Sometimes I feel like running. Not really running, I almost never feel like actual running (people that do are borderline crazy). But sometimes I feel like getting away. And it’s not because there are problems I’m running away from or anything like that. It seems like I go through these weird seasons where I just get restless. I long for something, and I often don’t even know what it is. And in talking with others lately, I’ve seen that maybe I’m not the only one dealing with this. So over the next few days, I want to share a few ways I’ve learned to deal with the restlessness and how it impacts me most.
So the first thing I notice is this: I need routine.
When my life feels chaotic, even if it’s because there are so many opportunities coming my way, I feel like running. I crave routine. I’ve found that when my schedule is full of “extra” stuff, I lose the joy of the day to day. I know there are some that hate anything feeling routine – but for me, routine is somewhat of a safety net. Routine allows me to plan my week instead of my week happening to me. One thing that has helped me here is to design an “ideal week.” The ideal week is a calendar I’ve created on paper (written down!) that plans in times of focused work, times of meeting with people, and times of rest. Together with my wife and kids, we’ve determined how many nights a week I should be home in that ideal week as well as how we should spend my “off” time.
That sounds good, how do I do that?
I’m glad you asked. A friend taught me to divide my week into 21 equal zones. The ideal week has at least seven zones that are free or open, with no work related obligations. Of those seven, at least three should be consecutive. So the 14 remaining zones can be (note, that doesn’t mean that all 14 HAVE to be) divided up for work related stuff. Within my ideal week I’ve got time set aside for my most important work, other time set aside for my most important recurring meetings, and still other time that is set aside as “open for appointments.” If you are married, make sure you work on this together with your spouse. Those seven zones away from work are really important times for family, for dates, and for whatever gives you life.
Do I always keep an “ideal” week? No. That’s why sometimes my life devolves into chaos. But I usually find that when life feels chaotic the first place I need to look is my calendar. Lately, that’s meant canceling plans, postponing meetings, or doing whatever I needed to do to reduce the noise and the chaos in my life.
So I start with routine. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about one aspect of that routine – practicing creativity.