A five-letter word that is so loaded, more for some of us than others. For some of us, pausing is similar to stopping and that in itself is overwhelming. But one thing doesn’t mean the other. Of course, stopping means ending something for whatever reasons.
Pausing, however, isn’t a defeat but a respite. It’s acknowledging that breathe, and thought, and being intentional is just about as important as doing the thing you’re doing.
That makes pausing necessary. Oh so necessary.
Today’s guest, Hugo Esteban Rodriguez, knows about pausing. This is a practice he uses every day not only as a writer but as a human with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.
In our interview, he discussed how pausing helps with the little things like putting his keys in the right place or making sure that a pen doesn’t stain his clothes in the wash. These are just simple things but pausing helps him gain control in a world and with a brain that can be filled with chaos.
And what of the writing? Hugo uses the Pomodoro Technique. You may have heard of it. It’s setting the clock for a 25 minute focused session on one task. After that session is over, you receive a 5-minute break or pause and then another session begins, hopefully, to complete a task.
This is a technique I use but I feel I need to do this more often. Pause, Hugo said, allows him to focus and thus he becomes a better writer, a better teacher, a better human.
Now, this is the part when I talk about the idea for this episode, the origin story. I missed two work deadlines. These deadlines were on my schedule for weeks and I had been working toward them in all that time. But, I missed them. One of them by only a couple of hours.
For me, this is a point of shame. I pride myself in the caliber of work that I do and being able to juggle many things at a time. It’s the old reporter in me. Deadlines are what fueled my career for so long. So missing one was devastating.
However, missing deadlines that I knew about was even worse. I was overwhelmed with too many things happening at the same time, too many other deadlines needing my attention, too many things on my plate.
And that feeling of shame and overwhelm broke me down. That’s when I needed to pause. I needed a break from these emotions and to just talk myself down from the negative thoughts that were starting to build. Anyone with depression knows that these thoughts are like storm clouds on the horizon, you know exactly what comes with them.
In my pause, which happened to be a full day, I forgave myself for missing deadlines. I regrouped and reorganized. I watched a movie. I spent time with family. I did a little writing. It felt amazing getting back to basics, if only for a little while. The next day, I could tell the difference. By pausing, I had a better class the next day, I whipped through a stack of grading, and I kept going with more confidence.
Knowing when to pause has been an ongoing journey. Just like one should know the triggers of their mental illness, one should know when to take a beat for themselves. But that knowledge only comes when you’re paying attention or being mindful.
Pausing is a thing. Earlier in this podcast, I challenged you to pause, not to do anything for the duration of this episode. The episode is over, how do you feel? Ready to get back to it? I hope you are and I hope you got something from this episode that will help you with the rest of the week.
A special thanks to our guest writer and educator Hugo Esteban Rodriguez. You can find him online at his Instagam at NoPalySabal. His book “And Other Stories” is out now.
Take care of yourselves