• One Minnesota Writer

52 Ways to Shift Your Focus

Shift #14: Take a Nap

One of the biggest losses of adulthood is that of lazy days, especially in the summer when, in Minnesota anyway, humidity presses down on everything. No one feels like working.

This morning, I sat outside in a comfy Adirondack chair to write a draft of this post by hand. It was 83 degrees, with 63 percent humidity. I could have been in the tropics. I couldn’t stand to be indoors with the hum of air conditioning a minute longer, even though I’m incredibly lucky to have it. It’s been hotter than hell here for the past few weeks. Eighty-three degrees was a nice cooling off. Still, I didn’t feel much like buckling down on any writing or editing projects. This has been an incredibly busy summer around here and all I really wanted to do was take a nap in that chair among the sounds of wind chimes and the birds that live in our back yard. My dogs were doing just that, stretched out full-length on the cedar boards of our deck. Naturally, that’s an easy thing to do when you memory is only about three seconds long and you have no working definition of guilt.

There are loads of advice columns that advocate time off when things get too busy. I’ve written on this blog about the joys of having recess, just like when we were all kids in elementary school. Vacations, coffee breaks, a walk to clear the head, a lazy drive on a back road….these are all ways to take a break, to regain focus that one can then take back to work. But I haven’t seen much lately about the simple act of taking a nap. It seems that when we take a break from our computer screens or other work, we’re still expected to be moving around doing something. And, often, moving around is a good idea if we’ve been sitting in a desk chair for a while.

But I think that right at the moment when we bang our heads against a problem, a sticky revision, a stack of rejections to send out on behalf of whatever publication we work for, that’s the moment at which a nap might be the perfect solution. I’ve been watching my daughter collapse into an early afternoon nap each weekday when she comes home from teaching violin at our school district’s summer orchestra camp. At 17, she has no qualms about just stopping everything and closing her eyes. What is it that prevents her mom from doing the same thing?

Nothing but some skewed expectation that I shouldn’t be doing such a thing on a Tuesday afternoon. And, so, today’s shift in focus in just this:

1. Step away from your computer/work that has piled up.

2. Find a very comfy chair.

3. Silence your cell phone (essential!).

4. Slouch down just a little.

5. Close your eyes.

Everything will still be there as you left it when you open your eyes later, with vision that had a decent rest.

The alleged fairies that get things done while we’re asleep are for a completely different kind of blog post.

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