Many of you know from my New Year’s Resolution post (or from Facebook) that one of my goals in 2013 is to take Sunday’s off. Like, completely off. No emails, no social networking, no editing, no writing.
Basically, nothing work related.
I’ve been surprised by the comments and emails I’ve gotten on the subject. Ranging from, “I need to do this!” to “How will you live without the internet for a whole day?!” it seems everybody is curious about this experiment. Which is telling in and of itself. When did we get to a place where having ONE day off a week is an anomaly? When did we become so OVER-connected that it’s strange to take a day for family, reading, watching movies, taking walks, and napping?
And I’m not judging! Because I’m just as guilty as anyone else. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to take Sundays off is because I literally could not remember the last day I hadn’t worked in some capacity. If I wasn’t writing, I was answering emails. If I wasn’t answering emails, I was posting on Facebook and/or Twitter, and not always because I wanted to. A lot of the time, it was this feeling that I would lose marketing ground, that people would forget about me and my work, that in the fast paced, all-information-all-the-time world we live in, I would fade into the woodwork without constant reminder of my presence. My work and my career were a constant itch at the back of my mind, an ever-present voice in my head.
And that is no way to live. It kept me from being in the moment, from fully enjoying time with my family. Ironically, it reminded me a lot of the life I left behind in California. The one where I couldn’t even go out to lunch with one of my kids without a running diatribe that went something like this; “I have exactly twenty minutes before I have to pick up so and so. Then, if I hurry, I can get to such and such’s appointment and still get home in time to start dinner at six. If we’re done by seven, I can get two loads of laundry in before bed. Oh! And I have to meet Vicki at six tomorrow morning instead of seven. I should write that down. And also, I should prepare for that meeting with XYZ company. I can do that before bed.”
Doesn’t it stress you out just reading it?! It stresses me out all over again. One of the weirdest things about leaving that life behind was the idea that I had TIME. I would be sitting with the kids or taking a walk or playing a game with them, and I would start to feel anxious and rushed, even though I had nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do for the first time in years. I had to teach myself to be in the moment.
I’ve let myself get there again. And while I actually enjoy my work now, it’s still unhealthy to live with that voice all the time. It’s still unhealthy not to have real downtime. I don’t think we’re built for this constant connectedness. The human soul needs time to center itself now and again.
This last Sunday was my first day “off” this year. It was a little different than I’d planned, mostly because Rebekah was moving back into her dorm after the holiday and I spent the day helping her get settled. Even so, there were a few lessons that I’ll carry forward to next Sunday and beyond;
1. Even checking my email took me out of the “day off” mentality. I didn’t answer them, but as soon as I saw them sitting there in my Inbox, I’d feel myself tense up and the voice would be back, planning how I’d respond on Monday. Next week, I’m going to try not even opening my email. I’ll set an away message so people know I won’t respond until Monday. Hopefully, that will remove some of my anxiety that people will think I’m a slacker for not responding right away.
2. This was somewhat true for Facebook as well. I logged in a couple of times from my phone while I was waiting for Rebekah to put everything away, and even that little thing made a difference. All of a sudden, I had everyone’s “noise” in my head and I was back in it.
3. Being mindful made a difference. I didn’t fully appreciate my time when I was just moving from one activity to another. I enjoyed it more when I paused to really think about what I was doing, to really acknowledge to myself that this was precious time doing something I loved (like going to lunch with Rebekah after we’d unpacked her room). With this in mind, I’m going to plan a couple of things to do next Sunday. Instead of taking the fun out of it, it will give me something to look forward to during the craziness of the week and I think I’ll appreciate it more when it comes, even if it’s just a plan to take myself out for a cappuccino and read or to sit on the couch with a cup of tea and a chocolate croissant. Who knows? This may backfire, making me feel TOO planned. But I’m going to give it a try!
And I’m going to continue this experiment throughout the year. If you’re feeling stressed out or too busy, if the voice in your head had become ever-present, if the noise of the world has become your own, maybe you’d like to join me?