“Your name, and the best news you have received in the last week.” This is what I was recently asked to share as part of an ice breaker introduction. I jogged my memory for the best thing that happened in the last week, and oddly enough it was the time that was originally placed on my calendar as a chore.
“Hi, I’m Sarah. This isn’t really news,” I explained, “but I am a Recruitment Specialist for my sorority, and I feel like this week I really just got my shit together.” Followed by some laughs, the leader of the group asked if there was anything in particular that I did to get a handle on my work. My eyes lit up. “So I made this spreadsheet,” I started, and I think I lost everyone after that. But that’s okay, the enthusiasm of how great it feels to organize my life carried through.
I think of this as admin time, something we would understand as part of any job description, but often forget to pencil into our own lives. Whatever the specifics may be for you, the time to recharge is now:
1. Honesty is the best policy: This quality time with my laptop and excel came after weeks of not giving my position and chapters the attention they deserve. Not so surprisingly, ignoring my shortcomings was not making them any less real. This catch up time allowed me to be honest with myself and others, and start working towards solutions. It’s only when we make the conscious choices to push through what doesn’t come easily that we get to enjoy that weight-off-the-shoulders/shit-together utopia. Shout out to Nicole Mardell for reminding me of this.
2. Healthy habits: Like anything, this reminds me of yoga and fitness. Once you know how good you can feel, it’s hard to go back. Since this revelation, I’ve made habits of being consistent with this out-of-work commitment, and creating routines the same way I would for work responsibilities. When something is top of mind, it’s much easier to squeeze in or block time off for the task. This week I tried a new routine: focusing on myself in a favorite Alchemy workout, then going to Spyhouse next door to send emails and finish reports. It was perfect. I was so focused that I tried to stay longer even when the coffee shop began playing “Closing Time,” and dimming the lights, until I was personally informed that it was time to go.
3. Be present: If something doesn’t relate to working out, it relates to recruitment. This is how my world works. This morning, when I was getting on the bus I sat down next to an older man, who was sitting crookedly, not by choice. I left a seat between us to leave room for his legs, but at the next stop a woman my age sat between us. The man explained to her he had to sit this way, and apologized for his legs being in her way. Instead of nodding and sitting quietly the rest of the time like all other 8:00 a.m. passengers, she assured him it was not a problem and that she would help him if needed. They talked the remainder of the bus ride, and because I was eaves dropping instead of actually reading my book, I know that they made a great connection. She found out what happened to his leg, heard stories of his motorcycle rides in California, and learned about his connection to Minneapolis. At the surface, they had nothing in common and had no reason to engage. These connections are only able to occur when we are present, not looking at our phones, and have enough inner peace to start seeing the world through others.
Inner-peace starts with the removal of inner-chaos, and ridding your life of the habits that nourish chaos. Had I not taken care of myself first by going to yoga this morning, would I have been present enough to notice how the old man was sitting, or their conversation? I can’t say.
What I can say certainly, is that it’s easier to disengage. It’s easy to go through the motions. But that’s not what recharging is about. I didn’t organize contact information or sit in a coffee shop because I felt like I had to, that wouldn’t be rewarding in the slightest. The first step in this admin time is remembering why you do what you do, remembering what you are missing when chaos is present, and most importantly remembering to only give your time to what could contribute to the best news of your week.