Discipline and Downtime


Last week I took a couple days off so I could have a four day weekend to work on a few writing/get organized projects. For all the time I spent at my computer, I still felt like I got very little done.

It’s hard laying out a plan for how I’m going to spend my time and then stick to it. I could spend an entire day doing nothing but figuring out how to fit everything into the following day, with all my steps and milestones. Then the next day, I get distracted by a messy kitchen, an interesting article I want to read, and a few funny videos on Facebook. I’m sure you know the drill, unless you actually are one of THOSE people who can focus and not be tempted by shiny, glittery things.

After my break, returning to my job felt like I’d crawled out of a cave and was blinded by the light. The work world felt odd and unnatural. I wanted to immediately turn around and crawl back into my oh, so cozy underground grotto.


Writing and music and photography and getting out with the dogs or my bike — that’s my real life, I thought.

But it doesn’t take long to get back into a job routine, especially after a few phone calls and emails that symbolically are like someone dumping a bucket of ice water over my head. During one “what the hell” moment on the phone, my line suddenly went dead in mid sentence. I called the person back on my cell phone and she said, “What happened? There was this loud screeching noise and then nothing. I thought, ‘Oh no! Maery’s finally blown!'”

Ah yes, they know…


When I do venture out during time away from work or home projects, I prefer to go where there is wildlife and trees and water. I like to experience things up close, the way you can on foot or by bike. I imagine if I stopped as frequently in my car to look more closely at something as I do when self propelled, the other cars wouldn’t like it very much. Actually, the dogs aren’t crazy about it either but will put up with it for the chance to get out and explore.


On our most recent walk, two swans decided to follow along with us for quite a ways. They obviously are used to people taking their picture and came in quite close. Unlike many things I see day after day, seeing swans is something that retains its thrill.

These kinds of distractions from my Git R Dun mode are good ones. They fill the well, let a gentle light into the cave, and meet my need to connect with something “out there.”

But what about you? How do you balance the desire to complete projects that are important to you with the just as important need to have time for fun and relaxation?

walking the dogs




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  1. Your question is a good one…as I approach the completion of my manuscript, I realize I’ve forgotten about fun. Will definitely make time for it in the coming days.

  2. I decided long ago to take it one day at a time instead of even making plans and then trying to stick to them but I don’t have a real job like you, either. All I can say right now while my world and days are turned upside down is that I love your writing, wit and photography so very much and happy that you find some time for all of the fun things.

  3. I haven’t managed the balancing act, much as i tell myself i will. Every time a distant deadline comes up i tell myself i’m going to balance so i reach the deadline rested and calm, all the balls levitating effortlessly as i casually juggle. Riiiigggghhht. Instead i “chunk”. I work in blasts, and play/rest in blasts. maybe it is ideal and the other way of being all zen-like is just a fantasy, for me anyway.

    1. I took a free course on “learning how to learn” which talks about chunking what you do and switching between focused attention and diffuse thinking. They especially talk about this in regard to working on something complex and difficult. That walking away from it and going for a walk or a bike ride will let your brain process the problem in the background and find the answer or ideas that you wouldn’t come up with if you just kept hacking away at it. So I think you do have it right.

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