I feel guilty writing this. There are a million other things I could, and can easily justify should be doing. I just spent 10 minutes looking up a couple of good reference sheets for the markdown language so I could try using it to write this post. If I hadn’t, I might be a paragraph further on by now! Then I could finish this relaxing and get back to work sooner. Except, that isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing today.
“I’m not even supposed to be here today”
Today is Christmas Eve. I’m not working at UConn today nor will I be tomorrow. With under a month left there as an employee, what work I am doing there is 100% focused on transition activities, so not checking my email today isn’t the end of the world. The last week I’ve spent 25-30 hours working on an major update to Go Nearly Naked‘s website and was up far too late updating AdWords campaigns. Yesterday morning I had a meeting on an interesting potential project. I got home around 1:30PM and, in my mind, intended to do the couple follow up items and then relax for the rest of the day, or at least take a nap and enjoy a few hours of no commitments.
Instead, I did not get into bed until 12:30AM, having taken enough breaks only to eat, drink, and say “Hello” to my wife. Not because I had to get everything done that I got done by last night, but because I couldn’t seem to not work. The “break” I did take to watch the new episode of Betas? About 1/3 into it I stopped and spent 20 minutes on another task.
It is easy to be constantly, overwhelmingly busy. It is easy to blame it on the “modern world” or any other excuse. It is easy to get caught up in the need to check off the boxes, to be doing something productive, to have a goal and a justification for every activity. At least it is for me, and I suspect that it is for many others as well.
Last night, in a moment of lucid reflection, I told myself I was going to relax a bit today. I’ve been reading a fun book, The Lies of Locke Lamora and hadn’t quite finished it. Before going to sleep I made the plan to wake up when I normally do, have that first shot of espresso, and get back into bed and read. For the sheer enjoyment of the story, for the relaxing quiet time in the morning, for not jumping out of bed and diving right into web design or the any number of hundreds of to-do items I could list here but won’t, both not to bore you and not to stress myself out!
This morning? I woke up. Had a shot of espresso. Got back into bed. And finished the story. My dogs quite happily joined me in being lazy. And the world didn’t end. I didn’t run out of money. The house didn’t burn down.
Make Relaxing a Goal
If you’re driven by a goal oriented mindset, sometimes the thing to do is to embrace it. Play to your strengths rather than fighting your weaknesses. Rather than focus on the things I should have been doing, I convinced myself that my goal and plan for today was to read and relax. I thought about it before bed and knew it was the first thing I would do when I got up so and was looking forward to it.
“I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.”
-Peter Gibbons, Office Space
I’m supposed to put a call to action here at the end, right? Okay, my call to action for today is to not take any action. Take a day off from calling yourself to action. And enjoy.