How much busy time do you steal to relax?

Published 8:58 am Monday, February 17, 2014

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” — Carl Sandburg

Have you heard the words, “I am in a time crunch?” How often during the day do you take a little time to do something fun, but feel guilty because of all the things that are running through your mind that you have to do?

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I read an article recently in Redbook by Brigid Schulte. Schulte did a study on time and found that there was leisure time in her day that she hadn’t considered. A phone conversation with a friend, a cup of coffee in the middle of the morning or listening to the radio before we get out of bed can all be considered leisure time.

According to Schulte, the problem with this leisure time is the fact that when we are taking this leisure time, our brains are always looking on to the many tasks ahead. We are multitasking leisure time by running this to-do list though our heads and not relaxing.

I can resonate with that. I was used to fitting in my writing while I was doing something else, now that writing is my career, I feel guilty. It makes me anxious sitting and concentrating on one task. I feel there is something else I should be doing. I have lived the multitask life for so long it feels lazy to do one thing at a time.

Schulte points out that we need to look at our conversations. The Christmas letters I write are about our busy life. If I look at the ones I receive, they say the same thing. When we have conversations with our friends, our busy life is the topic. I wonder what would happen if I would answer the question: What have you been doing? with the answer: I have been so lazy.

What kind of reaction would I get? Being busy peppers our conversations. Is it a contest to see who can be the busiest because we don’t want to be known as a slacker?

We all know busy people and have busy friends. These people seem to love their life and are involved in many charitable activities that benefit others. That is a good thing if they are happy with their lives. Do we do things and keep ourselves busy because we feel the need to be busy? Or do we stay busy so we won’t be seen as slacking off and not doing our part in a busy society?

Do men feel that busy crunch? Redbook is a woman’s magazine but according to Schulte, men feel they deserve the leisure time while women feel they have to earn it. I wonder if our busy life is because we feel we have to live up to others expectations.

I too have a hard time quieting my mind. I decided to try an experiment. I downloaded an app called Insight Timer on my phone. It is a meditation app. The app chimes a tone when it starts, I chose 10 minutes and it chimes a tone when the 10 minutes are up.

The first time I used the app my mind was racing on all of the things I had to do for the day. Ten minutes seemed long. It was hard to quiet my mind, to let it go to thinking about nothing. The next couple of days the time flew by. It was amazing. I was finally able to settle to mush in my brain. At the end of the 10 minutes, the creativity flowed and the tenseness left my body. There was something about that chime that relaxed my mind the minute I heard it.

I loved the above quote by Carl Sandburg. Occasionally, even in our work situations and home situations, we do have some control over our time. Perhaps it is a state of mind. Stopping the running list in our minds when we are supposed to have leisure time, may give us a little more peace and energy when we tackle the actual to do list.

Let the mind rest for a few moments. Those moments rest might give us hours of rejuvenation.

Who is controlling your time? Or maybe the question should be: Who, or what, is controlling your thoughts? Or perhaps the most important question is: How is your busy life affecting your health?

By the way, I have been so lazy.

The article mentioned above by Brigid Schulte can be read in the March 2014 Redbook. It is titled “Desperate For More Time?”


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at Her Facebook page is