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I learned to keep a notepad on my nightstand.
Have you ever woken in a panic, remembering that one task you forgot to do today? Or, on a more positive note, a brilliant idea of how to solve that one nagging problem in your project plan/executive presentation/direct report dilemma? That was me nightly. For some reason, sleep helped me gather my thoughts on everything and I learned that if I didn’t write it down immediately, I forgot once my head hit the pillow.
As a middle manager, I couldn’t find enough real thinking time during the day. There’s a reality to the life of a middle manager that can’t be denied – you really are in the middle. There’s top pressure, bottom pressure, middle pressure- the need to succeed so that my team can succeed. I jump from executive meetings to 1:1’s with my directs to project management calls, and then still have some actual work to do myself. And in the middle of that – we have to think strategically, manage processes, and develop our people.
Half of what my brain comes up with during REM is nonsense – or I can’t read my own handwriting. The other half is brilliant, thought-provoking, remarkably creative. I firmly believe that’s because sleeping became my time to think, even if on a gut level.
Looking back on the middle of the night wake-up calls from my brain, there were some pro’s and con’s.
- Good Ideas – brilliance even!
- Crummy sleep
- Waking my cat, my partner, and myself
A more useful way of doing things (with less of the downside) has been dumping my ideas, to do’s, and problems on my notepad throughout the day and then clearing my mind (it took practice!) of anxieties, fears, and lists.
I sleep better, am working better, and there’s more room on my nightstand.