How to measure a day

Like a pile of lima beans looming between a child and dessert, this week feels bottomless.

I am staring at the pile of green, grainy blobs and choking them down. The first one, labeled “Monday,” expanded exponentially in my mouth, making chewing a 24-hour chore. The “Tuesday” bean is stuck in my throat, and the contents of two waterbottles have failed to dislodge it.

If the next four days are lima beans, the fifth is my apple pie. Sunday holds the promise of something sweet, but the anticipation-induced anxiety is unbearable.

You know that cheesy movie scenes where the camera zooms in on the second-hand of the clock, and it ticks at an excruciatingly slow pace? Yeah, that doesn’t seem far-fetched to me anymore.

As I’ve tried to fill my calendar with anything that will distract me from the 432,000 ticks that separate me from Sunday, I’ve come across an interesting question: How do I measure a day?

At the moment, I’m trying to stuff my schedule full of daily-grind fluff. Is there a meeting I can attend? I don’t know anything about B2B marketing, but I’ll sit in. I just bought a gallon of milk yesterday, but what if a find a dozen kittens in a cardboard box and need to nurse them back to health. I’ll make a trip to the market tonight. I just love cleaning baseboards. The monotony is exhilarating, no?  I’ll put that on my schedule for 6:03 p.m.

As I’ve attempted to make time pass more quickly by injecting busyness for busyness sake, I’ve realized my metrics for measuring a day need a makeover.

I’m given 24 hours, and I can choose how to spend and measure those hours. I can evaluate the successfulness of a day based on how many to-do items I checked off or how many emails I responded to — or how many dust bunnies I annihilated. But do those metrics reflect what really matters to me?

Am I filling my day and measuring my day based on what I value most?

I value creativity. Am I making time in my day to write or dance?

I value my family. Am I calling my sister on a regular basis or sending a text to my brother?

I value my faith. Am I taking time to pray?

I value my friends. Am I looking for ways to serve them?

Meetings, emails and chores are necessary, but they are a depressing way to measure a day. Their impact is fleeting.

One Zumba class. One lunch date with a friend. One phone call to my mother. One prayer. One laugh.

These are the best ways to measure a day.

Those are the metrics that turn even lima bean days into apple pie.

  • Hands Free Mama

    Oh Emily, your writing just blows me away. The way you illustrated getting to Sunday (dessert) by describing the days of the week as lima beans is brilliant!!! I wish I had an ounce of your witty eloquence!

    Now on to the message. Powerful stuff. “Am I filling my day and measuring my day based on what I value most?” That is a question I need to ask myself every single day. As I write my book, I tend to get so focused on completed another chapter that I forget what the essence of each and every page … grasping what really matters! Thank you for giving me a little shake–in such a breath-takingly beautiful way–to think about how this day would measure up. Best part of the day was putting away my manuscript to play a card game with my 6 year old. That smile wins every time.

    Thank you, friend.

    • Emily

      You’re so sweet, Rachel! Your blog posts always encourage me to focus on what matters most. I’m so grateful for our online friendship :)

      • Hands Free Mama

        Me, too. :)

  • Shauna

    I love this! I hope your apple pie turns out as sweet as you hope it to be. I think it could….October is the month ;)

    • Emily

      I just love you, Shauna! This is turning out to be an interesting October for all of us :)

  • Lizejane

    Ms. Ems,
    I’ve said it before…and I will say it again. You have a gift. You are a writer. Not just a grammarian…a good one at that, but a true through and through writer. When our book is published, it will say written 99.9% by someone who can write and 0.01% is by another person who can’t, and just talks her way in or out of anything. We are a perfect team, unbalanced…yes. crazy….absolutely. impatient…..sure. But totally meant to find each other.

    • Emily

      You are my life saver, Lizzy Jane. I wouldn’t be able to make it through these lima bean weeks without you!

  • Dana Briggs

    Dear Emily,

    You don’t know me at all, but I wanted to comment and tell you how wonderful I think your blog is. I too am from Rexburg and went to BYU-Idaho, where your dad was my stake president while there. So that is how I originally happened upon your blog, because your mom or dad mentioned it one time while talking. Anyway, I just have to say–I connect so much with what you write about and it has been such a comfort to know that I am not the only one who feels these things. For example, with this particular post about measuring a day…I had no idea that other people sometimes have to try hard to fill each day and that sometimes every minute seems like forever, or that even the things we are filling our days with aren’t the ultimate goal or what we’d really like to be doing. Other people make it look so easy, I thought I was the only one who struggled with that! Another example was your post about enjoying the season’s and not worrying that we are ‘late’ for our lives. Yet another post that I loved was when you talked about how even though dating can be so awkward and downright awful at times, we do it and put ourselves out there because we understand the bigger perspective…having a family is what heaven is all about. And the post that you wrote about running away to home, I have those feelings basically every day. So thank you for sharing your talent, your insights, and your wisdom. You are an example to me that I can keep going and that I am not alone in some of the things I am feeling or struggling with. Thank you!

    • Emily

      Thank you so much, Dana! This is one of the sweetest comments I’ve ever received. I so glad that topics I have shared have touched you. I’ve long been caught in the trap of perfectionism, and I hesitated to present anything but sunshine and rainbows here. However, I’ve come to accept that struggles are a part of the journey, and if in sharing struggles we can lift one another, the vulnerability it requires is more than worth it. I am honored that you have read my posts and connected with me!