Slacking Off

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

This will be the last post of the year for Books & Such. We will resume daily blog posts on January 2nd, 2014. As you stop by and see this same post for some two+ weeks we want you to know we are deliberately slacking off. Yep. Deliberately.

Last week, our colleague, Rachelle Gardner, sent us a fascinating article by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries in the Harvard Business Review. In it he makes the case for kicking back. He says, “. . .slacking off — making a conscious effort not to be busy — may be the best thing we can do for our brain’s health. It is the incubator for future bursts of creativity.”

I love that. The incubator for future bursts of creativity.dreamstime_xs_7183740

I believe in slacking off. It’s been on my  to-do list for several years. In fact, last year it was one of my goals. I wrote, “Take ample time to dream and plan. This may be the most valuable thing I do. Otherwise I’m just shuffling papers and knocking out tasks.”

My spiritual goals reflected seeking that “white space” as well. Here’s what I wrote:

  • Explore deeper prayer adventures
  • Continue to spend time with God each morning.
  • Continue to maintain Prayer Journal
  • Continue to work on Life Plan (longings, goals)
  • Map out one “Day in the Desert” for reflection/ creativity every quarter.

I have to admit that busyness and travel scuttled my Days in the Desert this year, but this item will be back on my list for 2014. It is vitally important. If we don’t create space to imagine and to dream we will dry out. Our work product and our relationships will dry up as well.

As our Books & Such offices officially close for our Christmas break each one of us is committed to intentionally slacking off. Truth be told, we still work many days, doing those jobs for which we can never find time, but we recognize we need to turn off the computer, put down the phone and enjoy some electronic silence for a change. I’ve heard that when many families gather they now pass a basket for everyone to drop in their cell phones. What a great idea!

There are several things on which I will not stint over the holidays. I’ll take time to sit alone in a room lit only by the twinkling lights of the Christmas trees. As I prepare five different festive meals for family and friends, I plan to lavish time on the food, the table and the guests. I will actively enjoy each minute with people. I’ll set aside time to read. My daughters and I will have another of our annual all-night Jane Austen movie marathons. My husband and I will celebrate our anniversary. I’ll also celebrate my birthday. I’ll spend time at church including our most beautiful service of the year– The Candlelight Christmas service held from 11:00 to midnight Christmas Eve.

My word for the year was savor. I will close out 2013 by savoring the magic of Christmas and the people around me.

How about you? Will you be able to carve out any time to dream over the holidays? To recharge? How will you slack off? And on the other hand, what will you embrace this Christmas?


There’s much to be said for slacking off over the holidays. Click to Tweet

Our busyness can strip our creativity. We need a break in order to recharge. Click to Tweet


83 Responses

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  1. Debra Walter says:

    This is so true. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And now I’m going to sir down and savor all these comments! I wonder if those in our blog community have any idea how much we enjoy them? What a brain trust we have here.

    • Dear Wendy (and all you girls): Just a quick thank you for all your blogs this year. In my busy life, you are my little tiny break. Kind, encouraging and just always right there in my mail box for me. Thank you. Have a blessed Christmas and a good New Year. There is only one you and that you needs good care and love and yes…time.
      Warm regards,
      Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild

  2. I love the word ‘slack’. Back in my rock climbing days, and my sailing days, ‘slack’ meant there was no energy in, expended upon, or required of the lines.
    That rope had NOTHING to do. Nowhere to go. And no way to be of any use to anyone until pressure was applied from either end. Then, in order for the rope to be useful at ALL, the full strength of an external source was expended on that wee little rope to make it taut and obedient to the will of the source.
    How interesting that when we ‘slack off’, it is because there is a fundamental refusal to allow an external applied force to interfere with our internal passivity, our intentional idleness and our pursuit of pure peace.

    Thank you for the reminder to let our coiled and strained selves unwind and rest in the warmth of loved ones, against the strength of God and under the wing of His greatest gift.

  3. Your holiday plans sound beautiful. I’m never the queen of the remote … but every now and then, I’ll hear, “Let’s put in a movie for momma.” I know what is coming next … two choices … Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility! They never grow old.

    Slack … we have decided to have (gasp) sub-sandwiches for Christmas Day lunch. Totally slacking. But that will allow me to slow down Christmas Day.

    Dream? Most every night, I retreat to the bathroom for about thirty minutes of steamy, candlelit quiet time – time to talk with God, inquiring the path for that next article, the next path for my book characters.

    Embrace? My girls … and remember what a blessed gift they are, the years I begged God for them, and take time to play games, bake with them … be with them. I’m always with them, but my mind isn’t always present. I’m usually working in my mind. A technology break sounds lovely.

    Have a beautiful Christmas, everyone! I’m hoping for snow in Texas.

    • Jill Kemerer says:

      You’re not alone on the not always being present with your kids, Shelli. I try to be open and listening the hour they come home from school but I don’t always succeed! Enjoy this Christmas season!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Great words, Shelli. I think you are wise to choose places to ‘slack” during the holidays. We celebrate with gifts and family on Christmas Eve. Growing up we always made pizza for dinner so we could concentrate on gift-giving and each other. Happy times. . .

      Your girls will fondly remember the year they had Subway instead of mountains of dishes to do! Have the very merriest day.

    • Jeanne T says:

      Shelli, I love that your girls are your priority. Slowing down on Christmas Day makes for happier family members. 🙂 I hope your day is wonderful!

  4. Micky Wolf says:

    Beautiful, beautiful, Wendy. 🙂 Amen! And now I’m heading to the kitchen to bake a batch of cookies that are family favorites. Many blessings to all of you at Books & Such for a joyful, Christ-centered Christmas and peace-filled New Year 2014. 🙂

  5. Jeanne T says:

    I loved this, Wendy. I’m glad you ladies will take some time to “slack,” refresh and rejuvenate.

    The Day in the Desert sounds like such a good idea. What do yours look like?

    We’ve had an extremely busy, stressful autumn, and soon, we’ll travel to spend time with family. I’m still in busy-mode, but I’m looking forward to being in relax mode in a few days. I look forward to laughing with my boys, spending time with my husband and his family and enjoying God’s beauty where we’ll be.

    I’ve been trying to embrace the simplicity of celebrating Jesus and all He has done for me. As we spend time with family, I plan to embrace the moments of talking with teenaged nieces and nephews, hugging my own guys, and meditating on the amazing gift of Jesus.

    And yes, I intend to slack off on some things.

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Wendy, Janet, Rachelle, Mary, Rachel and Michelle!

  6. Being able to take a respite is very important, in that it allows one to go from a reactive mode to one which allows the development of initiative.

    I don’t really get to do it – caring for the 26 dogs in our sanctuary sets a routine that encourages constant action. But I try to take ‘five-minute vacations’, and they seem to recharge me well enough.

    • Jill Kemerer says:

      I give you so much credit, Andrew, for devoting your time to those precious dogs. Merry Christmas!

      • Thank you, Jill – that means a lot. They have helped me, too, through PTSD, and in giving me a reason to keep pushing when illness makes me want to quit.

        And if I may be allowed the honor of introductions (and if anyone wants to borrow some dog names), here they are –

        Ladron, Sylvia, Rapunzel (aka Pinzgauer), Denali the Happy Husky, Humphrey, Dukee, Megan the Tank, Mr. Independent, Bray, Red, Josie, Reebok, Mocha, Chris, Daisy, Daughtrie, Regis, Rufus Theodore, Yoda, Tammy,, Shelby, Bella the Wheelchair Dog, Labby, Duke, Elvis, and Bernard the Ninth.

        They, and Barbara and I, wish you a Merry Christmas!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Oh my goodness, Andrew. 26 dogs! You have your hands full. (I’ll bet your arms are full as well.) Have a wonderful Christmas.

      • Hands and arms full, yes.

        But in my heart there will always be room for one more lost and frightened small soul. Give love away, and you never run out.

        God bless, Wendy. Thank you for the dedication and faith you’ve brought to this blog, and to your clients.

        Merry Christmas!

    • Jeanne T says:

      We each take our breaks where we’re able to recharge. I’m with Jill. You amaze me—the bigness of your heart, your passion for caring for those dogs. I’m not sure I could do it, much less do it well.

      By the way, I think I may borrow a name or two for dogs in my stories. 🙂 Thanks for sharing them.

      • Please feel free to borrow a name or twelve!

        Daughtrie appeared in a story already, as ‘Mike’, a three-legged girl heeler. Elvis was there, too.

        Odd thing was – after the story was finished, Mocha (a Rottie) lost a leg from cancer. Life imitating art? Spooky!

    • One of my favourite memories of my trip in November was standing on the road, up on your mesa in the cold wind, watching Bella chase down the road after Barbara. To see where you found that poor little dog, and to know you and Barbara loved Bella back from the brink of death, all alone in a muddy ditch?

      Your 26 kids love you very much.

      • And we love them.

        When we picked Bella up, she was terrified, but deep in her her eyes grew a look…

        “Am I safe? Please, tell me it’s going to be all right…”

        There was hope, and love. No way I was going to extinguish those.

  7. I don’t think I could manage a quarterly “Day in the Desert” either, Wendy, but . . . RESOLVED: to do at least one “Day in the Desert” in 2014. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Note to self: don’t wait till the last minute and be stressed out about my de-stress desert day.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Oh my goodness, we are kindred spirits. I just know when I pull away for prayer and reflection it enhances every area of my life.

  8. Lori says:

    My slacking off time this holiday will include reading, watching an old movie (not necessarily a holiday movie)or two on TV, and going to see the new movies that are being released. I am looking forward to “Saving Mr. Banks” with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks and “August: Osage County” with Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep.

    Wendy, if you and your daughter are looking for something different to do, you may want to read Mia March’s novel “The Meryl Streep Movie Club” and watch some of the movies that are being referenced and discussed by the characters. This book is kind of in the order of the “The Jane Austen Book Club”.

    As for me I am starting my resolution a bit early and will begin to have a better prayer life.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds fun. You can’t help but have a great break if you are filling it with books and films, right?

  9. Sarah Thomas says:

    I know just the place for slacking come summer. A small deck overlooking a burbling stream where wildlife wanders, birds sing, and breezes whisper. Just don’t doze off alone, lest the bears nibble your toes.

    I have long been a big fan of conscious slacking. I get my best ideas when I’m engaged in nothing in particular.

  10. Lori Benton says:

    The Bentons have had a rather intense season since Thanksgiving week, caring for an aging parent who has needed much thought, care, and attention. Things are finally settling down this week, so I’ll have one whole day to slack off (Thursday) before my typeset pages for my spring release arrive on Friday. I’ll be working on them over the holiday until Jan 2. Since that means sitting in a comfy chair with something hot to drink reading my story aloud, bathing the thing in prayer, it will FEEL like slacking off.

    Wishing all you intentional slackers a peaceful, joyful Christmas season!

  11. This is a great idea, Wendy! I admit, it doesn’t feel like the end of the year if I don’t take time off work to slack off, as you put it. My husband and I don’t make any plans except on Christmas day. Then we read, watch movies, and sleep to our hearts’ content. There’s no better way to recharge and get ready for a new year.

    Merry Christmas to all of the lovely Books & Such agents!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Sounds wonderful– to snuggle in for the long winter’s nap. Hmmm. Maybe I should work some real down time into my break. Merry Christmas, Lindsay.

  12. Wonderful plans, Wendy. Happy birthday, and happy anniversary! And Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  13. Jill Kemerer says:

    I can feel your enthusiasm throughout this post!! Hooray!! And congratulations on all the biggies–anniversary, birthday, etc.. 😉

    I’m taking time off right now too. Yesterday I spent an hour at a local park. It had snowed eight inches over the weekend so I was all alone except for the birds. I had so much fun snapping pictures of them! It’s easy to think we don’t have time for silly things like bird-watching, but it brought me so much joy–how can we NOT take time for them?

    Have a wonderful Christmas! I’m going back and reading all the comments now. 🙂

  14. Thanks for sharing your plans with us, Wendy. They sound wonderful.

    I’m actually plowing through work right now so that next week I can take a break, as the girls will be home after Friday until right after the New Year.

    I’ve never really considered cutting back to be slacking off. For me, it’s more like taking the time to refresh my soul. The hubby purposely takes the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, too, so all of us can spend time together. Yes, I’ll cook, gift wrap, and decorate, but those are joyful moments to me; and I’m long past creating the “perfect” holiday. The only perfect I want is to have all my kids together.

    Wishing all of my friends here a blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

  15. Kiersti says:

    This is really good, Wendy…thank you. And Merry Christmas, Books & Such family!! May you all be bathed in His Emmanuel presence and peace throughout this season.

  16. Hey – how did you girls know my middle name is: Slacker?

  17. This is a fitting time to thank you all for your informative posts this year.

    Wendy, your word for 2013 was an excellent choice. May you all “savor” your blessings this Christmas.

  18. Planning a whole bunch of guilt-free reading in the next two weeks. Cup of tea. Christmas lights. Fire in the fireplace. Dulcimer music in the background.

    Deadlines approacheth. But they will not dictate. They’re not the boss of me. 🙂

    The Light of the World is.

  19. Wendy, have a great holiday, and revel in your down time!
    Very thankful for you and the agents at B & S.
    I’m choosing to embrace forgiveness this Christmas.

  20. Truth be told, I’m not able to slack too much as my other life is working with Hospice. But through my patients, I am able to participate in some of the deepest most meaningful holidays in my life as they enjoy every moment of love, celebration and joy together. Then, time with my family, a good book and some sleep!!! Have a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Oh, Linda, your work is the work of angels. Don’t slack. We’ll just pray that God gives you grace and peace as you care for those who will soon graduate to Eternity.

  21. Peter DeHaan says:

    May you enjoy your time slacking off!

  22. Anne Love says:

    All night Austen marathon–please list the movies you watch in order! I’d love to start this with my daughter!

    We also celebrate our anniversary, today in fact. But the schedule is too busy, we will celebrate with the children this weekend. We plan to take them to Fiddler’s Hearth–an authentic Irish Pub in South Bend.

    We will make family breakfast together and play lots of games. Quiet mornings with Christmas music, the smells of bacon, and the lights on the tree.

    Count blessings. Tell stories. Read books. Sleep. Laugh. See some movies.

    Blessings, and Merry Christmas to all at B & S!

  23. I’ve been thinking that I needed to do this! Thanks for making me not feel guilty about it!

  24. Mary Curry says:

    I’ve always known that slacking off was important to my mental well being, but that didn’t stop me from feeling guilty for doing it.

    Thanks for making me rethink it as a healthy choice.

    Happy New Year, Wendy and all of you and Books and Such.