Last summer I bought an electric lawnmower. When I went to Lowe’s I wasn’t planning on choosing an electric one but the clerk that assisted me was a fan (no fumes, no trips to the gas station, no tune-ups, much quieter) and convinced me. The one feature that gave me pause was the fact that the battery would only last 45 minutes before it would need recharging. This seemed a major drawback. I have a small house on a quarter acre corner lot; meaning, most of my property is grass! It takes me several shifts to mow all of it. Sometimes I would push myself and mow for 1 1/2 hours straight which usually got me through the front and sides and a tiny bit of the back and then I would finish on another day. So the 45 minute time constraint seemed potentially onerous. The salesperson assured me the battery needed just 25 minutes to recharge so I could conceivably return to mowing, with just a short break, if I so desired.
Here’s what I’ve discovered. Having a 45 minute time limit is liberating! No longer am I able to push myself to get as much done as I can stand. Now I’m forced to stop when the light starts blinking red as there’s no arguing with a drained battery! Also, knowing that I have just 45 minutes at a shot focuses me on the task at hand in a way that feels different from when it was up to me (or the lack of light) to decide when to stop. I find that I’m less likely to feel resentful that mowing is taking up too much of my day. And when I’m actually mowing, I feel more present and relaxed. Sometimes I do recharge the battery and resume. But other times I move on and leave finishing for other days.
I think this might be a lesson on mindfulness. About how much you can accomplish if you give a task your complete attention but not in an uptight, pressured sort of way. I’ve gotten good at making the most of each 45 minute shift. And when I’m done, I make a point to pause and appreciate my efforts. Up next is to try this out on other parts of my life.