The myth of “productivity” while traveling

Thick encyclopedias with colorful hardcovers

When we left for Europe, I had a long list of things I planned to do in my free time: reading, writing, scrapbooking. I had a vision of productivity, as if Europe was going to be my own little workshop. But it didn’t work out that way. The “productive free time” I had envisioned never really came to be.

“What!?” some of you may be asking. “You weren’t working! You had nothing but free time!”

True… but between sightseeing, travel planning, and homeschooling Quinland, it felt like I was working the entire trip. That’s not a complaint – I loved almost every minute of it – but each of those “jobs” had tasks that had to be accomplished, deadlines that had to be met, and consumed hours and hours of time. We also had to cook, and sort through photos… and sleep. We were often exhausted at the end of the day.

So, what were the productive things I thought I was going to do on the trip? Did I do any of them? Let’s see:

  • Read a stack of books I’d brought from home. (Partially done; I read parts of all the books I brought with me, but didn’t finish any.)
  • Write the first of my series of Newbery Award-winning young adult novels. (Not even started.)
  • Make a digital scrapbook our trip as we went. (Does buying and downloading all kinds of cool pages for Storybook Creator count? No? Drat.)
  • Blog the trip, as well. (I did 58 blog posts for the trip… but I am only on Day 37 out of 168. Luckily, I kept notes for each day so I can finish it now that I am home.)
  • Blog here at Lighten Up! everyday. (I had averaged a post a day before the trip, but I only posted 60 times from March through August.)
  • Send postcards to all my friends and family. (I think I sent five total pieces of mail the entire trip.)
  • Skype people regularly. (This was hit and miss… I talked to my sister a lot, and Q talked to Hannah a lot, but otherwise we never seemed to be on Skype at the same time that other people were on.)

Oh, well. Perhaps my free time, such as it was, was not productive. I still got to hang out with David and Quinland, play a few games of Agricola (and many games of Dominion), watch a whole bunch of the Olympics, read a bunch of books I downloaded onto the Kindle, and try to catch up with my favorite blogs on my Google Reader. Not productive time, but very enjoyable time, and that is what matters.

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful that everyone was so gracious when we were late – horribly, unforgivably late – for a family birthday party today. We’d swung by the house to pick up the gifts and cards, only to discover that I could not find half the gifts and had to tear the house apart. I was having a serious panic attack, but everyone was very kind to me.

I am also grateful, of course, for the photo by Horia Varlan.

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