water hurt my half-flayed feet so badly.

With this little excursion into crazy-pants dizziness, pushing through just made me feel worse. I figured out pretty quickly that it wasn’t worth it. There was no badge of honour to be achieved by forcing my way through it. Better to just admit – as much as it pains me – that sometimes, we can’t perform at our peak (or indeed, anywhere near our peak). Sometimes we need to pull out, sit down, bench ourselves. Sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack and just chill the frick out.

And all of that’s okay.

6. You have to let yourself rest.
Weirdo viral things like this are a brick thrown by the Universe saying ‘Bloody well go to bed at a decent hour and stop living on caffeine and sugar. Please.’ I ignored the whispers from my body for too long, so it took me down to make sure I listened. Message from the future: heed the whispers to avoid the great, walloping bricks. Even though I felt horribly lazy and slothful and panicky (oh my God, I’ll never catch up on all my work) by just lying down and resting, that is exactly what needed to be done. Otherwise I’d just dig myself further into my hole. Sometimes you can’t make yourself better by doing stuff, you just have to let go, rest, and just be.

How do you cope with work / life / the Universe when you are less than your best? Share your wisdom in the comments!