I may have mentioned before that I am a Psychologies reader. This morning, whilst reading a piece on the healing properties of trees with my early morning cuppa, I read a short paragraph from a reader who said “I was drawn to a large tree standing alone. It had already shed most of its leaves and seemed ready for what would come next. I realised that I was too. Nothing new can come along if you don’t make room for it.”
This last phrase hooked me in. It ran around my head whilst I was out walking Charlie and as it was a misty, chilly morning, I ruminated inwards instead of looking around me.
I realised that she is totally right! And that this is what I try to do in my daily life. However, I rarely succeed because I pile loads of stuff to do onto myself and before I know where I am, it’s the end of the day and I haven’t stopped. I suspect that is what most of us do. I try to start each new day with a clean slate and allow myself breathing and thinking space, but somehow that time is squeezed out.
Even now, when I’d decided just 10 minutes ago to sit down and savour my cup of tea, I now find myself absent-mindedly slurping it whilst writing this! It made me stop and realise just how much we fill our days – well, at least I do.
I thought maybe that perhaps this is something that self-employed people working on their own do most, but then I thought back to my office days and remembered that I would do exactly the same thing, but that the pressure on my shoulders then was fulfilling someone else’s brief, whilst now it’s my own. In a workplace there is the social aspect of a coffee break or a tea break – nominally, at least, although many workplaces pressurise employees into keeping working and not socialising. But when you work for yourself, and when you work alone, you pressurise yourself into keeping going because you want, and need, to succeed.
I know myself that when my day includes time of non-work mode, it seems lighter somehow – like white space on a page – that room to reflect and relax. If a page is full of closely typed dense paragraphs, it seems such a chore to read it, but if the same material is set out over several pages, with more space between words, more paragraphs and larger margins, it seems somehow easier to read – no matter that the content is exactly the same! That mind’s eye image of a day reflects the same process – areas of no appointments or scheduled tasks lighten the day’s image and makes it more open to influence or serendipity.
So that’s today’s aim. Keep that lighter feeling by incorporating short periods of down-time – space in which anything could happen – or nothing could happen, and either will be ok.