Some Bellwether colleagues recently shared this article about women in career and family. While I don’t parent, I still found the article’s reminders super useful. A few quotes from the piece about work, fulfillment, and how we manage our time:
‘I don’t have time’ often means ‘It’s not a priority.’ Time is a choice.
If I keep telling myself I don’t have time for something and keep pushing it onto next week’s to-do list, I should examine whether it’s truly necessary or important to do. Or maybe I should make it a goal for the year instead of the week. The main category of thing that often gets pushed back repeatedly in my personal life: tasks relating to finances.
We take breaks all the time at work. Instead of falling down unproductive, internet rabbit holes, make a real break for lunch with a colleague or get a coffee together.
I love this line because it acknowledges that even people who sit at their desks all day and eat lunch at their desks aren’t necessarily being “productive” every minute. I sometimes compare myself to those people and worry that I should feel guilty taking a true, one-hour lunch break outside. But for one, going outside is good for my health and focus, and two, those people are also taking breaks even if they never leave their seats. They might be texting a friend or looking at Facebook.
When we get home we are tired. We think we want to do nothing. But you can never do ‘nothing.’ You’ll end up doing something you would not choose to do if you were being more mindful. When we are in do-nothing mode we tend to fill our time with leisure activities that are not particularly restorative. Like surfing the web or watching bad TV.
I seriously need to set limits on my use of Instagram. It’s fine to zone out, but if I’m thoughtful about how I want to zone out, I might end up crafting or calling a friend.
If you are making life harder because of a deeply held value, great. If you cook from scratch every night because it is important to you personally, then do it. If you are doing it because you assume it’s what a ‘good’ mother does, rethink it. Also: cleaning after the kids go to sleep. Why do the toys have to be picked up? They’re just coming out again in the morning, and you will never get that time back. That is time you could use to relax. You could read or hang out with your partner. There is no 11 p.m. home inspection where someone is going to come around and give you points if the toys are picked up. If you deeply believe that that is the only way you can go to sleep, then do it, but if you’ve absorbed this story that a house must be picked up at the end of the day, let it go.
Okay, again, I don’t have kids, but I still relate to this. How do I want to spend the final moments of my waking day? I often tidy up, and that’s fine, but it sets a somewhat anxious tone before I fall asleep. This is a larger conversation for me about letting go of perfect cleanliness, which for me correlates to brain clarity and focus. Sometimes I can’t sit down to write if there are dishes in the sink in another room. But I aspire to be able to let that go.