One Less Thing

November 30, 2012

Earlier this week, I made lunch plans with a friend while we were both out doing errands. We had tentatively set a time to meet, but in the course of her errands, my friend let me know she would be about 30 minutes later than we planned. I found myself with a decision: what to do with 30 minutes of unscheduled time?

I could have done one more errand before meeting her, but that would have added to my overall stress level and possibly made me late for our lunch date. I had books with me after a trip to the library and a small travel sketch kit in my purse. Dare I—gasp!—simply take that 30 minutes for myself?

You bet.

I snagged a table and a cup of coffee at Panera and lost myself in a new book. I made a conscious choice to slow down instead of speed up, to do something relaxing and fun instead of packing my day fuller.

Too often, I don’t make that choice. Instead, I overschedule, or let guilt feelings keep me from taking all but the tiniest scraps of time for myself. I seem to believe if I’m not doing something productive (for pay, for someone else, etc.) I’m wasting time. Possibly because I feel I’m being lazy if I’m not constantly doing.

However, I’m learning, slowly, that when it comes to getting things done, more is not necessarily better. Not if it comes at the cost of health or well-being. And no matter how hard I go at that to-do list, it’s always going to keep getting longer—I will never, never, have everything checked off, so what’s the point of killing myself to accomplish more, more, more?

I found my little reading break, not to mention a delightful lunch with my friend, to be so refreshing that the rest of my day seemed easier—and certainly happier.

Particularly during this time of year, we can find ourselves stretched too thin, adding item after item to our growing to-do lists. I encourage you to do one thing less today than you had planned. Take that time to something you find relaxing, inspiring or energizing.

What will you not do today? What will you do instead?

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  1. Ah.... I can relate and I can picture you sitting and resting in Panera - one of my favorite kick-back spots. Thanks for the reminder to take these pockets of time for myself. But... first I need to hurry off to work. I will take some pockets for myself over the weekend. Have a great weekend!

  2. So glad you were able to seize the moment(s) and make such good use of them!

    I think I've been seizing too many moments and need to put a little more "doing" on my schedule. However, I do think it's important to remember to take breaks and enjoy those unexpected gifts!

  3. Claire--Would love to kick back with you in Panera--we could sketch together. Hope you have a good day at work, and a great weekend with a few pockets of time for you.

  4. Laure--It's so easy to get out of balance either way, isn't it? I'm sure you'll swing back the other way soon, and need to search for those breaks!

  5. Ah, balance. That's the key, isn't it? I seem to swing back and forth between getting nothing done and trying to do too much (but in my case, I'm embarrassed to admit, it's probably more often getting nothing done). But I would have loved to have met you (and Claire) at Panera - also one of my favorite places.

  6. I think you certainly made a good call on that day, choosing to slow down. Sometimes, less can really be more. :)

  7. Charyl--I make those swings, too. Maybe it's human nature to careen back and forth?

    Wish you (and Claire) could have joined us for lunch. We could have had a little sketching party, too.

  8. Michelle--Thank you for stopping by. I am always a little surprised at how much difference a little break can make in my level of energy and happiness. You're right, less really can be more.