Eating lunch last Saturday, I looked out my picture window to see the neighbor boy, Avery, shooting hoops in his driveway, wearing a backpack. I wondered why he was wearing a backpack. A few minutes later, his mother came out and called him to the car. He got in and they drove off.
Avery knows what some of us have forgotten: that there is true freedom of spirit in grabbing 10 minutes between duties to do something restorative. It could be spending a few minutes in prayer, it could be going outside for air, playing with the dog, or enjoying a piece of dark chocolate. Anything to break our routine and to remind us that we are children of God, born for freedom. For Avery, it was perfecting his 3-point shot.
Management expert David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, advises us to make a list of things we can do in 10 minutes. Then, when we’re in between duties, or waiting for the next meeting to start, we can go to our list and make good use of that time.
What’s in it for me?
Two good things result. First, a short nap or a walk outside will charge our battery for whatever’s next. Second, even if the thing we do is a “duty,” like finally putting the new sticker on our license plate before it expires, we feel freer because that thing-to-do isn’t weighing us down anymore.
The vice of sloth (which includes procrastination) plagues many of us. Surprisingly, the virtue that cures sloth is love. That is, if we love God more, we’ll be more eager to do what he asks of us. Instead of seeing our to-do list as a burden, we’re more likely to see it as our way of serving God today. (And God loves a cheerful giver!)
On the other hand, if we find ourselves wasting time with nothing to show for it, we feel the opposite of free. The emotional rut just gets deeper, and happiness slips farther and farther away.
But filling our “in-between times” with something on our list of quick things we want to do can keep us from being mentally crushed by what we have to do.
We can build up our love of God by including the following three things on our “10-minute” list:
- Open the Bible anywhere and meditate for a few minutes on what you find.
- Pray a decade of the Rosary, asking Mary to share with you the peace of the Holy Spirit, her spouse.
- Listen to music that takes you away from your routine and lets your thinking-brain rest.
Stress comes when I start believing I’m in charge of making things happen and in charge of the results. That’s a frame of mind that can make it extra hard to reach for my 10-minute list. What? Give up control? Do something fun? Thanks, but I think I’ll just stew instead!
That’s when I know the 10-minute list is my lifeline to the sip of peace and freedom God is offering me. And it took a 14-year-old boy in his driveway to remind me of that. As the psalmist sang:
We escaped with our lives like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare was broken,
and we escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.
My new list
Here are a few things on my new 10-minute list: 1. Do something about the mystery stain on the stairs. 2. Dance barefoot to Dancin’ in the Street. 3. Order husband’s birthday present. 4. Go outside and actually enjoy the flowers I planted this spring.
Scroll down and share some things you can put on your list!
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