This is quickly becoming my own version of a work diary/journal, and doesn’t really pretend to be a blog where issues are discussed and points of view expressed. I am unashamedly talking about myself and my attempts to work during my sabbatical here, so my apologies to anyone reading if they thought they were getting something less personal and more meaningful!
In my riveting previous posts (ha ha), I have commented that I needed to organize my workspace, prioritize my projects, and make a daily schedule that addressed activities related to mind, body and soul. (I am, of course, not mentioning the one constant in this mix, which is family, because family is part of all three activity categories.) But, as I think about daily schedules I find that the unexpected seems to be cropping up more than I imagined. Perhaps this is part of the sabbatical challenge: to eliminate all responsibilities that aren’t already in motion. I don’t need anything new.
Having said that, I will be grocery shopping in an hour then and there are various things around the house that need to be done, and there is always my wonderful wife whom I would like to spend more time with. It’s a bit of a challenge learning how to organize ALL of this. Making a schedule is the easy part. Making one that is flexible enough to remain relevant longer than a few days is tough. But, I believe baby steps are in order, so I shall begin by making a schedule for the day. This schedule should be based on a few constants:
1) I would like to be physically active at least once a day for 30-60 minutes. It doesn’t have to be anything more strenuous than a walk in the neighborhood, but that’s my goal. And, I would like to do something outdoors with my wife and kids at least once a week. The weekends seem like a good time, but we’ll see how that goes.
2) I would like to dedicate morning to writing and afternoons to other stuff. I write better in long uninterrupted stretches (who doesn’t?), so by starting in the morning I think I will have enough time to get a good chunk out before I tire of it.
3) I would like to read – either for work or for pleasure – for at least one hour every day. Sometimes I read more than this, but mostly I read short snippets of things that come across my phone, ipad or other electronic device. I mean sitting down with a coffee or a spirit of some sort and actually reading. This is more difficult than it may seem because I really do need for my family to be quiet or need to be out and away from them to get it done. Funny thing about my wife and kids…I really can’t help but listen to them. I can sit in a busy shop or cafe and ignore the noise and mayhem blissfully (and be quite productive, too), but if I am with my family it just takes one small sound from them to completely distract me. I think it is because I truly care about them and want to be involved, but for whatever reason it’s incredibly distracting and not conducive to work.
4) I would like to set aside some time to learn how to meditate or at least just be calm and still without falling asleep. I think this kind of relaxation would end up benefiting my mind, body and soul in ways that I cannot imagine. The noise in my head is part of the reason I get headaches and my jaw hurts and I eat too much. A little less noise would be a very good thing for me and my family!
So, this is the start and these are the parameters. So, here is my draft schedule:
5:00am Get up
5:15am Read (either for pleasure or for work, but read something that is part of a long term reading project and not just buzzing through the messages and news that flits across the many different screens in my house).
7:00am Daughter to orchestra/school
7:30am Meditate (Not sure how I am going to do this yet, but want to give it a try.)
8:45am Son to school
9:15am Organize for day (I think a list of 3 priority goals for the day is reasonable. These will be related to work.)
9:30am Writing (Email and other social media OFF, headphones ON, at desk most likely)
12:30pm Walk/exercise (I would like to use the walk as a time to think, too. But because I am often unfocused without paper or a screen in front of me, I am going to have to plan what I will think about and how to record my thoughts. Planning my thinking is new to me, but it will mean picking a project and one aspect of that project – preferably theoretical rather than methodological – that I can think about while out walking. My phone has a recorder that I can use to dictate my thoughts. I just need to make sure that I write them down when I return from the walk.)
1:00pm Lunch (Preferably without the TV on. This may be difficult because I like to eat with my wife who also works from home, and she records cool shows that we sometimes watch at lunch. But, this means that my mind gets out of work/thought mode too much and it is difficult to bring it back. Hope she’ll understand and still want to eat lunch with me!)
1:30pm Respond to work-related email (I need to be strict about the time. 30 minutes only! Anything that requires more can be set aside for response later in the evening. I am going to try to keep this down to only once a day, even though I am totally addicted to email. This is going to take a while to master, but is worth doing. Right now email dictates my thoughts and I have a difficult time not constantly checking it. Yet one more addiction to deal with.)
2:00pm Reading (work-related probably, but not necessarily as long as it is part of some larger work.)
3:00pm Pick-up son from school
3:30pm Language study (Arabic or German. I picked this for now because it doesn’t require as much concentration and involves headphones. The kids tend to be a bit noisy when they get home, and I’ve already described my trouble concentrating when they are around, so this seems like the right time to do this for many reasons.)
4:30pm Happy hour! (A drink, a pipe, and some time to reflect on the day. It would be good to get in the habit of recording my thoughts about the day as well, so this might be a good time to journal.)
5:30pm Prepare dinner/etc
And, the rest of the day is largely family time. I would like to return to the reading later after dinner or when the kids are in bed, if possible, too. And, social media/online reading/etc can be in the evening as well. The problem is that even when I schedule it out like this, there are only about 3 hours of quality writing time. That is when I have to be productive…or I have to squeeze it out of the other times in the day.
So, this is the plan. I will try to begin doing this tomorrow, and report back on how it is working. Fingers are crossed!