One of the great things about reflecting out loud is that other people share their own insights and make things even clearer. Here’s what Mel said about my post on week beginnings:
I think I’d like to try weekends as week-beginnings this weekend. It’s treating Saturday and Sunday as time to set up for the week ahead, rather than time to recover from whatever the week did to you – it’s a decision to happen to life rather than let life happen to you. And that’s the way I want my week to be. Proactive rather than reactive.
Mel Chua, “Brain-clearing on equilibrium”
That’s it. It’s about taking responsibility for how you want your week to unfold, and investing the time into making it happen. To combine that with another point Mel makes in her post:
So maybe it’s something like this:
- Figure out what you want to do.
- Figure out what doing that thing is like when you’re good at it, and it’s easy – the ease that comes from skill and practice, the ease that comes with awareness and control.
- Figure out how you’re going to get yourself in shape so that the thing you want to do is easy.
… it’s about figuring out what a good week feels like, and setting things up so that you can enjoy that kind of week. What does the difference feel like?
For me, a good week involves:
- Good work at the office: clear priorities and progress
- Plenty of focused time for personal projects, like writing or drawing
- Social connection with W-, J-, friends, and folks online
- Smoothly flowing household routines: knowing where things are, remembering what’s important, minimizing useless stress
- An appreciation for all the days of the week, instead of slogging through some days in order to get to others
What did I do to prepare for that?
- Invested time into learning about project planning and Rational Team Concert so that I can always work with a clear, prioritized task list with time estimates.
- Switched to waking up early so that I could have blocks of focused time for personal projects.
- Planned social events into my calendar and prioritized social interaction for evenings.
- Packed individual lunch portions and stored them in our freezer so that we can be sure of having good food for lunch; cooked dinners during weekends and organized the leftovers in the fridge; switched to using a beltbag instead of a purse so that I’ll always have my keys, badge, and phone in a well-defined place; helped tweak the corridor flow for leaving and entering the house (the big shelves near the front are really useful!).
- Planned my week to make sure I have things to look forward to during the week and during the weekend; set things up so that I enjoyed my work; developed things to enjoy outside work as well.
On a bigger scale, the same principle applies. It’s not about escape, it’s about preparation. The two-week staycation W- and I took in August 2009 is a good example. We thought about we wanted life to be like, and we invested time into getting a little bit closer to that vision. We use our long weekends the same way. It’s relaxing and productive. I take breaks so that I can have focused time to step back, reflect, and work on the foundation of my life, the moments of truth, the systems that will pay off a lot over time… and maybe enjoy a new experience or two along the way.
This reflection reminds me of a discussion from my university theology classes: the difference between freedom from and freedom for. Many people think about breaks as freedom from work. I like thinking about them as freedom for awesomeness. =)