I use a day timer, and at the top of each page of the daily calendar, there is a quote for the day. I read one today that left an impression on me. The quote is from Mahatma Gandhi: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Every time I read it, it makes me pause and reflect for just a second. “Why am I pushing so hard?” What is the rush?” Everywhere around me, nobody has enough time. Too many things to do, and too little time. We are all running at high speed, like we’re in a race to get somewhere. The problem with this is that there is no finish line. What are we trying to win here, anyway?
Because it’s December, there are a few days when we get to slow down. They’re called holidays. But when you’re self-employed, holidays don’t always mean a lot. Because of these holidays, remodelers frequently have to work harder than usual just to get remodeling projects finished before the holidays roll around. At the same time you’re trying to wrap up these projects, there are family demands that come with this time of year. There are home projects that have lingered on for a few months or longer, and a spouse that wants the same thing as your customers: can you get this finished so that we can get this mess out of the house? There are presents to buy, holiday parties to attend, and if you have kids, there is a list of activities that you want to enjoy with them. The question that comes up for me, and for most people that read this column, is how am I going to find the time to get it all done?
As I’m sitting here writing this, I don’t have any sage advice. I usually put my business first, and then try to deal with all my other demands in the time that’s left over. I don’t want to do that this year. I want to enjoy the holidays this year. I’m sure there is more to this time of year than being tired and irritable. I want to slow things down, but I’m not sure how to do it. I decided I’m going to get some help to do this, to find an expert who is very clear about what is important, and can be very honest with me about what I need to do. To my great surprise, I found that expert living in my home. He is my 4-year old son, Ryan, and he’s got a lot of this figured out. There are certain things he really understands.
He is very clear about his priorities. The first thing he addressed was my use of the telephone. I’m in the habit of taking business calls after dinner and talking for 20 or 30 minutes. Now, when the phone rings after dinner, he looks at me and says, “Daddy, no phone.” There are some other behaviors he’s quietly asked me to observe. When he gets up in the morning, he likes to watch television, but he doesn’t like watching it alone. He wants to sit in my lap, or his mother’s, and this is how he starts his day. When he gets home from day-care at the end of the day, he wants a snack. Cookies and milk are fine. After that, he’s ready to play. He loves presents. It doesn’t matter if it costs $1, or $100; the delight that comes from an unexpected gift is a very exciting thing. When he is tired, he sleeps. When he hasn’t had enough rest, he gets irritable and moody, and he can’t enjoy himself anymore. A good night’s sleep is the only real cure.
My in-house expert has issued the following recommendations to anyone wishing to enjoy the upcoming holiday season: Always have cookies and milk in the late afternoon. They taste good. Give little gifts to people when they don’t expect them. You will make their day. When you’re tired, go rest. It will change the way you see the world. Lastly, have someone sit in your lap for a few minutes each day. Better yet, find someone who will let you sit in his or her lap for a short time. It will take your mind off business, and remind you of more important things. My consultant is happy to answer additional questions, but I can’t tell you when he’s available for calls. “Daddy, no phone.” Happy holidays.