November 8, 2019
The doorbell rang and I sprinted down the hallway and threw open the door to find one of my favorite people, Olivia, standing behind it with the most adorable smile on her face. She’s one of my best girls from college and I don’t get to see her all that often so every moment I do get is precious.
Immediately we were back into our flow like nothing had changed despite the length of time between our visits together. Being that I am always hungry and plan everything I do around food, I instantly asked if she wanted to go to brunch, because that is what we do, we brunch. Of course, she said yes and we started walking to my favorite little café about 10 minutes from our house. I forgot to mention this was on Tuesday, in the middle of the workweek. No, I don’t have a 9-5 per se, I can work from anywhere depending on the day and so I had said it wouldn’t be an issue for her to visit in the middle of the week. I would totally be able to make time. As soon as we started walking our delightful conversation was interrupted by my phone ringing. I looked at the lock screen and saw it was work and important work stuff. I told Liv, “I’m so sorry, but I have to take this.”
“Of course, go ahead!” She said. I took the call and worked as quickly as I could and hung up. We kept walking and made it to the restaurant, sat down and ordered. Livvy was telling me all about her time in LA before she got to me and what she had been up to. We were in the middle of a very intense story about a boy that we had to deeply analyze when my phone started buzzing again. This time it was my little cousin (and when I say little, I mean he’s 20 and taller than me). Given that I hadn’t heard from him in a year I thought I should probably pick-up because it was likely to be important. Turns out he had just arrived in LA from his new home in Australia and no one was available and he needed to use our Wi-Fi…
Liv and I dove back into the story, just as we were getting to the good stuff my noisy little phone buzzed again, it was my Daddy, of course, I was going to pick up. It was about work and again, important stuff about work. Things that needed handling. I got through the call hung up and looked at Olivia who had very patiently been sitting there waiting for me to finish.
“I’m so, so sorry, I don’t know what’s going on this day is just nuts,” I apologized.
“Please babe it’s okay, you are a working woman! And it’s the middle of the week! Don’t stress,” she lovingly answered. This back and forth didn’t stop all day. Every conversation was interrupted by calls and emails and texts. The constant stream never ended. Olivia was wonderfully understanding, but I was going nuts. It felt like Liv was holding one of my hands and work holding the other and both were pulling as hard as they could, neither through a fault of their own. Work didn’t know I had plans and Livvy was being so understanding of my work, but I was exhausted by 2pm. I didn’t feel like I was getting to enjoy one of my best girls, nor did I feel like I was really getting anything done at work.
I thought about being present. People are always talking about being in the present moment, so it must be the right thing to do. But I also thought, how in the world can people possibly be present when there are so many things that need to be done and heard and said all at the same time?
Then I recalled that, yet again, as so often happens in my life, much of the urgency and the stress I had created was in my head. There was not a single call, text or email that I received that couldn’t have waited 1 hour while we ate lunch. There was not a single message I got that someone else couldn’t have handled instead of me. (So, I may also have an issue with exaggerated self-importance as well…) And instead of feeling accomplished at work, or getting to enjoy my time with my girl, I just did both of them halfway.
A while ago I wrote about having a theme of the month. I talked about focusing your energy on one specific goal per month to feel like you could really accomplish something. I have decided that I need to break that down further. I need a goal of the hour.
Had I taken the full hour for lunch with Liv and just focused on her I would have been able to be present, listen well and be a better friend. Then had I said, “okay, I need an hour to catch up on work because it is the middle of the workday and as soon as I’m done, we can go and do something else.” I would have had an hour to get so much work done and I would have actually done a better and likely, more efficient job.
I have found in life there is really nothing that cannot wait 60 minutes (barring some very extreme examples). I have started thinking when I feel pulled in two different directions, okay, if this were my last day on earth which way would I go? Where would I take my next steps, what calls would I immediately answer? Who would I want to spend my time with? What would bring me the most joy for the next 3,600 seconds?
So, yes, a goal of the month is great, but when life is pulling you in two different directions ask the simple question, what is my goal for the next hour?
Olivia is one of the most brilliantly kind and patient friends I know. She sat and waited, she didn’t complain when she could have and she was beautifully understanding. Yes, this week has been one of the most stressful work weeks of my career thus far, but when I look back there wasn’t a single call that I couldn’t have set aside for a designated time. Set expectations, tell your friends when they’re visiting you during working hours, “yes, I cannot wait for you to come, but I am going to have to set aside a few hours here and there for work per day, but when I am with you, I will be with you 100%.” Or decide to get up before them or go to bed after them or maybe just for a few days, both. Make it work for you. But don’t try and be in two places at once. You will go nuts and you will feel minimally productive and like a crappy friend all at the same time and neither of those feelings is productive. No matter how understanding your friends are set these guidelines up for yourself.
Sixty minutes is all. Decide what you want to do for the next 60 minutes or if that’s too much, try 60 seconds. Break it down to where you feel comfortable. It’s just time.
Happy weekend my friends, I hope you get to focus all of your energy for 60 minutes at a time doing the most joyful things there are. xoxoxo