Earlier this week I attended a funeral for a friend's mother. It was the first time in a long time that I shut my phone off for about four, almost five hours, during the work day. I felt that if I took a peek at my phone during the mass or graveside ceremony it would be disrespectful. The odd part was how nice it felt to give myself permission to focus on just one thing.
I made the hour commute to the church with a friend who had taken the entire day off work to go to the funeral. My friend, a working mom, had run a few errands before picking me up and spent the commute home with me plotting her late afternoon errands -- taking kids to the dentist, picking up a mother's day gift, mailing a package. I spoke to her later that night and she had accomplished it all. Yet, she was absolutely exhausted.
Have we gone too far in driving ourselves to get more done? Are we trying to pack too much into our days? As a nation, we've become obsessed with productivity. Our to-dos lists are growing and our calendars are overflowing.
So, how do we slow down?
The answer is insanely obvious...we simply be present in life.
Some days, something as simple as having a cup of coffee becomes a juggling act of replying to emails and surfing the web. Give yourself permission to do less and think more.
What if you don't get to the 10 things on your to-do list? What if you just got to the one that made the most impact on your life for that one day?
I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how to come up with a great idea. It was filled with great suggestions but the one that made the most sense is Be Present in Life. If you're not busy running around trying to pack more into your day and you just slow down, you might find a great idea is right under your nose.
If we really want better work life balance, we are going to need to trade super-productiveness for sanity. That's hard to remember some days. But after decades of trying to be super mom, I'm finally focusing on sanity.