The joy in nonconforming and creating our own way of doing things

I wasn’t a fan of school.

That’s putting it mildly. I loathed school – I despised the ugly green uniforms we were made to wear in primary school, and the checkered brown ones in high school.

Zero room for self-expression.

(Or comfort, for that matter).

I hated being shoved into a classroom of 30 other students, having to ask to use the bathroom, eating lunch at a set time, and feeling overwhelmed six hours a day, five days a week.

I remember hiding out in the bathroom a LOT.

And pretending I was sick just to escape to the sanctuary of home.

Back then, I didn’t know anything about being a sensitive empathic person. I didn’t know how quickly I soaked up everyone else’s energies and emotions around me.

We weren’t taught things like that.

I felt the same about working in large open-plan offices.

As much as I miss those sporadic kitchen coffee chats, collaborating in person, or getting dressed up, I don’t miss the rules. Not one bit.

I’ve never understood why we need to work five days a week, eight full hours a day.

Or why weekends are only two days long.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not lazy or allergic to hard work – I just believe that productivity is about working with your energy. Not conforming to set hours and depleting it by lunchtime.

I believe productivity should be about output, not the amount of hours you spend glued to a chair, or clocked in.

(But that’s a whole other topic for another day).

Let me tell you how I found myself conforming while working from home.

Fifteen-ish years of office jobs got me into the habit of working set hours and reserving well-being activities, like workouts and walks, for after (or before) the workday.

Today, I changed that pattern.

Ironically, I have my work to thank for that.

I’m researching mindful movement for an article I’m writing, and it got me thinking…

How much attention do we give to HOW we do things?

It’s day #12 of this horrible stomach flu that’s doing the rounds and my workout routine is in complete shambles. So while researching (and feeling slightly better), I had a brainwave to try something different:

A micro (gentle) workout at 10am.

And then, another one at 3pm, very conveniently in the middle of loadshedding.

It’s 16:49pm right now.

Usually by this time, I’m hunching over my laptop trying to squander that last drop of concentration before I pack up for the day and shift gears into figuring out what’s for supper.

Feeling energised after 4pm is something new for me. (I could quite easily get used to this!)

I work from home: I get that not everyone has this kind of flexibility.

And yet…

I believe we have more freedom to change things to our advantage than we realise. We forget we have options, because we’ve become so used to doing things a certain way.

For example, if you work in an office, could you break up your full lunch hour into two or three shorter breaks spread out throughout the day? (Please tell me you’re taking lunch breaks?)

Instead of feeling like you have to be productive for eight full hours (which, in my opinion is completely ridiculous) – could you try working with your energy peaks?

My energy peaks don’t last eight hours.

I usually get in 2-4 solid hours of creative work, or mental focus for high-concentration tasks in a day. But that’s me. We’re all uniquely made up, so you need to figure out what works for you.

I work with my energy and it makes me a much happier human.

Most days.

So here’s the takeaway…

There are so many outdated ways of doing things, but that doesn’t mean we should keep doing them. There’s power in making things work for us, and putting our well-being first. Especially now, as we continue to navigate daily stressors in a very unpredictable world.

So I invite you to try this approach.

I invite you to look at your day, the environment you’re working in, and your energy levels.

What can you seek out to tweak in your favour?

Where can you conserve (and spend) more of your energy?

Because honestly?

We’re not here to just be agreeable, exhausted and depleted by 11am on Tuesday.


We’re not in school anymore.

Melanie Chisnall

Melanie Chisnall

Hi! I'm Melanie, a writer and intuitive with a passion for helping people reconnect to themselves and do more of what lights them up. Real talk, nature & dirty chai fan.

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