What to do When Your Brain is on Empty

what-to-do-when-your-brain-is-on-emptyTwo nights ago, I was woken up at 1:30am and again at 5:30am. The culprit?  Water was leaking into my apartment, setting off my carbon monoxide detector and potentially taking years off my life with that horrible noise. Is there anything worse than an alarm going off in the middle of the night? Yes, there are millions of things, I’m aware. I do read the newspaper. But somehow, in the moment, an alarm going off in the middle of the night really rates with the worse possible thing to happen in a long time.

Once the beeping stopped and I got another 30 minutes of sleep, I dragged myself out of bed at 7am to wait for the plumber.  In those bleary-eyed moments between 7:00 and 7:02, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either waste a day feeling tired and annoyed, or I could make it my business to use this abnormal schedule and change in my routine to motivate myself and get work done.

The totally and completely amazing part is I did, and I think I learned a few valuable lessons on how to get myself to work, even when the unexpected happens. Now I share that knowledge with you in case you are ever woken by a water-filled carbon monoxide detector going off and scaring the bejezzus out of you:

I got started working right away. I have mornings, like everyone else, where I putz around on the Internet and take my time getting into my work. When I’m this tired though, putzing will only lead to napping. So I made it my business not to putz. I opened my computer and immediately opened a word document I had been editing. Score one for Rebecca.

I worked on projects that required more editing and finessing than content creation. I know my limitations and I need a brain on high to come up with content that will blow people’s minds. But editing and revising after I’ve already written is something I can do when writing brand new content just isn’t working for me.

I spent a lot of time following up on emails and responding to new client requests. Just because I’m not writing doesn’t mean I’m not working. That took me awhile to figure out. When you own your own business, work is not how many hours you bill, but how many hours you bill on top of how many new clients you are able to bring in.  So I spent a good portion of my day on those new client proposals.

When my brain really was begging for a nap, I turned to my Google reader and took it upon myself to read my favorite blogs and leave comments on the ones that moved me. Again, it’s part of my job, and it doesn’t take as much brain power as other parts.

In the end, I battled against the day and won. I got more accomplished than I do on some days I get 8 hours of beauty rest and don’t have to deal with a leaking ceiling.

So my overall lesson? It’s all a mind game. Perhaps if I ran marathons I’d already know that it’s 30% physical and 70% mental, or whatever the saying is. However, I am not mental, so I do not run marathons. But on this particular day I did put my mental state above my physical state and won.

How do you get yourself to work when you are lacking the brain power you usually possess?


1 comment

  1. Great post, Rebecca! When lacking brain power I do pretty much what you described; that is, anything except writing.

    “I have mornings, like everyone else, where I putz around on the Internet and take my time getting into my work.”

    ^ Story of my life!

    I can totally relate to this. I love the feeling of waking up early because I feel like I get a ton more done. I hate the feeling of waking up early because I hate waking up early. Quite the little predicament…

    Oh, and I ran a marathon over the summer. It was pretty damn physical!

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