I read an interesting New York Times article recently about a woman who, in an effort to track how busy she REALLY was, began logging her time for a full year. The mother of four (all under age 8) found that, true, she kept busy, but she also had time to read, to work out, to sleep. She found she didn’t work as many hours as she thought she did (right around 40 per week).
“A life is lived in hours,” she writes. “What we do with our lives will be a function of how we spend those hours, and we get only so many.”
I found it interesting to think about a year in this way, especially against the backdrop of our crazy-busy society where people love to wear busyness and stress like a badge. And then, there’s more to it than the actual hours when you think about it. It’s your mindset during those hours, too. Did the article’s author feel that she was able to be present and mindful even in those non-hectic moments? I wonder.
The article reinforced how tired I’ve grown of the “I’m so busy!” mantra so many people have, and I’ve tried to pretty well eliminate it from my life. I mean, yeah, I get busy, but everyone is, right? I’m not impressed when people seem to be busy just to be able to say they’re busy. You should be busy — busy doing things you’ve committed to and are responsible for, balanced by things you enjoy and that enrich your life.
And the mindfulness thing, too. It’s so important, and easy to overlook. I used to feel like I had to have a crammed-full schedule, making the most of every moment and saying “yes” to everything and everyone. And not so much out of obligation, either, but more because I a.) didn’t want to feel left out and b.) genuinely wanted to do most of those things.
Lately, though, I’ve noticed a big shift in myself. I crave quiet and stillness in ways I haven’t historically. And I love it.
I love being still, not talking, and getting immersed in an activity that’s just for me (reading, baking, running, walking Fulton). Maybe that’s just part of getting older for some people? I find it interesting — and definitely new — but also remarkably peaceful and meditative.
I don’t plan on tracking the next year based on how I spend each hour. I’m not too concerned about fitting it all in, making it all work, or having it all. I’m confident it will fall into place. And for some parts, I’ll be (happily) on the sidelines, and that’s okay. I love my more-quiet-lately life, and taking my foot off the gas (something that just seemed to happen on its own) has been quite freeing.
Have any of y’all noticed a similar natural slowing in your lives?
2 thoughts on “Slowing Down These Days”
Yes, I’ve been making adjustments to help achieve more still and solo time. My calendar remains full, but not the way it used to be. I find even though I get excited about planning our vacations and smaller travels, when it’s time to finally pack and leave I have little to no interest in going. Once we’re at our destination I’m a bit more engaged, but still miss being home, trying out a recipe, being with our pets, etc. Not long ago I wondered if I was developing mild agoraphobia, but like you describe it is just a natural shift of having a strong desire for peaceful time!
Earlier this year I heard Laura Vanderkam (the author of the article you posted) speak at a writer conference. She talked about the “I’m too busy” excuse for declining things. She suggested that we replace that phrase with “that’s not a priority for me right now.” I started doing that and it IS honest and gets rid of the ‘busy’ talk. 🙂
Thanks so much for your comment. I’m convinced it’s just a natural thing, and I am really enjoying it. That’s awesome that you got to hear Laura speak!