FORGET NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR A SECOND.
This afternoon, my winter break officially begins, and I am pumped.
I have two intentions for winter break: zero guilt and zero input.
Here’s the thing – I really love working from home. I love zero commute, and I love having my kids close by. I am comfortable and productive. I think that if I had the option, I could do this for a long time.
HOWEVER – I am a person very prone to guilt, and there’s a tricky guilt trap I can fall into while working from home. It’s the trap of I should be working.
I am disciplined and committed when it comes to leaving work at work. It’s something I had to train myself to do when I became a social worker, because I simply can’t do my job to the best of my ability if I don’t allow my brain, body, and heart some time to be at rest and recharge. But it is so much harder to leave work at work when you’re working from home. You don’t have the physical boundaries that you do when you commute to a job. Usually, I get in my car, I drive home, I stow my phone away someplace, and I am done – ready to be with my family and off duty from work responsibilities. Without that boundary, I sometimes feel like I am half-working 100% of the time, and that’s no good.
So this week, while I’m on break from work, I am excited to be present and enjoy my time with zero guilt about other things I “should” be doing.
My other intention is just a variance on a goal I often set for myself. I’ve been working hard, for a long time, to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into my routine. Occasionally, it works and I love it. Often, I stick with it for a while and then I drift away from it, and that’s okay too. I’ve been trying to remind myself that mindfulness does not have to happen in just one way. You don’t have to be sitting on a yoga mat with your eyes closed to be mindful. You can simply bring full awareness to the activities of your day – washing dishes, reading a bedtime story, taking a walk.
But, here’s the thing: I am an input junkie. I am rarely doing the dishes mindfully, completely focused on the task at hand. I listen to a podcast while I do dishes; I listen to audiobooks while I fold laundry; I have music or TV in the background while I clean my room. When I wake up in the morning, it’s a matter of minutes before I’m reading my book or listening to a podcast.
None of this is bad. But I do think my brain could benefit from opportunities to rest – to stop aborbing new information and just be. I’m pretty sure I got this idea from the book Digital Minimalism, where Cal Newport talking about solitude as a time with no input from the outside world. So, not just being by yourself – but allowing your brain time with no input from others, whether it’s live and in person or via a book or podcast.
So, my intention for winter break is: allow for time with zero input. It could be five minutes – it could be twenty. The point is to give my mind a break from the constant stream of information and noise. For me, the easiest ways to do this are having writing time with no background noise or doing household tasks (dishes, laundry) without an accompanying podcast or audiobook. Not all day every day – not even close to that! But just little pockets of time each day when I give my mind a little solitude.
Happy winter break to all who get it – and happy almost new year to everyone else!