I’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.