December 21. With twelve days of vacation stretched in front of me, visions of organizational grandeur peppered my thoughts. I had closets to clean, documents to organize, and rooms to conquer. I finally had time to attack the accumulating detritus of domesticity, and I would prevail!
January 1, 5pm. Still in my pajamas, I looked around my house, blinking as if just waking up from a long sleep. Except for a few newly added deposits of Christmas gifts littering the landscape, my house looked the same as it had eleven days prior. I hadn’t accomplished a single thing on my list–nor had I tried.
In the remaining hours of the evening, I managed to dismantle a Christmas tree; wash, dry, and fold three loads of laundry; make dinner; and resolve a couple of nagging work issues. I accomplished more between 5 and midnight that evening that I had during the cumulative rest of my vacation. I’m ashamed of myself.
I realized in hindsight that I had been exhibiting this behavior for quite some time. Although I would be appropriately productive during the work week, weekends would come and go with only a last-minute flurry of activity on Sunday night. It was as if, when faced with the looming prospect of a very real “something to do,” my brain would suddenly switch into let’s-get-something-done mode. When faced with a blank canvas of time however, it would retreat into limbo.
This isn’t a new concept for me (for proof, read Do something from September 2011). Even so, I continue to relearn the lesson which I conveniently push to the recesses of my mind until I trip over it on idle days and fall on my face. As much as I crave a life (or a few days) of leisure, I find that I need a little bit of pressure to keep me moving forward. I need not just a goal, but also a deadline. Margaret Thatcher knew it, too:
Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you’ve had everything to do, and you’ve done it. –Margaret Thatcher
Do something, Tammy. Do something.
Note: Thanks to Kayla Cruz for her post, Being Overwhelmed, which got me thinking about all of this again.
All the doing nothing is healthy for you though. We all need that time to recharge our batteries.
Thanks, Pamela. I think I passed the healthy threshold about a day after Christmas!
“Detritus of domesticity”. I love it . And quit being so tough on yourself. You are one of the most productive people I know!
Thanks, Dick. You’re too kind!
Idle City. Yes, I’ve been there. “Brainstorming sessions” is now what I call my temporary “recharging” breaks! T.
Good call on that! “Meditation” might be an option, too. Thanks, T! 😉