Lessons from sleepless nights for more productive workdays

April 6, 2017

There is nothing worse than a night spent tossing and turning, trying to get to sleep. For me, the more trouble I have falling asleep, the more stressed out I become – I start thinking ahead to the next day and how painful every little task will be if I don’t fall asleep in the next 10 minutes and stay asleep until my alarm goes off at 6:30. And of course, this stress about not getting enough sleep keeps me awake all night, and the next thing I know, it’s 4:50 a.m. and I’m resigned to the fact that I’m going to be a walking zombie. 

This happened to me just last night, and I’m writing this blog as a caffeinated zombie because the vicious cycle of trying to catch Z’s and coming up emptyhanded reminds me of some of my awake struggles too, where the more I try to force something, the further away it is. 

  1. The blank page stares you in the face, but the words just aren’t coming to you. When you’re in a writing block, you just can’t find the inspiration to tackle the task at hand. Like trying to force sleep, it’s fruitless – when you try to force yourself to write something you’re just not feeling, you’re not going to produce your best work. Sure, it might be passable, but it’d be much better if you just stepped away from it for a bit and tried to find inspiration elsewhere versus trying to just crank something, anything out. When you can’t sleep, you might just need to try not sleeping to then make you sleepy.

  2. Some nights, your head hits the pillow and you fall right asleep. Other nights, you need to adjust your pillows, blanket or sleep position a few times before finally drifting off. Similarly, sometimes, your pitches are spot on and get you an answer right away. Other times, you need to edit your pitch’s subject line or pivot to a new target, and try again before you succeed and land a media opportunity. To succeed in PR, you need to be flexible and willing to make changes if something’s not working.

  3. When I’m really struggling to sleep, sometimes I need to turn to a sleep aid, like melatonin, for help. Or, if I’ve had a sleepless night, the next day, I’m relying heavily on caffeine to keep me chugging along. In the same way, when I am having a tough time coming up with good pitch ideas or putting together a deck, I turn to my colleagues for brainstorming or answering my questions. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to accomplish sleep or work on your own. I feel lucky to have a team beside me to help out, and the help is reciprocated whenever someone needs my assistance.

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