What We Do Instead

There are always a million things to be done in a day. And I am one of those people who get them done. There is no wasted time. As a child, I never remember having to be told to do my homework before I could go out and play. I didn’t WANT to go out and play until the work was done. I’m just wired that way. Possibly, that’s a genetic predisposition passed on through my Granddo – an inability to relax.

Granddo would work all day and not rest until she came home, made dinner and cleaned the kitchen. Now, as an adult I have tried to take ‘vacations.’ I have been told that I am horrible at this. Why? Because my idea of relaxation is running earlier in the day, when other people want to sleep in. Why? Because I find comfort in completing tasks in my free time that otherwise get ignored during my regular routine. Why? Because I find peace in being productive. Wasted time is silly to me.

But every now and then, I get overwhelmed. I look at the invoices I’ve yet to send out, the summaries yet to be submitted for review, the manuscript my publicist has been expecting for months and I become strangely fascinated with a Jiffy Greenhouse instead. I plant vegetables. Yes. When I should be scheduling appointments, following up with clients, organizing financial analyses … I plant vegetables.

I’m not particularly good at this. In fact, I am horrible at it! I’m also not very good at cooking but when I find myself overcome with deadlines and outside pressure, I turn into a regular Martha Stewart. I cook. I clean. I rearrange the furniture in my house and then put it back again. I am not by nature a procrastinator, but even I, in all my superhuman determination, am not exempt from becoming overwhelmed.

What we do is important. It has its role and that’s why we work so hard to get those things done every day. But what we do instead also matters and can tell us a lot about who we are and what we value. It’s okay to step away from things to clear your head – if what you do instead gives you peace and helps you feel refreshed and refocused.

Take an inventory of where your attentions turn when they turn away from the ‘big rocks’ on your to-do list. If you find yourself overeating, drinking, or binge-watching TV, it might be time to do something else instead.

What we do instead is important too.

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