What I’m listening to: Cold Shot by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Yowza, what a week! I started last week thinking it was going to be a more relaxed pace. Not a chance — new projects came in, deadlines piled up (all on the same day, of course), and I emerged from the study later than usual. I still stuck with my exercise routine — after all that sitting, I needed to move — but it happened later and later as the week wore on.
That’s why you got one post out of me last week. My time was stretched to the breaking point.
This week, fingers crossed that the light workload stays light. I have three projects to finish, one to revise, and hopefully some time to breathe in between.
Maybe I’ll have one of those days where I sit down with good intentions and six hours later, I’m still sitting and those good intentions have dissipated. You know the type of day I’m talking about. You spin your wheels, delay, avoid, surf…and soon its 3 pm. And you’ve done nothing.
Paula Hendrickson has had these types of days, too. And she was generous enough to write a post for us about it. Paula says it’s okay to do nothing. In fact, we freelance writers need the time to relax without guilt.
The Value of Do-Nothing Days, or What I Learned From My Puppy
By Paula Hendrickson
Lazybones. That’s what my grandma called us kids if we were still in our pjs or watching TV when she came over. Grandma—who grew up on a farm, the daughter of Swedish immigrants—was used to hard work. She and her siblings recounted times their father overworked their draft horses only to make his six kids pull the plow. Compared to Grandma, the Energizer Bunny was a slacker.
That kind of work ethic (or obsession, if you choose) shaped Grandma and, like it or not, she passed it down to her children and most of her grandchildren. To this day, if evening rolls around and I haven’t accomplished a single thing I feel a sense of shame or regret. I’ll trace the day hoping there’s at least something to be proud of. Yes, it’s also why I love crossing items off to-do lists.
It’s taken a long time to stop pushing myself to work evenings and weekends on projects that aren’t tight deadlines or huge priorities. Lori and some others here have reminded me that unless there’s a rush fee attached clients aren’t paying for my free time, so why offer it?
The value of lollygagging (my Dad’s word for being lazy) hit home a couple weeks ago. That Saturday morning I was certain I’d knock a lot off my to-do list: yard work, laundry, cleaning, listen to the Hamilton sound track while sewing a new slip cover for the sofa, read, and maybe make something fun for dinner. I threw a load of laundry into the washer before checking email, Twitter and Instagram. That’s when I realized it was I Love Yarn Day, so I knocked out a post for my long-neglected personal blog and decided to crochet at least one row on my cousin’s afghan.
While I crocheted my pup, Sadie, stretched out on the footstool by my feet and played with her doggie bone. As soon as I set the afghan aside, Sadie hopped onto my lap and curled up for a snuggle. Not wanting to disturb her, I burned through the DVR then flipped from channel to channel hoping to find something entertaining to watch. I don’t even remember what I watched (probably because I was playing games on the iPad at the same time). Sadie didn’t stir until dinnertime.
I fed Sadie and took her out. She played while I ate dinner, but the moment I sat down she jumped right up and snuggled in for another nap. That’s when I knew I wouldn’t accomplish a darn thing that day.
Thanks to the work ethic instilled by Grandma, I felt guilty. An entire day had passed and all I had to show for it was an unfolded load of laundry, two rows of crocheting, and one blog post. But you know what? I was relaxed.
It’s funny how a brief respite can refresh your mind and spirit. By the time Monday came around I was ready to go. I wrote a column, edited five blog posts for a client, and made major strides in getting 43 entries written for another client’s annual round up.
In fact, Wednesday—the same day Lori asked for a guest post—I should have been working on executive bios for yet another client, but decided to bake cookies instead. (Don’t panic. The deadline isn’t until December.) As I was preparing to mix the dough I told Sadie, “I know I shouldn’t be doing this when there’s work to do, but I work better under pressure anyway.”
Productivity involves more than putting your nose to the grindstone. It requires balance. We all need to be a lollygagging lazybones now and then, whether that means taking a do-nothing day, quitting work a couple hours early to bake cookies, or doing something totally unrelated to work. The key is not to feel guilty about it.
When was the last time you had a do-nothing day? How did it make you feel?
When not writing for the likes of Emmy, Variety, PromaxBDA Brief, Xap Corporation, and LimitedRuns.com, Paula Hendrickson is probably baking, knitting, reading Lori’s blog, or cuddling with her rescue pup, Sadie. Paula finally entered the 21st Century this summer when she launched HendricksonWrites.com. If you’re brave enough, follow her on Twitter @P_Hendrickson, or Instagram @Paula1Knit2.