Home + Work: In praise of midday appointments

One of the first things I (Whitney) wrote on my website, which I built from a Squarespace template two-plus years into my business, was my company’s Origin Story. It’s essentially an About page I decided to name something else because I work with words, and I like to play with them, too.

I wrote how grateful I am that my company allowed me to take my children to midday appointments without telling a boss. I don’t do well with *asking for permission.*

And the more I think about it, six years into my business and with my two kids in school, it’s those midday appointments — and long lunches — for me I appreciate the most.

Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., I mix work, play and taking care of myself. Here are a few of my favorite places to dip out to when I need a little break from the laptop, meetings or, if I’m being honest, people:


Snacks and Lunches

Workouts and Relaxation


Believing in taking the time

But here’s the thing: Even when I wrote about midday appointments on my website, I didn’t exactly believe I could take the time for myself. How scandalous! I was trained in shoulds. I should wait for that next email to show my swift responsiveness! I should make myself available to my clients. I should be working ahead. I should be working during regular working hours.

It was a little easier when my kids were babies to sneak away, to protect my time. I had to take them to the doctor, after all. I am nothing if not a responsible mother. But I was slow to make the time — to give myself permission — when it came to me. I still operated as if I was under someone else’s thumb.

I’d go to Sprouts to get a few groceries and linger in the face wash aisle, but I’d refresh my email to ensure I was being as responsive to my clients as I was trained to be. I constantly worried about taking time away from the computer and the work. I made myself accessible even when I was giving myself flexibility. I said I had boundaries, but I didn’t enforce them.

Creating a schedule that works for you

Slowly, I found my way to creating — and constantly evolving with — a schedule that worked for me, my business and my family at the stage we were in right then. When I started saying I gave myself flexibility but didn’t actually, I also said I wouldn’t work past 5 p.m., and I did a pretty good job of sticking to that. Now that I allow myself time for the above list, if my client load warrants it, I’ll sometimes work after my kids go to bed and on the weekends (like I’m doing right now).

It doesn’t feel gross or weird or like a broken boundary because I’m making time to breathe during the weekdays when the places I love are less crowded and more zen. I can’t tell you how much I love to chat with shopkeepers on a random Tuesday instead of on a busy Saturday. As far as I’m concerned, that is living.

And! I give myself permission to change my mind. No day or week is ever the same. I look at my calendar for the week ahead, schedule appointments or workouts usually two weeks in advance, and have a good sense of balancing my schedule to get all my heads down and fun time needs met.

The standing appointment that changed everything

Probably the biggest shift in the permission I gave to myself to take that midday time was when my friend Sam put a standing appointment on my calendar for a Tuesday morning walk. The first few times we met outside of Workhorse Coworking (a coworking space in Edmonds I also happen to manage in many ways) to take our two-hour loop, I felt borderline criminal. I put my phone in my pocket, my fingers curled around it, and it took everything in me to resist refreshing my email. What if someone needed me?

We’ve walked almost every Tuesday for over a year, and now I barely think about my phone. Those walks created a beautiful midday personal time monster.

Not really, but. You get it.

You may not be a recovering corporate person. You may not be a people-pleasing, anxiety-driven perfectionist. You may not have been conditioned out of your inherent healthy narcissism. But, if you can relate to anything I’ve said here, it might be worth looking at your schedule and seeing where you can take more time for you. It doesn’t have to be debating between sheet masks at G Mart, but it can be getting outside, reading a magazine in a different room, or doing a 10-minute meditation.

Have you taken yourself on a mid-day date lately? Tell us what you love to do for you during the work day in the comments. We’ll be in them responding!

— By Emilie Given and Whitney Popa

Whitney and Emilie

Emilie Given is a virtual assistant agency owner in Lynnwood, and Whitney Popa is a writer and communications consultant in Edmonds. They write this column together to share work-from-home ideas. They love where they live and are grateful the virtual world allows them to achieve more work/life harmony. They also co-host a weekly podcast where they share their entrepreneurship journeys while learning about those of others. You can learn more about Emilie here and more about Whitney here.


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