When I travel home to Illinois, I frequently will work on Yeti for a few days and meetup with Dav. On this trip I’ve done both at the same time. I’ll meetup with him again tomorrow, hoping to finish up some test automation greatness before we take a break for Christmas.

This time of year is really busy. I have lots of folks to shop for, lots of things on my personal to-do list, and in order to visit here I left a home full of mostly unpacked boxes. This week my employer needed me to list my accomplishments, which is difficult because I’m still trying to accomplish things, but the due date for this report was on my day off. Today.

I had to have my family stop at a Starbucks off I-64 so I could submit what I typed up. When I returned, my sister Jessie wanted to type her own report.

The Typist

What I like about Jessie is that she reminds me of what’s possible when you don’t have lots to do.

In this moment, she’s typing for my sake even though she prefers playing with other things. It’s more for me than her. But soon, she starts to enjoy the challenge of typing and I start to enjoy helping her find the words.

When I begin my day focused on others instead of my own list of stuff, I’m typically more pleased with the result. That’s because instead of churning through what you think is important, you automatically have to do what someone else will value.

Jessie does that because when chooses me over herself, it’s natural for her to give me something I value. Time. Patience. Kindness. As I can’t help but to do the same in return, it reminds me that sometimes my priorities are off.

My challenge is to make moments like this more than a reminder. It’s a checkpoint. More breaks from your endless to-do list give you space to really change.

We’re all not perfect. But these moments remind me of our potential. It’s a bit unsettling, but I don’t want to keep working harder at my own priorities if it means I’m ultimately not helping others.

As this year draws to an end, reserve some time without your to-do list to remember what matters most.