Restore: Managing the White Space on Your Calendar

We’ve all done it. Come on… admit it.   You’ve spent a day on the couch, reading, watching TV, napping.

But, how do we know if we are restoring ourselves or just procrastinating?

“What is the difference?” you say, “At the end of the day, I got nothing done and I’m still behind.”

Here is what I’ve observed, in myself. If I am procrastinating than I feel an excess level of guilt about the things I should be doing. And the things I stress the most about are the things I want to do the least. Sometimes accompanied by thoughts around “But WHY do I have to do this? How will it improve things?” You remember the homework days, right?

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Procrastination is defined as the putting off of something intentionally and habitually. It carries the implication of laziness or apathy.  It is often associated with the avoidance of an undesirable task: laundry, a term paper, paying bills when money is tight.

But what about the downtime of recharging and restoration? Should we avoid it, feel guilty if we take time off to do nothing “important”?

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I work for a major bank as a platform banker during the day. I am that person you go to about opening a checking account, applying for a loan, when your account or card information has been stolen, when you have spent more than you have in your account.  It is an energy demanding job.

Most days I can come home and after some transitioning with mail opening, dinner, kitchen cleaning; I can focus on the things that I believe will shape my next five years.  I have blocked out my time for reading, writing, studying. Meeting with peers and clients for accountability and coaching.

Then there are those other evenings.  Like the wood in my fireplace I could not get ignited.  There were things that I wanted to do. But I was beset by a nagging tiredness.  I WANTED to do things but couldn’t work up the get up and go.  It wasn’t a physical tiredness, it was mental. My brain said STOP!

So, I park myself in my favorite chair or on the couch and channel surf. Nothing looks particularly exciting, so I settle on one of the Hallmark Channels where the plots are sweet and unlikely to damage neurons.  What is your go-to must-watch?

Or perhaps it is a long walk by myself, with or with earbuds. In my ears, I might be listening to either music or a fun fiction novel.

One of the things I have learned as I have grown older is that downtime is necessary and an important task in and of itself.

When we are in our twenties, just starting out, making a name and a life for ourselves, there was no time for downtime. We work, we study, we play hard. We get home at 4 AM and are back at our desks before 9 AM ready to do it all again. And the years rush by, often without a thought as to where we are going.

Then comes the day when we ask “Why am I doing this? Why don’t I feel fulfilled or feel joy?”

Hopefully, we find that quiet café where we can sit and read for fun. Or it might be the walking trail that mutes the noise of life with that shady tree to sit under and listen to nature, to our thoughts.

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To learn to be in the moment before the moment has passed.

I know that when I do my mind relaxes and wanders down corridors of purpose, goals and focus. And because I have learned the value of restoration…. I let it wander and observe where it goes.

And, if we truly listen, to embrace the wisdom of the quiet moments, we rise restored.

We can find ourselves.

I call it the white space in the calendar. Those blocks of time from 15 minutes to hours when you set aside commitments, the to-do list, and the rabbit hole of social media to just be.

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Guess you can see why I’m pretty sure art is not part of my life purpose.

While it is CLEARLY not one of my gifts, I do have a HUGE appreciation for those who can create images that inspire and bring joy.

 

Where do you go for restoration? What do you do to find that meditative space and reconnect with your core energy?

No whites space? Do your real self a favor and create some.

Share your white space experience with us in the comments.