I don’t know what your Mondays looked like this week, but mine started at about 7:30 a.m. (I let my oldest drive so I could sleep in a little – thank you driver’s license!). We had a band concert, so by the time I got home and could relax for the night it was about 9:30 p.m. (of course, that doesn’t include BOTH of my boys coming to me to look over their papers they had written.)
Between 7:30 a,m. and 9:30 p.m. I exercised, put meatloaf in the crock pot, washed 5 loads of laundry, wrote an article, did marketing research, outlined a story, walked the dog, served dinner in shifts and went to a band concert. I also happen to have an infected tooth from a partial root canal (don’t ask!), so I did all that sort of drugged up.
If I wanted to be really productive, I’m sure there were other projects I could have worked on instead of taking a 30 minute nap. I could have used all the minutes in my day. I could have worked those margins so there was no white space left.
While I am a fan of using my time wisely (I am the ultimate putter-er and can waste a day like nobody’s business), I’m not sure how wise it is to be constantly trying to be more productive, to squeeze one more thing onto plates that are so full they are teetering.
Where did we get the idea that more is always better?
I recently got an email entitled, “Make the Most of All Your Minutes.” While I don’t think it is a bad thing to be intentional with your time, this kind of thinking can definitely trap me into always feeling behind.
The other day, I was working on cleaning out some cabinets and realized I was experiencing a vague sense of guilt. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I realized I tend to walk around with a constant, nagging anxiety that I should either be doing something else or working faster at what I am doing or am somehow behind before I even began.
I hadn’t thought of the story of Mary and Martha for a long time, but when it came up in my Bible study just this past week, I was struck again by how much the productivity gurus would have been all about Martha who was “busy doing many things.” I’m sure they might have even sniffed a bit in disapproval to see Mary sitting. Sure, she was sitting AT JESUS’ FEET, but she wasn’t DOING anything.
When Martha pointed out that she was doing all the work while Mary wasn’t doing anything, Jesus gently chided her. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Every morning, I spend time with Jesus. I read my Bible and spend time praying. My goal is to begin my work day at about 9 a.m., but I often find myself going over that. Maybe I got started a few minutes late, or maybe I get into a really good conversation with God, but I look at the clock. I see that it is closing in on 9:30, and I feel like a failure. Like once again, I am starting out behind.
I also tend to get sidetracked. When a friend calls me and has a problem, I’ll spend 45 minutes on the phone. I look at the clock when I hang up and realize that, once again, I’m behind schedule.
But whose schedule am I worried about really?
I work from home. I don’t have set hours, except when I have an interview scheduled. The only person who is disappointed in me is, well, me. Clearly, I have issues.
But here’s the deal, here is what Jesus has been showing me. Relationship -whether with Jesus or a person – can only happen when you are present. And to be present, sometimes, you have to still.
So, maybe it’s time we stop reading productivity tips and start working instead on being present. I’d love to hear how you make space in your life to be present.