It’ll only take a minute.
I once read a book on how to make the most of your time, the idea being to waste not a minute. Waiting for the kettle to boil? Tidy a shelf in a cupboard. Waiting for the desktop to load? Write that thank you note. Waiting for the start of a tv programme? Text a friend. Did you read that Superwoman book in the 70s, the one for working women, the one that promised that we could have a high profile job and a family, and be a wife who cooked, cleaned and home educated and entertained the children? This book, by a male American writer, was similar and I took its advice to heart, believing that I would achieve every task every day, letting nothing slip under the radar. I could have it all? Of course I could! I was so clever and efficient! At the time, I had a full-time teaching job, as did my partner, and we lived with our three children, my partner’s elderly parents, my own elderly father and three cats. My in-laws helped with housework. My father had cancer. I had a lot on my plate, but I wasted not a minute. When I was young, I learnt that lovely old Jesuit prayer: ‘Teach us Good Lord, to give and not to count the cost, to toil and not to seek for rest..’ There was nothing I couldn’t manage.
When my father died, I crashed and burned. And took years to recover, during which I finally had time to write my books. Did I learn from my mistakes? This morning, I caught myself breaking up bread for the birds while waiting for an egg to boil. Putting a load in the washing machine, as I passed through on my way to collect the post. Feeding the cat while hanging my coat up. If I’m not careful the old habits of ‘busy-ness’ creep up on me. It still happens, that old pattern of madness. I’ve learned to watch for it and to stop myself. Not to waste time, but to spend it differently. To sit, to breathe, to restore myself. To think, mind-wander. To day-dream.
It’ll only take a minute. Day-dream. Just do it.
Love Pauline x