I love getting things done. I love the feeling of coming to the end of my day, and listing out all the things that I was able to accomplish in the last sixteen hours.
So when I wake up in the morning, without a clear plan for how I am going to spend my day, a little bit of me panics. Wasting time and being bored are two of the worst feelings for me.
I have a world to change, and I don’t have time to sit around passively waiting.
Reading The In-Between by Jeff Goins, Jeff talks about embracing the moments in between the exciting events, or the slow and boring times.
I’m a computer science student with big dreams. I want to create web and mobile applications, and offer my services of designing websites. This morning, I woke up with a couple projects on my mind that I wanted to finish, but I was desperately waiting on other people to finish their part. I spent about two hours writing code, and then decided that I couldn’t really make any more progress until my partner did his part.
I went downstairs, and I took a break. I sat on the couch, reflecting on my life, relationships, and education. I took some time to sit and reflect, casually played some guitar, and let myself just relax within the presence of the warm morning sun. I noticed how the sunlight was piercing through my bay window, creating rays that illuminated the dust in the air.
Until a thought popped into my head about getting things ready for my move back to school next week. Quickly, I scurried back upstairs in order to start putting things together, cleaning and organizing the things I had to move. Then I thought about my blog, and the next posts that I would write, and quickly opened my evernote to jot down my ideas. I began hustling through blogs, going through websites and reading all the new content on my favorite blogs. I checked Medium, Quora, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter for any new updates.
Then my mom called me for lunch. I told myself to take a deep breath, and that I would go downstairs and enjoy lunch. That I would take it slow, and not be preoccupied with the things that I wanted to get done.
I had a nice conversation over lunch with my mom, which was quickly drowned out by thinking about the code I was writing for my web application.
“Daniel, calm down and rest, Listen to what Jeff is saying about embracing the moment.”
I spent the afternoon talking to a friend, reading a part of the Bible together and just taking it easy. Then I took a nap.
Going as fast as you can and being as productive as possible seems like such a essential and powerful mindset, especially for a college student in 2013. But through Jeff’s book and other mentors and friends in my life, I’ve been learning what it means to slow down and appreciate the moments that appear mundane and boring.
Through the events in my day bringing me back and forth between restlessness and restfulness, I realized the value of slowing down and being present in the moment. I had already been learning about rest for the last couple months or so, but I constantly found it and still find it difficult to rest sometimes.
One thing about rest that I am always reminded of is the creation story in the book of Genesis. Adam, being created on the sixth day, had the sabbath as the first day of his life. The very first day that Adam spent in the world was a day of rest. Nothing else mattered. He wasn’t forced to go to work tending the garden right away, because God was teaching him how to appreciate the in between times.
In designer’s terms, negative space refers to the space around and between the subject of an image or design element. It’s often the white or blank space that subtly adds meaning and significance to the positive space, or the subjects in focus. If the subject of your life are the big events, the negative space is the time and space in between such events. And the way that the negative space is presented drastically effects the appearance and quality of the subject.
Everything will try to fight for your time, whether it be friends, family, work, or hobbies, choosing to intentionally say no to certain activities will help you to create negative space in your life that will help you to be in the present, and focus on the things that you really care about.
It all sounds fine and dandy, but I’ve found three main questions to answer when thinking about slowing down.
- What really matters to me? and why does it matter?
- What am I doing right now that is distracting me from what really matters?
- What is the most significant or relevant thing that I should be focusing on right now?
The answers to these three questions will help you begin to process how to slow down by figuring out what really matters to you and what is worth your time.
There is value in the things that you fill your time with, but sometimes there is greater value in what you choose to not fill your time with.