By Laura Kosann
Call it warmer weather, coming off a holiday weekend or summer in the city, but lately I’ve been in the habit of chronically looking forward to things. After the weekend ends, I send texts on Monday about the next weekend’s plans, or emails about itineraries for a possible September trip, and I’ll surf the web for new spots to make dinner reservations at two months before the occasion. Messages like “I can’t wait for rooftop rose Saturday!” Or “let’s do storm King in July!” boomerang back and forth Monday to Wednesday in my endless group chains, and phrases like “Almost there..” Or “can this week please be over?” Clutter my inbox and outbox on Thursdays and Fridays.
While I’ve always found planning things to look forward to is a sign of optimism and (dare I say) joie-de-vivre, I also find when I’m chronically looking forward to things rather than – not to sound super cliche – live in the moment, it means I need a reset. For me, this reset first and foremost means throwing back to my semester abroad in Paris, where I watched in bliss as people accompanied long Monday lunches with red wine, or started a Thursday with a Pain Au Chocolat sitting in the Luxembourg gardens. I have to remind myself not to compartmentalize my life into “down time” and “work time” but rather mix and match them in order to remain balanced.
We’re all guilty of these polarizing extremes in one form of another. We have cheat days versus cleanse days, work weeks versus weekends, weeks we cut out our favorite thing vs weeks we’re ‘allowed’ it. If you think about it, this mentality makes 50% of our lives something we get through and the other 50% what we’re trying to get to. What a waste of 50% of your time.
I find when I start to do things meant for down time during my supposed work time, it can completely change the tone of a weekday. While we aren’t Parisians – so the two hour weekday lunch accompanied by a glass of red wine is not necessarily realistic, and they’ll never make emailing outside of work illegal here (though we sometimes wish they would) – there are small things we can still do.
At work, if it’s a slower day, you might spend some of the day reluctantly surfing through Facebook and Twitter feeds, texting your friends that you’re bored while still being hyper aware you’re at work. That 15 minutes or an hour is a wash anyway, so spend it doing something you associate with down time. What can you do at your desk that you love to do on weekends? For me it’s sitting on the couch listening to jazz music perusing recipes, scrolling through inspiring imagery or reading travel content. So rather than spending an hour staring blankly at Facebook election posts and sending texts, I consciously dedicate that hour to putting on my headphones and reading that content that I associate with the weekend. If it’s a walk to the river (if your office is close enough) skip the gossip session at a coworker’s cubicle where you complain about work, coworkers or your boss, and take a 45 minute walk there and back. If your work day is obnoxiously busy, and you love going to Citarella on Saturdays for your favorite fresh fruits, cheeses and charcuterie, do it on a Thursday night and allow yourself a bit before dinner.
Or your mornings: How do you spend them? I find my mornings before 9 AM are often spent catching up on emails with a morning show in the background informing me about everything from Isis to Donald Trump. But why not take that half hour, enjoy a cup of coffee and play a Nancy Meyers movie while I get ready? The emails can wait, and there is always time to catch up on current events.
In fact, I find that when I create down time moments in my work time, I naturally feel inclined to incorporate work time moments into my down time. I may just take a half hour and catch up on emails on a Sunday, or do a deep dive into current events on a Saturday morning, and maybe I eat a tad healthier Friday night because I got a my dairy fix Thursday night.
When I don’t designate or define my time I don’t resent 50% of it. So while you can look forward to your Fourth of July trip, take time to look forward to today at 4 pm, when you take 25 extra minutes and go sit outside at your absolute favorite lunch place. Or maybe 3 pm, when you watch Inside Amy Schumer at your desk. Or maybe 6 pm, when you go to the Leadbelly for oysters and champagne to celebrate the simple fact that it’s 6 pm on a Wednesday.