We’re back at it again. Reviewing and redoing our schedule, once again.
It feels redundant and sometimes just plain annoying to have to revamp our schedule. Part of me wants to keep my same schedule. Possibly due to my stubborn nature and possibly because I’m lazy and like passive action.
But when I consider actually keeping the same schedule I’ve been working off of this spring into the rest of summer, it seems undesirable and unreasonable. Unreasonable because my workflow changes with the summer and undesirable because keeping my spring schedule doesn’t factor in that summer will be here. And while a semi-quarantined summer might look different than a typical summer, it’s still summer. I still want to take advantage of the longer days, leaving space for spontaneity to happen (as it can), and bright warm sunshine.
So I am sitting down and updating my schedule for the summer.
However, I titled this “Building a Summer Rhythm 2020” for a specific reason. I want to get away from the idea of a schedule and focus on rhythm. Why?
Well for starters, schedule sounds stringent and inflexible. It reminds me of rules, classroom alarms, intense Outlook calendars, and invokes an anxiety of being late.
As opposed to “rhythm” which sounds less rigorous, more welcoming, and with more space and room to breathe. Doesn’t it? Maybe it’s something to do with the hard “sch”of “schedule” while “rhythm” doesn’t have any hard letter sounds. But regardless, this is one of the reasons why I picked the word rhythm over schedule as our focus today.
Rhythm implies that there is room for flexibility and space to develop, grow, and adapt. The focus of a rhythm is less on specific tasks and meetings being done within certain time points or by given deadlines, but rather the focus is more on what habits and practices do we want to prioritize and incorporate into our day to day lives. Rhythms are therefore inviting us to create space for development and growth as opposed to a schedule that invites us to accomplish tasks within set timeframes. Catch the difference?
Building a schedule is asking the question of what am I getting done today and when. Building a rhythm is asking the question what am I going to do today to help build XYZ into my life. It’s a different question. One is more short term, more urgent, more tangible in the moment while the other is more long-term and reflective. One is focused on what I do and the other is focused on who I am.
Now, I don’t want you to hear that building a schedule is bad. Not at all. Schedules are helpful to keeping us on track in our days, to ensure we don’t spend too much time on a task than is needed, to prevent us from overworking or underworking. I personally build myself a daily schedule (on work days) to ensure I’m prioritizing and working on the tasks that need to get done to move the business forward and to prevent myself from overworking. However, I believe that starting to build a schedule (and a healthy one that is balanced and doesn’t overwhelm), starts with building rhythms. Ready? Let’s do this.
Similar to some of our other posts about building a schedule or rhythm (here and here), we start by asking ourselves: What do I want to be true of this time? Specifically, this summer. Might seem like a vague question, but intentionally left open so we can start defining our habits, whatever they may be for whatever space we are in.
For me, the question response I would give is: “I want to not have wasted this time. I want to have rested well. I want to have spontaneous fun and connection with kindred friends. I want to have learned something new.” All different things, touching on different aspects of life, but all answering the question of “What do I want to be true of this time (summer)?”
From there, we can take a little deeper dive and ask ourselves the next layer question: Keeping these statements in mind, then what do I need in my daily/weekly/monthly rhythms in order for these statements to be true of my summer?
Now this can be the trickier piece. And honestly kinda reminds us of those math if-then statements we learned way back when. What were they called, formally? All I know is I did not like them nor understood them, and yet here we are, kinda doing them in some form or fashion. *shrug emoji*
The trick to figuring out the rhythm(s) that matches with the truth statement is, digging a little more into the specifics of the truth statement and the context surrounding it. For example, let’s take my statement of “I want to be rested.” Something I am constantly working on, by the way.
If I want to be rested, I want to ask myself: “are you feeling rested now? what might help me feel more rested? Is there something I’m doing now that might need to change to help me feel rested? Whether that’s adding or removing something.”
Asking myself these questions helps me get at the context of my truth statement to evaluate what I might want to incorporate or change in order to make this a true statement at the end of my summer. Maybe I’m not feeling as rested as I desire to and so I’ll need do look at what my daily and weekly rhythms have been so far and honestly see where adjustments need to be made, either adding in blocks of rest or removing something I’m doing to create more space for rest. Or maybe I’m actually feeling quite well rested right now (which I am these days and it’s great), so I’ll want to see what have I been doing that’s been working and make sure I keep that rhythm for the summer as well. For me, I’ve been taking Sundays completely off of work, jumping off of work by 6PM and not looking at work social media before 9AM and after 5:30PM. This has helped me feel rested so I’ll want to keep these rhythms in the summer as well.
Kinda see how it’s done?
With statements like “learning something new,” “growing personally,” or “not letting time slip by,” I’ll probably need to be a little more specific about what I mean with these statements. But even before I get into the specifics, I can imagine building a weekly rhythm that would lend itself to each of these might be blocking off weekly time to give myself room to learn something new or grow personally. I can imagine setting boundaries and guidelines on when I’m willing to work and when I’m going to take time off. For example, I’m planning on taking Friday afternoons off and leaving the space free for spontaneous fun with friends. I’m planning on asking friends to hold me accountable to the working boundaries I’m setting as well. My housemate has already been great, direct messaging me on Instagram when she sees me on social media at a time I said I wasn’t going to be on it. Accountability friends.
If this is all new to you or feels overwhelming and like you want to quit before you even get started, then take a moment to pause. Walk away. Breathe. And then come back. I don’t want you to try it all or do it all at once. Maybe for some of you it’s tempting to look at it that way, because if I’m going to make changes, I might as well do it all at once. I get it, I’m that kind of person too. But if it’s something new that’ll take a lot more energy, thought, and intentionality then I’m used to, doing it all at once will likely lead to burnout and frustration.Which might ultimately lead to quitting and never trying this again. I don’t want this for you.
My suggestion is to just pick three rhythms to focus on. Three smaller rhythms to help build into your summer rhythm into what you want it to be. Whether that’s a day of rest, space to learn and read, trying a new recipe a month (to lend itself to being more adventurous or being a better cook), setting hard work boundaries (to commit to more rest and more play), etc., just pick three and let those be your focuses. There’s always time and room to add more as you get into the practice of building a rhythm.
So here’s the TLDR; of the guidelines for building a summer rhythm:
Decide what you want to be true of this summer.
Ask yourself what needs to be put in place daily, weekly or monthly in order to get to that true statement.
Pick three focuses (i.e. smaller daily/weekly/monthly rhythms) to work on and build into your summer rhythm.
Find someone to help you be accountable and do it with!
Practice patience, grace and joy in this rhythm building.
The last two are important. Doing things with people are important. We are meant to do life with people and what better way to do life this summer, even if physically distanced, is by inviting them into your space of building habits. They can have different ones from you, but doing it together nonetheless will feel like your arm in arm.
Patience, grace, and joy. There will be times when you didn’t hit that rhythm for the week. When you didn’t rest well, you didn’t work out, you worked over hours, you didn’t feel like doing the things. That is okay. Life, feelings, emotions, happen and are real. Sometimes there’s a time to push past them (the negative ones that tell us we’re worthless), but sometimes pushing past them without acknowledging them is more dangerous. So in those moments, practice patience and grace with yourself. Know that “tomorrow is a new day” and laugh with joy at what is to come.
Building a rhythm may sound intimidating and intense. But really it’s meant to give us room for being wholehearted intentional people and to find greater joy in our lives. We hope this more than anything, rang true in this post.
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