Generally speaking, I try to keep my weekends free to spend with my family. Of course the opportunity to lead the occasional workshop or teacher training session finds its way onto my calendar, and from time to time a client will need to move our standing session to a weekend, but my preference is to be as available and present as I can be for my husband and baby girl.
The past weekend, however, was the exception that makes the rule. Both days I had a flurry of professional commitments that infiltrated the usual family weekend highlights of farmer's marketing, attending church, and cooking and baking for the week ahead. In an attempt to maximize the productivity of my time away from family I scheduled the obligations in back-to-back-to-back blocks. On Saturday this worked beautifully - minimizing my time away from home and staying on task while out and about. On Sunday, however, I arrived at the home of a client for my second-to-last appointment of the day only to learn something had come up, and he needed to cancel the session.
"Now what?!" I thought. I hadn't planned for any down time, and as a result, I was without a computer, notebook, or even a pen I could use to redeem the time with an impromptu work or writing session. The window of time was not wide enough to go back home, and the neighborhood in which I found myself wasn't conducive to any spontaneous errand running. Frustrated by my lack of contingency planning and inability to repurpose the time in a productive way, I began to make my way in the direction of my final appointment. When I arrived, I realized I had spent the past 15 minutes fretting about something that was essentially a gift. It occurred to me I didn't need to redeem the time or justify it through some specific accomplishment. I could instead just enjoy it.
So I found a shady spot to sit and called a dear friend with no agenda other than to hear about her weekend. When we hung up, I sat still and watched the world go by, breathing and meditating on the moment and the rarity of sitting still, without a plan.
Next time you find yourself with unexpected time on your hands, can you let go of the self-imposed need for productivity and simply observe yourself and your surroundings? Can you see a missed appointment as an asset rather than a liability?