What If You Stopped Squeezing Things In?

my daughter's art classI’m writing this newsletter from the couch at my daughter’s art class (that’s my view of her from between the bookshelves). This is her second year of regular Thursday afternoon art lessons. And for the first several classes, here’s what I would do—park the car, walk her in, wait a few minutes while the drop off rush died down, and then go run errands. As many errands as possible, to be exact. More than once, I’d have to call my husband to go pick her up as I was sitting in traffic, trying to make my way back in time.

Silly, really. I may have gotten a couple things ‘out of the way,’ but at a pretty high price—the rushed, breathless, if-I-just-had-5-more-minutes feeling has a way of tainting at least the next couple of hours.

Now I stay put. I cozy up on the couches set up for parents and enjoy a little time to write or read. I can’t see my daughter, and she can’t see me, but we both know the other is nearby. The class is very old school—there’s always classical or jazz playing in the background, and the kids really go into the zone of concentration. Also, there’s no wifi.

And now, Thursday afternoons are one of the highlights of my work week. In fact, today is the last class until January and I’m in a little bit of mourning for the Thursday afternoons in December when I won’t be perched right here.

I know how tempting it is to squeeze things in to whatever little cracks you can find in your schedule. I really do. I’ve got two kids and starting-to-be-aging family members and couple of different tracks to my work life; I get the logistical complexities that can make a week feel like it’s gone before it even gets here. The problem is, squeezing stuff in really doesn’t help.

First, looking for those little cracks operates on the assumption that tiny slivers are all you’ve got. I know we’re all busy, but we do each get the same 168 hours every week. That’s no mere morsel—that’s a heaping helping.

Second, rushing is based on fear, and fear is ultimately destructive. Meaning, the stuff you get done in those harried moments won’t end up furthering your cause. You’ll either be so wiped out by the effort you won’t even notice any benefits you may generate. Or you could even be making more work for yourself because you’re missing important details.

What about you? Are you a squeezer-inner or an easy-does-it-er? What parts of your week do you savor because they invite you (or perhaps force you) to slow down? I’d love to hear about in the comments below.

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7 thoughts on “What If You Stopped Squeezing Things In?

  1. My problem is I get too sucked in to down time… start reading a book on the bus and don’t want to put it down when I get home, so have trouble focusing on family. Plan to watch one show while I fold the laundry, and end up binge watching everything in my Hulu account. See a pile of dirty dishes in the sink I know I could tackle in half an hour, and end up reading and falling asleep on the couch. I go for a walk in the morning, and then can’t reconnect with my family after. Instead of it making me feel energized, I just feel angry! Maybe this means overall I’m not getting enough down time.

    1. Hi wee1. Glad you posted. It sounds to me, just from this little bit you shared, that there might be some thoughts in the background that something you want isn’t available. Maybe you’re right, you do need more downtime and taking a whole day or a few days to get out of your regular routine and just tend to your whims is what you need. Or maybe getting a little support from an objective party could help you suss out what those thoughts are so you can start to work with them a little more skillfully and get to the point where you don’t feel like you can’t really have what you want-I think that’s where the anger is coming from. I have felt it myself! So I can totally relate. And I can tell you it is changeable. If you’d ever like to talk more about, email me. 🙂

  2. my one hour after waking up where I get to meditate in bed, practice yoga, shower, and drink a freshly made cup of coffee are moments I savor each day. i just moved to a new place and haven’t been able to find those moments as often as I used to, but when i do they are miraculous and for that i’m grateful! thank for your post, kate!

    1. Love this Nicole. Yes, even when it’s not a whole hour, it still totally counts. Best of luck establishing your new routines in your new place! That’s exciting.

  3. A few years ago I decided I would never run to cross a street (I live in NYC as you know Kate). If a light is about to turn, I see as a divine moment I’m allowed to stop, notice the sky, check in. Then soon enough the light changes and I’m on my way.

    1. I love this Cena! And no easy feat in NYC to be OK with having to stand still! 🙂 Good one for those of us who drive a lot too. A red light is a great reminder to take a deep breath and just be.

  4. Hi Kate,

    This was perfect timing. I had a yoga gratitude class today and before hand I was trying to get things done that could have been done at a later day and time. The class brought me back to my goal as did your article!

    Love ya,
    Brenda

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