I recently had a busy season. My partner and I got married at the end of October, and — gosh! — weddings take a lot of work to plan. Beyond that, I think I over-scheduled myself, making too many plans with friends and trying to accomplish too many things. It was a good season, things generally went well, and I enjoyed myself, but I knew I had taken on too much.
Since the wedding, my partner and I have consciously and intentionally been trying to do less. Having our wedding behind us is a huge help, a tremendous load off our shoulders, but we’ve also been making fewer plans, and I’ve been careful not to expect so much from myself. We’ve communicated this to our friends and family so that they know to expect less from us this season. These days, I try to have plans just one or maybe two nights a week. I still have my to-do list, but I also have my “winter” list, which reminds me to take time for activities such as baking, reading, and solving jigsaw puzzles. My partner and I plan to focus on doing less through the end of the year and possibly through the end of winter.
Doing less is nice. I have more time for watching TV, playing video games, and reading books, more time to appreciate stories, to pay attention to diverse perspectives, and to think creatively and independently. I have more time to cook new recipes, go outside, and journal, more time to try new things, to build good routines, and to reflect. I have more space in which to pray, to connect with the divine, and to appreciate the miracle that is life. It isn’t just nice — it’s life-giving.
Obviously busy seasons are a part of life, and although it can be a challenge to do so, we can live through our busy seasons with grace and joy. But these days, as my life is beginning to feel more spacious again, I’m realizing I want busy seasons to be the exception rather than the rule.
It’s not just that I’m happier doing less. Rather, I can already see how, by leaving more open space within my week, I am creating space and energy for more important things, I am more receptive to God, and I am opening myself up to further growth. I can’t help but think of two quotes from Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown:
“‘No’ creates the space for your ‘yes.’ ‘No’ also creates the space for other groups to do the things you can’t, and to do them with enough time and focus and expertise to do them well.” (236)
“As an individual, get really good at being intentional with where you put your energy, letting go as quickly as you can of things that aren’t part of your visionary life’s work. Then you can give your all, from a well-resourced place, when the storm comes, or for those last crucial miles.” (72)
We do a disservice to ourselves and to the world around us when we always keep ourselves busy, logistically and emotionally full and overflowing. There is virtue to be had in doing less, in giving ourselves space to listen, experiment, and grow, and in being available and well-resourced for when God’s call beckons. Are you remembering to practice this virtue?
“This Winter I Am Doing Less” by Cam Coulter is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.