I’ve been experimenting with Eisenhower boxes lately to sort out my to-do list, that small grid that helps its user determine what’s important (or not) and what’s urgent (or not). A few weeks ago, I noticed that “buy new jeans” had been languishing on my important-but-not-urgent list for some time. They’re just jeans, not a life-changing thing to tick off my list on any given Tuesday. But if you never find new jeans, then one day you wake up and don’t have any pants to put on. Important.
I dread clothes shopping in general, and jeans shopping is the worst of the worst. The options are overwhelming, finding a good fit is tricky, and it’s better done in person and not online. So on a recent weekday I blocked out a hefty chunk of time to find myself some new jeans for fall.
Long story short: I went straight to Madewell, found a great pair of jeans in twenty minutes, and suddenly, unexpectedly, found myself with an extra ninety minutes on my hands. I was supposed to pick a kid up nearby, so going home didn’t make sense. I hadn’t brought work with me—just a book. And it felt so great.
So great! I was giddy as I mentally catalogued what I could do in my hour and a half. I could get gas! Groceries! Go to the cleaners! Get a flu shot!
These are boring things. But having ample time to do them, without feeling rushed or squeezed or any of the various flavors of frantic I’ve experienced this fall, felt straight-up luxurious.
And so I filled my gas tank. I picked up a few things at the grocery. I got that flu shot. I went to the cleaners to pick up a dress that had been waiting for me for weeks. When Will texted and asked if I could buy something at the grocery, I didn’t complain, I said yes. Why not? I had time. And then I sat and read my book until my kid was ready for me.
It was mundane. It was glorious. And it made me realize what I’d been missing lately: time. Enough time. Unscheduled time. Unhurried time.
We’re heading into a season that many of us tend to pack pretty full, piling seasonal wants and wishes and needs on top of already full schedules. I love this time of year, but it’s tricky for me. I’m perfectly capable of attempting to exceed my capacity—physical, mental, or otherwise—any time of year, but I’m especially vulnerable to doing it in November and December. And while one weekday epiphany does not a lifestyle make, I’m entering this season with a new appreciation for what self-care needs to look like for me this season: unhurried, unscheduled, ordinary time.
Readers, my wish for you is that you have (make?) the time you need time to visit the grocery or the cleaners or just sit and read a book this season. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, strategies, and reflections on how you make this happen (or don’t) in comments.