One 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.