In my previous post, Do you feel guilty when you rest?, I made a confession: I don’t rest well.
That’s because I’ve unwittingly trained my brain to view rest as an excuse to avoid work. Procrastinators are good at making excuses and “rest” became my go-to-excuse. But inwardly I knew it was just avoidance of work I wanted to have done but didn’t want to do.
Procrastinators are also good at looking busy. We’ll frenetically tackle all kinds of lesser things just to keep from doing the big and more important stuff. I’ve cleaned garage cupboards, organized desk drawers, filed old receipts, even reorganized and prioritized to-do lists—all powered by procrastination.
Any distraction, however small, becomes a new cause du jour. Stack up as many of these as you can and, before you know it, the day has ended. It’s only then that your enthusiasm for the task you’ve been avoiding returns: “Tomorrow, I’ll get on that.” You may even believe it this time. But for now, you look back on your day. While it may have been busy, you know it was busy work. Not good work.
It’s hard to have good rest without good work. I know that all too well. So I’ve created a checklist for myself—a way of knowing if I’ve had a time of good work or good rest.
For me, good work is when I can say “yes” to the following:
- Have I applied my energy on the things that really matter most?
- Am I using my gifts well, delegating what is best done by others and trusting them for the outcome.
- Have I worked diligently and pushed myself a little harder in some area, just as an athlete would to build more strength and endurance?
And I’m enjoying good rest when I can answer these affirmatively:
- Have I set a clear boundary on my work and given my full attention to something that recreates me?
- Am I free from anxiety, worry, or guilt when I am engaged in my time of rest?
- Does my time of rest rejuvenate my enthusiasm for my work and make me more grateful of others?
Good work and good rest don’t just happen naturally. Ironically, I have to work at it, replacing old work and rest habits with better ones. Reflecting on these checklists helps me develop the discipline of good work and good rest that I need. And that’s something I can’t afford to put off any longer.
What would you add to or change in my checklists?