by Sara Marchessault
Last week I was busy planning what I would do this week. You know the drill. The feeling of having projects, responsibilities and tasks that, as the Friday sun rose, you realize you did not make progress on. Out comes the calendar, or smartphone, and the effort to move all those tasks to the next week. Deciding what to do and when. Prioritizing. Juggling things around.
The plan is made and on Monday morning, it’s time to hit the ground running.
Then a phone call comes. Sometimes the phone call brings crappy news that upsets your week in a crappy way. When that happens, you rarely think about the things that you are putting off because you now have something crappy/sad/challenging that requires your attention.
It might be crappy, but it could also be something that really matters. A loved one in need. A friend who needs support.
Then there are the times when the phone rings and the news is happy. Something that you welcome into your week and are truly glad is happening. These events really matter too.
When this happens, do you embrace the happy event?
Or are you distracted by what this means for your to-do list?
It’s no fun when something great comes your way and you are too entrenched in what you think you “should” be doing that you aren’t able to appreciate that your latest distraction might be worth it. That it might be something that really matters.
Let’s be clear about something. The events that pop up and interrupt your week are not things that come with a twinge of annoyance. This is not the call that the director of the church Christmas pageant is in the hospital with the broken leg and they need you to take over. (Remember that, from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?)
That’s the kind of thing that you either say “no, thank you” to or you take on with a degree of annoyance. Or resentment. When you commit your precious time to these kinds of hiccups, you get distracted from what you committed to do for reaching your own goals and end up moving the items on your calendar again.
You can still feel good about helping others. That may be what matters most to you.
But sometimes, when the phone rings to interrupt your week, it’s a special kind of interruption. The kind where you get a chance to spend time with someone you care about. Or have an opportunity come up that you weren’t anticipating that is just too good to pass up.
When those kinds of interruptions arise how do you greet them? With excitement and gratitude? Do you see them as interruptions to your productivity? Are you distracted by your to-do list?
Part of enjoying what matters most is being able to embrace the opportunities that pop up in the midst of your busy week. Live in the moment and take advantage of this time to remember that life is about more than your to-do list.
It is about the relationships you have with people. And the time you take to make them even better.
What or who makes your heart sing? What voice would need to be on the other end of the line that you would gladly move your to-do list items to another week?
When we are presented with a chance to take a break and focus on what matters most, it’s a gift from the universe to take a step back and maybe even divert our attention so that when we come back to focus on our goals and tasks, we can do so with a renewed sense of vigor.
It may also serve to veer our attention away from that which may be keeping you stuck. An old friend comes to town and you laugh together. Your spouse surprises you with a midweek trip to the beach. You focus on your down time and the relationship building and when it’s time to go back to your commitment and to-do list, you are in a better position to see the solutions that move your forward.
The next time the phone rings with good news in the form of an ideal distraction, how will you respond? Will you focus on what matters most?
Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb: Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit joyfulbydesign.com or saramarchessault.com.