Casual Fridays: Slack or Shine?


It’s hot in my office these days, so hot that I sometimes retreat to cooler parts of the home I also call “work” in search of a more bearable temperature to combat the heat put off by the laptop that is my most productive co-worker. This summer I’ve worked at the kitchen table, in the living room, on the couch and in the backyard.

While I’ve been galavanting around the house in search of cool, my home office has been falling into a pit of disrepair. It’s been easy to put up with the stacks since I haven’t been here this much, preferring instead to smash work into compact chunks and instead go play with my family. Summer’s slightly slower pace has afforded me the luxury of cutting back a bit on work hours, and since I’m my own boss it’s a blessing I’ve taken for granted. I find that those I communicate with in my work are also a bit more casual during summer, and that the pace of things is generally slower.

Today, I’m thinking about how to best maximize upon that less frenetic tone of summer, and just how to take advantage of the roughly six weeks my calendar holds before things begin to get crazy again in late August. I have a few options:

  1. Continue the way things have been going. Work enough to get by, but preserve the bulk of my time for family and fun.
  2. Take advantage of the quieter pace to get organized and get ahead. Plan now for those crazy Fall months I know lie ahead of me. Get my office organized, get ahead on some financial records that need straightening, and stockpile some projects up front so that my pace will be more bearable in September.
I’m still pondering my answer, but I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Does your work or family life slow down during summer months, or are things as crazy in July as they feel in April? Is this a productive time for you, or would you prefer to go curl up on the beach with a novel? And do you find yourself struggling to balance family life and work this summer?

About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.


  1. I’ve been pondering this too. I’ve been slowly unpacking and getting things in order around our new house, but the room that’s trashed and scary? My office. I’m not always my own boss, but I do work from home primarily.

    I’ve been debating carving out time to organize, little helpers or no. But it IS still a debate. 🙂 Because sometimes, I do better to enjoy the relaxation of summer, use the slower pace to savor those around me, and, in general, just “chill.”

    Then again, I wonder if I’m just being lazy.

    You’re going to let us know what you decide, right? 🙂

  2. Well, Lisa, I would go w/Option #2 that you present here. Things for me/us are CRAZIER in the summer simply b/c, starting in early May, we have company coming living w/us for most of the spring/summer/fall…it’s nearly impossible to stay on track w/our homeschooling (I have 3 at home & one in college). We have already dealt w/a 10 day visit in May, a 7 day visit in June, have had the past 3 weeks “off” and in less than 10 days now, my parents will be here for 22 days and my mil will arrive less than 2 weeks after they are gone to stay for 7 more days. After that, we get a “break” (although mil will be here during what is supposed to be our first 2 weeks of school!) until October when my fil will be here again for at least a week. After that, it’s holidays, snow, cabin fever & then it starts all over again. Thank God for Advent, Christmas, Lent & Easter to refresh my soul or I don’t think I’d survive it all!

    Now, that being said, (and isn’t that enough?!?!), during the “down” time (like now), I work extra hard to purge, declutter, reorganize, etc., so that when our company is here, I can relax our (my) cleaning schedule & spend time w/our families. It naturally brings extra laundry, food prep & such for me (none of them can do their own b/c of physical limitations & our laundry being down in the basement) but the memories created for my children can NEVER be replaced! 😉

    God bless the rest of your summer…it’s already going fast!

  3. Living in Iowa when being able to easily enjoy the sun and outdoors with children is kept to the months of May and early November, if lucky, (snow is great, but I enjoy it best while sitting next to a fire inside!), I am trying to take every advantage of a slower pace to enjoy the great outdoors with my daughter and husband. This is my first summer as an at-home Mom given I resigned from my FT job in December, so maybe my perspective is simply different because of that? Granted, I have plenty to do – 7 months later I still have books and binders and desktop junk packed in boxes from my former office, and it bugs me everytime I look at it. I have also picked up some PT hours for the church which I mostly do from my messy home office. Then in addition to that, my husband is in diaconate formation, and the only time we have off from that intense formation is now – the month of July. So I guess I’m savoring this opportunity to live at a slower pace.

    But the more I write here, I’m thinking the minimum I can do is get my home office in order. It’s time – and come fall, I’ll kick myself for not doing it during the summer when I had more leisure time. And if I’m organized and feel like things are put together at home, I’ll simply be a less-stressed wife and mom once the speed of life picks up soon.

    So, coming full circle here, thanks for motativing me!! My plan is to tackle the home office and get it ready for the busier time that begins in a few weeks. But, I’ll do it once the kiddo is in bed and we still have another hour or so of daylight to enjoy – because that soon will end as well! 🙂

  4. One thing I want to add is that I don’t spend entire DAYS cleaning…we pick up as needed & spend approx. 1 hr daily purging altogether. If everyone does it, it’s like 5-6 hrs being done in an hour and then we stop till the next day. This allows us to go to the neighbors’ pool (we have full access all summer long, thank you neighbors!) or to special story hours at the library & things like that. I *do* work harder than normal (and will add an extra “shift” for myself when we are home & they are resting or playing outside or even later at night when my littlest is sleeping) but definitely don’t waste entire days/weeks when what I really want is to spend time w/the kids enjoying the garden, porch swing (thank you, Aunty!) or a last minute trip to the playground!

  5. I’m a teacher, so yes, work definitely slows down for me during the summer. 🙂 That said, my “other job” — writing — ramps up as I work on larger projects that get back-burnered during the school year. Like you, these days I am struggling somewhat between being “productive” and letting myself just relax and enjoy the summer. When I can escape to a cafe for a time, is it okay to simply read a book for pleasure — or should I be working on that next article?

    I’m starting to realize that it’s best to take it on a case-by-case basis. There are days when I need to work hard and days when I feel good about just letting go and relaxing for a time. It is freeing to know that I don’t have to have a “one size fits all” attitude about using my summer. (And there is no danger of slipping totally into slacker mode — my finely-honed Catholic guilt won’t let me. :))

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