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. Hand-wash that blouse I got the grease stain on. 2. Dance barefoot to Dancin’ in the Street. 3. Spray carpet cleaner on the mystery spill on the stairs. 4. See how many different shades of blue (or grey) I can notice in the sky outside my window.
Scroll down and share some things you can put on your list!
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Thank you, as always, for this inspiring post.
From the moment I first met you, I knew that our brains worked in the same way.
I, too, often find myself thinking “What can I be doing?”
In addition to your 10 minute suggestions, may I humbly offer a few more.
1. Take a knee (or two). My Catholic upbringing taught me that kneeling is a time for prayer.
In doing so, you’ll open yourself up to the power of the Holy Spirit. Reflect for 10 minutes.
2. Take a yoga Child’s Pose ( Balasana). Face down on the ground, knees akimbo, arms outstretched.
This pose will not only stretch out your lower back but will give you the opportunity for reflecting
on and being grateful for God’s good earth.
3. Take a card. Gather up all the Holy Cards you’ve accumulated into one pile. Take 10 minutes and
randomly select a card. Recite the prayer on the back 10 times. Reflect on the picture on the front.
4. Take a moment (or ten). Give yourself permission to stop and rest your brain. Breath deeply. It’s ok.
Thanks, Linda! Your two last words are so easy to forget: “It’s OK.”
When one is caring for another person who is ill or disabled that ten minutes may be out of reach for long periods. In that case one can take satisfaction in a job well done or at least crossing tasks off the list. I took pleasure in finding out more efficient ways to accomplish tasks or to respond more quickly, not taking ten minutes but saving ten minutes. There is a famous quote from the movie Chariots of Fire: “You can praise the Lord by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection.” Great satisfaction can come from this.
Thank you rose, I thin is a good idea to 10 minutes to talk to Jesus, maybe that will help to do our tasks faster….
Have a beautiful evening
May God bless you and yours with peace
So difficult to pry our hands off the steering wheel of our lives to talk to Jesus. But you are right that it saves time — I don’t know how it happens, but as you say, we seem to get more done when we take time out to pray.
Whatba challenge! I like to
1. Meditate for 10
2. Write a note to a friend. I use to have my letter writing materials organized. You’ve inspired me to do so, again.
3. Read. I have 2 books I need to finish. I can do it 10 mins. at a time
Super ideas. The first has to do with checking in with God and yourself; the second, reaching out; the third, listening to the wisdom of others. A nice balance!
Great ideas for different seasons of life! I’ll try some of these tomorrow. Here are a few more:
1. Walk around the house thanking God for the everyday conveniences and comforts – the dishwasher is my favorite!
2. Go to the top floor of the building, find a window, and enjoy the vista.
3. Step outside for a breath – or gasp if your list is especially taxing – of fresh air.
4. Take ten with your partner or good friend to chat or text a message.
Love these, Barb! The first one is a great reminder of how much good I take for granted. Thanks for sharing them.