"Meet With Yourself. Set aside one- or two-hour long blocks of time on your calendar each week for reflection and catching up. Make no commitments during these quiet hours."
-Maggie Jackson, author of "Distracted: the Erosion of Attention and Coming Dark Age"-
It's Sunday morning. Normally, I'm up at 7:00 am, out the door by 8:00 am. Off to exercise, do a weekly grocery shop, run some errands and I'm home by noon--in time to share an afternoon with my husband--or friends--or whatever the calendar dictates.
When I woke up at 6:00 am, I knew I was staying home this morning.
Yesterday afternoon I took a long walk with my friend Bonnie. She's a teacher of gifted children and she puts in 150% of herself everyday. Once the school year starts she's at her desk at 7:30 am, home at 5:00 pm to put together a dinner--and she always has a sit-down "real meal" eaten at the table --and then the rest of the evening is devoted to planning lessons, grading tests, making up tests & writing reports. No exercise, no TV, no computer time-wasting, no reading for enjoyment. Frankly, I don't know how she does it. Basically, she lives for her summers off.
Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day, and as we walked around a nearby lake she waved me over to a bench that was on the the bank.
"Come here. Let's sit down. Now this is what I miss during the school year. Just sitting down, doing nothing and appreciating this gorgeous view."
As we neared the end of our walk, Bonnie said, "The worst part of being so busy is not keeping up with old friends. I just learned that an old friend of mine--someone who came all the way from Colorado to attend my daughter's wedding & took my other daughter out to dinner when she was visiting Boston--is in the hospital for a kidney & pancreas transplant. She'd been on the waiting list for months, and I never knew. I just never knew. And, I was always so good at keeping in touch--remembering everyone's birthdays and anniversaries with cards. Not now. That's the worst part."
All week I've been thinking about and reading about the craziness of multitasking, daily distraction--and our addiction to frenzied constant activity. We've become uncomfortable with unplanned & unproductive quiet alone time--no TV--no DVDs--no radio--no music--no cell phones--no talking--no computer. We've forgotten what it feels like to give our full attention to one thing at a time.
When I woke up this morning I thought about Maggie Jackson's advice and I knew I was staying home:
Meet With Yourself. Set aside one- or two-hour long blocks of time on your calendar each week for reflection and catching up. Make no commitments during these quiet hours.
What a wonderful morning! It took less than 2 hours to really feel recharged. Here's all it took for me:
- I read the old-fashioned newspaper in absolute quiet. No radio background noise to distract me. I usually read about 4 newspapers online, and I'm left feeling kind of like I do when I watch TV with my husband & he's constantly channel surfing with the remote control. I'm clicking from one half-read article to the next--one online newspaper to the next. Left feeling a little jangled-unsatisfied-distracted.
- I sent out 4 cards--a condolence card to a friend, an "I'm thinking about you" card to my mother-in-law, a "Words of Wisdom" card to one of my sons, and a birthday card to my sister.
- I updated my Google calendar with all my upcoming appointments, upcoming activities, upcoming special occasions, and things I want to be sure to remember. For a low-tech, non-Palm Pilot person like me, this is a fantastic system. I can set email reminders to make sure I don't forget anything. I learned about GCAL, aka Google Calendar from Zen Habits' Leo Babauta. To read his "How to Never Forget Anything Again" post click here.
That's all it took--those 3 little activities--done before I did anything else, and now somehow I feel recharged.
It's only 10:00 am, I've written this post; I'm about to meditate for 1/2 hour and take a walk; and that "Meeting With Myself" was the best "Activity Antidote" you can imagine!