A glance at the calendar as the week began made it seem as if I had about three times as much work as usual. Deadlines for assigned articles; research for upcoming assignments; tasks to complete for the eighth grade graduation planning committee; more tasks to complete in preparation for the annual meeting at church. Plus the house to keep up, dinners to make, and the afternoon office job that takes me away from every other responsibility for twenty hours a week.
So I did something that seemed a little bit illogical: planned a bunch of weekday get-togethers with friends.
Well, it wasn’t quite that direct a connection. It wasn’t like I said, “Forget the deadlines; I’m just going to have fun!” It was just that when anyone suggested coffee, I accepted. And I didn’t cancel a longstanding lunch date with my friend Lisa. And when my friend Cindy and I needed to plan ticket distribution for graduation, I invited her over to the house, knowing it would take longer and be more sociable than if we just exchanged information on the phone.
When I get really busy like this, my attitude toward spending time with friends echoes Mahatman Gandhi’s quote about meditation: “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” When the logical thing seems to be to cut back on socializing, to cloister myself off and get writing done and pursue article leads and focus on the endless administrative tasks that typify all my volunteer work, I remember that I’ll get irritable and frustrated if I focus exclusively on the tasks at hand, and especially if I make myself spend time alone. Finding time to be with friends, on the other hand, will have an energizing effect and will nourish my spirit.
So I followed intuition rather than what seemed like common sense. I squeezed in coffee with Patti before I interviewed the selectmen; I took a walk with Jane after a morning meeting; I brought sandwiches over to Lisa’s house. I even spent two hours last Saturday enjoying an Indian buffet with my friend Anjali, though it was two hours I could have spent finishing an almost-overdue assignment.
Life gets busy, but it doesn’t need to be austere. Making time to be with my friends didn’t actually make it harder to meet deadlines; it made that part easier, because I felt rejuvenated after having a good talk or a brisk walk.
As always, it’s a matter of moderation. If I make too many plans, I’ll start missing deadlines and falling behind in all my work (and drinking too much coffee and eating too many lunches out). Most of us learn at some point in college that having too much fun is a bad idea for many reasons. But fitting in a little bit of socializing every day isn’t counterproductive. To the contrary, it’s the best way to ensure that I get back to work.