When I returned from my first major freelance press trip in 2005, I had a new lease on life and managing stress, time, and work. I felt enormously balanced in my everyday duties after spending two weeks running to make trains and ferries in Europe; I finished my calls and busy-work in the morning, took an hour for lunch, and returned to the office to finish out the day and check the last few things off my list before jetting out to the gym and home to cook dinner.
Ah, how delightfully mundane it all was. And I’m not even being sarcastic – the perspective was great.
Of course, gradually life gets in the way of our best-laid plans and after a few months, I was back to procrastinating in the mornings, skipping lunch to catch up and then clock-watching until 5:30, when I was too frazzled to go to the gym or make a homemade meal. But ever since 2005, I’ve been on the never-ending quest to regain that daily balance, because I’ve already proven to myself that it works and makes life so much more enjoyable. Gradually, I record little successes.
Granted, there are roadblocks beyond my control. First, my career itself necessitates a little frenzy now and again. Stories fall through, interview subjects cancel, computers crash … it’s the way of the journalism world and I’m OK with that. In addition, editors tend to derail that whole work-life balance notion quicker than you can reschedule your mani-pedi.
But this week, the editor is away, putting me in his place. You’d think that would create a hellish two weeks, but in actuality, things are going smoothly and I’m reconnecting with my journey to have a life, not a job that encompasses it. I’m not really one to slack off in the absence of a supervisor, but I do feel more comfortable navigating the day in my own way when I’m alone in the editorial wing. And here it is, 1 pm, and I’m largely finished with my big tasks, both office-related and otherwise. I’ve been downright productive!
That means I can take a lunch without rush or guilt, and there’s something to be said for that. Americans tend to overwork themselves into cardiac arrest (literally), but so many other cultures understand the importance of downtime. Our country as a whole, on the other hand, looks at downtime as laziness.
My parents are self-employed, and as such I was raised to have a good work ethic. But my father still takes his lunch every day, and I pity the fool that calls my 70-year old dad, who as I type is likely dangling from some scaffolding to pound that last, stubborn nail, lazy. Trust me, the sentence doesn’t even compute.
Having laid my last proverbial shingle this morning, I’m off to take my lunch – and having finished my other errands during lunch yesterday, the hour ahead of me in which there’s nothing I have to do is shockingly open. I can do anything – I can go for a walk, browse a store, relax with a coffee, or go home and take a nap if I want to.
This is the way it’s supposed to be – every day.
‘A visitor‘ left this comment on 5 Jun 08
great post, balance is so important.