The Bane of Busyness: How to Carve Out Time to Carve Out Time?

We Seattleites like to work.  It’s documented, don’t cha know.  Just a couple of years ago Forbes magazine rated Seattle as the #1 Hardest Working City in the United States.

We’re so proud.  And tired.  And wishing we had more time just to carve out time for the other things we’d like to be spending our time doing.

And while some of that is tongue in cheek, there is a reality with so many friends and neighbors that I do life with that the post-recession economy leaves them feeling like they’re working more hours, with less support resources, than they ever have previously.  News flash: life is busy.


I’ve found myself in this space recently (have to confess – not the first time) and I found that when I paused to stop and catch a breath I suddenly realized I was feeling a bit disconnected with my neighbors. YES ME!  To note, I had a lovely December with several holiday gatherings with my neighbors – it was great. But as the calendar flipped to January and the days got darker and shorter, I more often found myself sitting in front of my computer than I did sharing a conversation with a friend or neighbor.

And it really just kinda sucked.

And I’m one of the lucky ones – I LOVE the work that I get to do. It’s just when I get done doing it at the end of the day, I head into the family portion of the day (dinner, homework and if I’m lucky maybe a Downton Abbey re-run on demand before I climb into bed), there isn’t a lot of time left over for social calendaring.

Add to that my ridiculous sense of perfectionism, and I found myself hemming and hawing about when would be a best time for a next coffee klatch, or inviting a neighbor for dinner, or emailing a neighbor friend to catch up.  Hemming and hawing because I get caught in the “when would be a perfect time to do…” mode and the reality is –  there is NO PERFECT TIME. PERFECT DOESN’T EXIST. EVER.

So what did I do?

Well, first I just decided to “CHUCK PERFECT’ and pull the trigger and send out an evite for a Coffee Klatch on a random Tuesday. At first I thought – “Oh, Geez, Who’s going to be able to come on a Tuesday?”  Then I thought, well, other significant happenings occur on Tuesdays: “Tuesdays with Morrie,” “Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday,” “Tuesday’s Child,” “Tuesday Morning” “Election Day (on a Tuesday) and of course “Black Tuesday,” (not a great Tuesday, but a famous Tuesday none none-the-less).

So Tuesday it was – and Tuesday was GREAT. 10 lovely ladies from my neighborhood stopped by for coffee and connection. And they didn’t care that it was Tuesday. Tuesday was as fine as any other day.

Carving Out Time to Carve Out Time

My neighboring journey is important to me. And life, by nature and by the fact that within months I’ll have a middle-schooler, is not going to get less busy.  At my last coffee klatch, in fact, we talked about how it’s a common struggle to pause long enough to get the other really important things in life on the calendar. And they NEED to get scheduled on the calendar, or busyness will always take over and the rest, the family play, the creative and recreational pursuits and hobbies will get squeezed out.

And so will connecting with my neighbors.

So here’s my new plan: I call it 3-Minutes on Sunday. 

Every Sunday morning – early – you’ll find me sitting in my wing back chair (or, my ‘throne’, as my husband calls it) enjoying the dark quiet of the morning drinking strong coffee before my family gets up.  A brief respite of  bliss. It’s the brief quiet before we are all ‘up and at ‘em’ and getting ready for church and the rest of the day.

I’ve decided to carve out 3 minutes during that quiet time, and ask myself:

  • Who would I love to spend some more time with?
  • Who have I not connected with recently?
  • Who might need a note, phone call or email?

And then grab my Surface Tablet and either send an email then, or schedule a phone call on my calendar.  Done.

It’s got to get on the calendar, just like any other appointment. In a busy world, structure for the important things is key.  Otherwise, another few months will slip by and I won’t incorporate the things that really matter.

And, instead of falling back in to my age-old-recovering-co-dependent-perfectionistic-savior-complex habits (I have issues) and feel the need to see EVERYONE I’ve missed in the last few months in one week, I’m simply deciding instead to pause, take a look around, tell myself “well, that couple of months didn’t go the way I’d planned,” and just welcome a little grace and head out in a better direction.

This Sunday. Every Sunday. 3 Minutes. Extend an Invitation.



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