As a Catholic liberal arts institution, my college has time set aside every Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m for “Sacred Hour”. The Norbertine’s value contemplation, and in keeping with that, Sacred Hour is a time for prayer, meditation, reflection, relaxation…pretty much anything you want except for work. No meetings can be scheduled, non-essential offices close, and the campus all but shuts down for one hour per week. Well, sort of.
Turns out that getting people to shut off or shut down for one hour is hard. With all of the talk about creating “work-life balance”, you’d think that we’d be thrilled with an institutionally-mandated break in our day and our week. Where we’re getting paid to do nothing. And there’s no expectation that we’ll have to “make up” the time. But increasingly, we’re having to *remind* people to leave their desks. Cancel their meetings. Not hold office hours or exam make-ups during this time.
Now, I must admit — I’m one of those people who strongly encourages my team to take advantage of the gift of time that Sacred Hour affords us, but spends far too much of it at my desk quietly working. It’s not that I don’t value the time. And it’s not that I don’t think it’s important. I do. It’s just that I am someone who has a really difficult time shutting down. Heck, I have a difficult time even *slowing* down.
And yet, taking time for reflection is every bit as important to being effective in your job as doing the work itself. Maybe more so, in roles where thinking strategically — about the big picture and long term — is a critical component of the job. And maintaining healthy body and mind — through exercise, sleep, eating, meditation, and more — helps us focus more, stress less, think clearer, and just generally be more balanced in the job itself. Or at least it does for me.
Today is Wednesday, and once again I spent the hour between 10 and 11 at my desk. But this time, it was a little different. Today I spent my time thinking about and writing this blog post, a form of personal reflection. So this Sacred Hour, I struck a balance. And isn’t balance what life’s all about, after all?