Down Time

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-by Jaime Willis

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.

As regular readers, friends, and family know, my Grandfather passed away last week. I have spent the last seven days in Michigan both mourning and celebrating my Grandpa’s life. Please accept my sincere thanks and gratitude for all of the assistance and support you have given me over the last week — I truly appreciated every comment, email, text, and check in phone call. Special thanks go to my Velocity partner, Matt, for holding down the fort online and ‘in real life’ while I was gone.

As I packed my bags yesterday and began the trek home — car to plane to bus to metro to bus — my stress level started to rise thinking of all of the projects waiting for me at home.

  • The 10K’s I need to make up running over the next few weeks.
  • The triathlon training I need to begin (again) in earnest.
  • The laundry and housework I left behind.
  • The meetings I need to attend.
  • The critical projects I need to finish.
  • The classwork that needs to get done.
  • The phone calls that need answering.
  • The emails that need answering.
  • The travel plans I have to make for a trip this weekend.

Photo by Sasha Wolff

So much work that needs to get done and so little time to do it. I know we’ve all felt the same coming back from any time off of work — from vacation, from illness, from a death in the family. We feel guilty for being behind right out of the gate, we feel panicked from the sheer load of work, we feel an obligation to Get Things Done.

What if we simply allowed ourselves to breathe a bit? What if we chose not to get stressed about re-entering our lives and know that what needs to get done will get done? What if we stopped feeling guilty for taking time for ourselves?

As I flew home last night, I started to make lists in my head of all the work that needed to be done and all the errands that needed to be run. I would hit the ground running as soon as I keyed into my apartment and go – go – go. But just the idea of working on projects at 9pm at night sounded terrible and stressful. Instead, I spent the evening snuggling with my cats and catching up with my friends.

And this morning, I feel GREAT about that decision.

I know that there are a lot of tasks on my plate and I know that I’ll get them done. I am choosing to feel good about my down time, not guilty. I am choosing to accept that I am not a robot and need time to transition back into my daily routine — and that is OK.

Feeling guilty or stressed about my workload does nothing to help me get stuff done, so why bother with the negativity? Why not feel great about the way I’ve chosen to schedule my life? I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a week at home with family. I wouldn’t have traded last week for any check on my to-do list. When I think of my time off that way, I am totally content with my schedule and choices.

I wonder how you would feel if you chose to be grateful instead of guilty, at peace instead of stressed? Try it and see!

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