A day off from my to-do list

relaxOne of the easiest goals I set when I came up with The List was taking a day off for no reason. At least it should have been easy. Unfortunately, taking time off has always been tough for me.

Like a lot of women, I’m always juggling a million things at once. I’m a wife, an employee, a blogger, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a dog owner, CFO of our household … and my responsibilities continue to grow. With so many things to do, it’s hard to take a break. Even on vacations, I have a long list of what we want to do and see. There’s never time to just sit and be.

My point isn’t to whine. To be honest, I don’t know that I could live any other way. I enjoy being busy, taking on responsibility, crossing things off my to-do list. There’s nothing more satisfying for me, and I wouldn’t continue to add to my list if I didn’t relish in getting it all done. If I had to sit still more than a few minutes at a time, I’d probably go crazy.

I’ve gotten so used to being so busy all the time, though, that I forget sometimes that taking a day off is an option. My days are spent with one to-do list after another, which is fine most of the time, but I need to remember that it’s okay if I don’t get everything done sometimes. It’s okay if I take a little time off.

Last Monday morning after my parents left, I was feeling overwhelmed. We had such a great time with them, but I had a long list of to-dos, and not enough time to finish them. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. So I talked myself into doing something I’ve never done: I called off work.

I’ve never taken an unplanned day off from any job. I’ve worked through fevers, personal crises, and any number of other events when I really just wanted to stay home.

After debating with myself for an hour, I finally called my boss and told him I wouldn’t be coming in. I was stressed about his reaction, but I wasn’t surprised that he was supportive. I’ve been there for a whole year, and this is the first time I’ve called off without requesting the time off at least a week in advance.

In order for this to be a true day off, though, I couldn’t treat it like another busy weekend. I spent a little time writing, but other than that I didn’t cross anything off my to-do list. I didn’t do my laundry. I let the dishes pile up. I watched movies, took an afternoon nap, and spent the day doing nothing.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty at the end of the day. I’d taken a full day off, and nothing was done. But it was a wonderful reminder that doing nothing can be an option occasionally. It’s okay to take a day off every now and then. On Tuesday, everything on my to-do list was still there. Slowly but surely throughout the week I was able to catch up.

If you’re like me and you can’t remember your last real day off from your to-do list, I urge you to take one. Call off work if you can. Ask your spouse or babysitter to take the kids for the day or even for just a few hours, and take some time for yourself to do nothing. We all need a mental health day every once in a while.

Photo by fd

3 thoughts on “A day off from my to-do list

  1. EastTXmom

    Karen –

    I wish more women did this, took a day for themselves, a day of doing nothing more than brushing teeth and watching TV. We need that time to recharge, but so often we put others and stuff ahead of ourselves. I recently took a day of doing ‘nothing’ (with the exception of getting kids to school) a couple weeks ago when I wrapped up the semester from hell and went straight back to bed till noon. After a quick shower, I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on Lie to Me episodes I’d recorded, and of course, eating nothing but junk. For dinner, it was hot dogs and chips and then back to bed. And it ended up being exactly what I needed.

    A day of doing nothing should be a requirement every few months, a time to recharge our batteries.

    Take care

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