The Balance between the To-Do List and Slowing Down

My house is a disaster. The laundry needing to be folded is piling up and the refrigerator is showing evidence that our home is practicing scarcity. My to-do list has been stacking up, but my ability (or inability) to prioritize the next urgent thing takes me further from accomplishing anything on my list. I am overwhelmed by my inadequacies and I slump over in tears.

It’s the day after I return home from a little R&R. The sunshine during my little trip brought joy to my heart. Restoration and perspective seemed to come hand in hand during my short trip. My friend, who I was visiting, and I walked for miles over the course of three days, talked about life and relaxed on the couch together, laughing over the comedy we choose to watch. I slept and I ate good food. I walked on the beach and photographed a baby bump. Everything was perfect. I cherished the time I was able to slow down.

Now, the day after I returned home, I start the day determined to help my soul stay refreshed. I make it about 10 minutes. I am quickly overwhelmed by my to-do list. Maybe my break from life created space for my brain to get back on track, but now I see more clearly what I haven’t accomplished. It also reminded me of the goals I have neglected. On the bright side, maybe slowing down doesn’t just help us rest, but it can also give us clarify around what is important when we are productive.

I wonder about the true relationship between productivity and allowing some space to slow down. There must be a balance somewhere. Giving myself permission to be productive is just as powerful as giving myself permission to slow down. My soul seems to need both to be centered. Carving out time for both appears to be key.

What is the balance for you? A little slow down time in conjunction with productivity? Or, do you blaze ahead until you have nothing left to give before you slow down? What if we do both? Finding the boundaries within our productivity, learning when to slow down and choosing to set both as priorities can help us build resilience into our every day lives. When stress comes, or the feelings of inadequacy over our to-do lists overwhelm us, finding our way back to the balance will be essential for a sustaining way of life.

Donald Miller talks in his course, “Hero on a Mission”, about productivity being best in the morning when our minds are the sharpest. He also talks about giving ourselves rewards (little dopamine hits) when we accomplish a daily goal or task. Rewarding myself is hard for me to do, but I am determined to reward myself with small moments of slowing down after accomplished tasks. I believe it will bring a better balance to my life.


Published by Stephanie Trowbridge

Follower of Jesus. Artist. Wife. Mother.

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