Have You Learned to Put Down Your Guitar?
In an interview, Bruce Springsteen once said there were two important days in his life…
The first was the day he first picked up a guitar, stood in front of a mirror and liked what he saw.
The second day (you’ve guessed it) was the day he learned to put the guitar down again.
Now, I’m obviously not saying that being a website owner is as sexy as being a rock legend, but I still think we can all do better with our sites by learning to put down our guitars once in a while.
It took me two years to first put mine down.
Okay, I wasn’t a total zealot — I never worked on Christmas Day, for example, like Stephen King admits to doing, even today. Nevertheless, I was pounding the keyboard pretty much every minute the gods sent.
Building a site isn’t easy, of course; it demands a muscular work ethic. (Anybody expecting success — whatever that is — inside a few short months is setting themselves up for a big disappointment.) But if you don’t give yourself an hour or two of me time each day (and a day or two of me time each month), you can hardly expect to be “in the zone” every time you’re sitting at your computer.
Me, I’m a big fan of walking. I love heading to the horizon and not turning back until I’m tired. And I’m sure I achieve much more in a 2 hour walking/6 hour working day than spending 8 hours at my desk.
But I didn’t figure that out until I had learned to put down the guitar.
In the early months, it was feeling overwhelmed at the size of my “To Do” list that kept me working. At any given moment, I was always about 6 months away from completion. Then I experienced a secular epiphany where I basically realized that my site would NEVER be complete, no matter how much midnight oil I burned.
The realization that there was no such thing as a finishing line was the first thing that helped me to lay down my guitar.
The second thing was learning to let go of the fear that my site would somehow crash and burn if I didn’t give it my daily attention. (I still experience a very similar feeling in planes, where gripping the arm rests too tight at take-off keeps the plane from falling out of the sky 🙂
It was actually a short bout of illness (nothing serious) that first forced me to leave me site alone for a week. To my amazement, not only was my site still there when I returned, it had actually gotten along much better without me.
I now have the confidence to put down my guitar regularly — for a couple of hours each day, plus a few weeks each year — and I’m convinced it has not only made me much more productive when I’m at my desk, but it makes being at my desk a lot more enjoyable, too.
Sometimes, I even allow myself the luxury of listening to Springsteen when I’m at my desk. And I’m grateful that he never allowed the notion of laying down your guitar descend into plain old laziness.
With practice, both hard work and idleness can become habits. With discipline, you can learn to steer the perfect course between the two.
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