Even in those brief moments when idleness should be acceptable, we are driven to engage in some productive endeavor -- or at least act as though we are. We resist the opportunity to just be. The question is, why?
I recently sat next to a successful Hollywood executive over dinner. He let it slip that he was oddly looking forward to the following day. "Why?" I inquired, imagining an impressive gathering of executives discussing a potential multi-million dollar deal. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Time is a perishable resource, and the challenges of time-management run deep. But it's important to understand these challenges in order to understand the tools needed to help us spend time on what really matters to us.
The good news is that stillness is within us. We do not need a quiet garden, secluded beach or a zen room with candles flickering before us in order to find it. The amazing thing about our personal power is that we can be still, wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
Contrary to popular belief, busy is not good in and of itself. Busy is only good from both professional and personal standpoints if you're working productively to achieve a meaningful goal, and one which justifies the time, effort and energy put towards this task.
In my work as a research psychologist currently studying women in the workplace, I hear women describe this sort of near-obsessive commitment to work with increasing frequency. For many, it's how they develop feelings of self worth. This can be both empowering and dangerous.
How could it ever be right to tell anyone, that you don't owe your success to sheer grind, but actually quite the opposite? I say it could. The long hours you spend in the office won't automatically lead to that shiny success dream you always had.
Refuse to put your mental, emotional and physical health last from here on out. After all, how can you be completely happy in any area of your life when you're not feeling robust, healthy and fully alive?
We live in a one-size-fits-all educational culture that evaluates the worth of students through their test scores, GPAs, and college acceptance letters. It is this dominant narrative, and the system it supports, that needs to change.
Often, our best attempts at increasing our wellness don't come from putting large amounts of time or effort into our self-care. Rather, they come from approaching our efforts with a sense of balance and an acceptance for what's possible and what's not possible within the realities of our busy life.
I argue that delegation is best because it allows the servicemen to do what they are good at so one can focus on what they themselves are good at. But are we really doing what we are good at, or are we just spending more time distracting ourselves with less-important tasks?
It's worth considering how we can optimize our self-care efforts. Take some time to reflect on how much time feels like enough time and what mix of activities feels like it best meets the range of your needs.
I wish we could start a cultural movement to reclaim the power of the break. For starters, it might help to recognize that by definition, a break is supposed to happen between things, just as a page break is inserted right within a book's content.
My life may seem glamorous with its endless routine of carpools, play dates, and half-asleep coffee breaks at the neighborhood latte joint, but to be able to maintain an outward appearance of order I have developed a few shortcuts.