The blog is out late today. Late by my standards. I usually write it early Monday mornings from the comfort of my cozy chair, while the world is still quiet and it's dark out. This morning, my schedule changed, and now I go teach when I normally write. It was an intentional change, and yet nonetheless, my mind went straight to how I should have gotten it out, I should have figure it out... which is ironic because I said I was writing this for me and no one else, so who cares when it does or doesn't go out. Why the self criticism? This is something I've been learning about myself the past few weeks.
I am someone who thrives on structure. The times in my life I have been the most productive are the time I have been the quote un quote "busiest." When I have structure, I can get shit done! Give me a day that's full and I will manage to get 25 things done. Give me a day where I have all day to get things done but no structure and I will get nothing done. Now, I could work at being more structured on my own, forcing myself to create that structure, using all the tools I know are available to be more disciplined with my time. I know this is a BIG area of growth for me. AND. There comes a point where I can get so hard on myself and critical and rigid with my time that life becomes no fun anymore. There has to be a balance to it, and it's one that I, as a human struggle to find. This last week, I had quite a few days that ended up being wide open. I watched each day as I tried to be productive and I watched that productivity slowly dwindle. I finally said to myself, why does every day have to "productive," what does that word even mean, and what if productivity isn't what I think it is? So, I rested. I made bread. I baked. I took the dogs on long walks. I went to the farmers market. And by Saturday, when I got sent an article to write for a company and they gave me a week, I wrote it in the span of 30 minutes. Turns out, I needed the time and the space.
Why is it that I (and maybe you to) feel like I need to fill every waking minute of my life with something "productive?" What is so wrong with sitting and just sitting? It's because it feels like nothing to me. How can doing "nothing" actually get me anywhere? But I'm reminded time and time again, that it does. Now, I still don't think days on end with no structure is good all the time, but I do think remembering to put intentional rest periods into my day are important, because they actually help me do what I do best in the long run.
I recently re-read the book Burnout, by Amelia and Emily Nagoski (which, if you haven't read, you need to). In it, they talk about how humans, on average, should be resting 40% of their day. that's 10 hours! Now, that includes sleep, so if you subtract 8 hours give or take for that, that's 2 hours a day that we need to be doing, well, a whole lot of nothing. That nothing could still be movement... a walk or even time at the gym, but it needs to be something where we are disengaging from all the "work" and productivity we do and just giving ourselves a moment. (and some days, for me, a workout is actually not it!)
What if I started scheduling rest into my day like I schedule my workouts? like I schedule my meetings? My appointments? how different would my life look if I prioritized rest?
Time flies by so quickly, and it can be easy to want to scrape out every minute we can to get the most done and live our best lives... but what if part of living our best life is not about how much we do... but who we are being?
I, for one, would rather rest more if it means I spend less time agonizing or trying to push through. If it means I'll actually be excited when I do get to work.
This week, that's on the top of my priority list.