If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I’m a list-making-goal-setter. I start every day with a cup of coffee, my day planner, and a mechanical pencil. I carefully break down my daily “to do’s” into three categories: personal, the girls, and household. Rare is the day that I don’t have more list than I do day, which is why the → (“task forward” symbol) often appears in my book as well. I admit, I have a love/hate relationship with this little arrow. Some days, it brings relief, and some days, pressure.
Yes, I recognize mine is not a “normal” day planner relationship. But, we work well together. Well, most days. Like any relationship, an occasional break does us good. Even if it causes me mild panic. Yesterday was one of those days.
The effects of the previous week had clearly taken a toll. Aside from the usual weekly household chore load, there were business calls, appointments, final “special time” with L, and preparations for my daughter’s return. Friday was spent grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning (upstairs, downstairs, and the cottage) and preparing “Welcome Home” posters. C arrived home late Friday night. By the time her weather-delayed plane touched down, every muscle in my body ached, leaving me dragging through the weekend. Not surprisingly, the soaring temperatures and restless sleep did little to energize me. Nonetheless, my planner was still directing me in the chores that needed to be finished, visitors received, and calls made. By Sunday night, I felt a bit like “road kill” which lead me to take a melatonin sleep aid (that I had purchased to help my daughter recover from jet-lag.)
Though, I had awoken yesterday with more energy than I had in days, it lasted under 2 hours. I had enjoyed my coffee, and the page in my planner was still blank. My week was certainly not starting out “as planned.” Regardless of how deep I dug, I couldn’t find the energy to make a second espresso let alone plan my day with any direction.
Then I remembered something I had learned at a Tom Hopkins motivational/sales training seminar years ago; “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” It is one of the many motivational quotes that hangs in my office. No, I’m not a masochist. I remember what he said after he introduced that dictum to his audience; “Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is sit on the beach.” It was freeing for an obsessive planner like me, this concept of actively “doing nothing” to recharge my batteries. It became the “silver bullet” in my arsenal against “burn out.”
I don’t use it often, but when I need it–really need it in the “Did anyone get the plate of the truck that hit me?” kind of way, I remember to take a figurative “beach day.” Yesterday was one of those days. Aside from preparing breakfast for my girls, I did the most productive thing I could for the rest of the day–I sat. I read. I drank ice water. I watched old shows on Netflix with the girls. I stretched my legs. I sat some more and then, I declared a “free day” for all remaining snacks and meals. (It was an expression my mom used when I was growing up which means “Fend for yourself.” Given my fridge is currently as stocked as a deli counter, they had plenty of options beyond the chocolate cake both opted for repeatedly. 🙂 )
At the end of the day yesterday, I brought my planner over to the couch where I had sat all day. I looked at the blank page, not even so much as a phone message was scribbled down. I took in a very deep breath and did the most productive thing I could do. With one finger, I flipped it closed. I was still at the beach doing nothing…and no one takes a planner to the beach–except maybe me, of course.