New Life, Jessica Pamp @ Unsplash

1 month into a new life

I left the office a month ago and look back in awe at how fast time has gone by. I have not had a chance to sit in the garden (just yet) but I am trusting July and August will be there for that. In a moment of reflection, racing thoughts go through my head (yes, they still kind of race, don’t just walk). I have slowed down, but I have not stopped. I have reduced my scheduling, but routines are still important. Kids and charity could take all my time, but that’s not what the plan is. In fact, there is no plan. 

Time has slowed down…

I felt it slowly but surely. I started being more on time and rushing less, not worrying about optimising the time between point A and B or beating Waze. Well, I still like to beat Waze, but now a bit less out of need. I went to lunch without the guilt or worry to check my email, I chatted to a friend fully focused, I even left the house without a watch (creepy). I feel less suffocated, more free, even if technically the amount of things I committed to do in June are still demanding. I feel like I have a choice in most of them (ok, perhaps not the one about doing my taxes). Choice has made me look at time as my own, and choosing what I do with it makes me seize every moment in a slower manner. And pat myself in the back just a bit more at the end of each day that I do something I would not have done before.

 … but I have not stopped

That part was to be expected. Hubby B is afraid I reorganise the house, manage the nanny like my team or go crazy. Whilst home re-org is likely part of the list, it is nowhere close to the top10 or even top20. Perhaps I will get there.

After the first 2 weeks, I was worried. I felt time was flying by and the ‘few’ things I had committed to do during June (again taxes, and the charity accounts) were still half way. I asked around:

Are you less productive if you have more time?

Whilst there are several studies that show the diminishing returns of working more hours, and how you need to do less to be more productive (crazy!), I am not sure they prove the reverse that having more free time makes you less productive on the task at hand. I am definitely a good procrastinator, and recognisably, when one does not have a schedule, things can get off hand. But I was still getting a lot done every day. It was just hard to measure stuff.

Whilst Hubby B is was quick to affirm my hypothesis, with a few good justifications for it, this is one I want to check further. Are you surprised I am talking about productivity on my fourth week off work?

I have allowed little scheduling…

For a moment I thought I would not live off a calendar for a while. Go by the day and just see what happens. Have a few things in mind that I want to accomplish and stay with that. The thought was good, I am not sure the practitioner was up for it. Without a schedule or at least somewhat of a plan for the day (thanks Bullet Journal for the last 4 weeks), I easily get lost and frustrated, eventually seating at the computer for lack of a thought alternative. Yes, my default is not (yet) to sit in the garden with a book. I always revert to the office with my laptop. I am guessing that can evolve over time. Perhaps my laptop in the garden will be the next step.

As I tried a life of flow, I concluded that was going to be tough, especially as I had specific things I wanted to get done in June, before my 2 months off with the kids. So I said “flow” needed to be reserved for September (if that reveals to be a good thing for me) and allowed back scheduling. To remove the stress of back and forward with a lot of people trying to catch up I updated my Calendly, defined which hours I am willing to be by a phone or computer and scheduling made it somewhat easier. I also made a point about scheduling lunches, physio and personal training. So don’t worry, not all boring.

 … but routines are still important

The truth is, most of us thrive on routines. They remove the overwhelm of decision making of what to do next at any point in time. I am a sucker for routines, especially for the things that are more difficult for me to decide to do – like Yoga every morning when I want to be glued to bed for an extra 10 minutes, jumping on the elliptical as soon as I come back from school drop-off when I want anything but to work hard, personal training that will make all my muscles hurt and probably give me back pain for the next 2 days. All those get to turn into routines, so I don’t skip a beat and suddenly make it a habit to not do them.

With a few exceptions, these are the routines I want to make and keep for the longer run. Perhaps I would like a daily writing routine, a daily reading routine, a daily meditation routine, a daily journaling routine. But then my schedule would be again overflowing and I would be running between places very quickly again, back on a mechanical wheel that I have built for myself. So instead, I will shake it up with the holidays and see what stays on the other side.

Kids and charity could take all my time…

The other known known of engaging in time off was that there were 2 big babies in my life that would gladly take all my time. My kids and my charity. Clearly, this was a proven hypothesis. After a first rush of picking the kids up from school and stay with them after school each day, I was clear that I would not always be available at pick up time but would always make it a priority to be there a few times a week. Little Girl C understood that there were still a lot of things Mummy had to do, Baby S was not so convinced, especially after the first Friday I picked him up without rush to go back home and took him for ice cream. Living the dream.

In parallel, I had committed to a big piece of work for the charity during June (which I failed to deliver) and that has added a lot of time constraints to what I would hope would be a more relaxed schedule. Self-imposed no doubt, which caused even more mixed feelings about all of it. Can I ever stop myself to impose deadlines and try to accomplish things? As I embark on my trip to Mozambique after 4 years away, I hope that will remind me that what we do is important, but is also not anymore fully dependent on me. Which I relish.

 … and I am not quite sure how much time for myself I have really taken

I have not taken much time for myself in a strict definition, mostly on my own fault. But I have taken time to be with friends (most enjoyable), work out (semi-enjoyable, mostly the end of it), physio massage (semi-enjoyable, mostly if she is not working on my back). To be honest, time with the kids without worrying about outcomes (school work, reading and the like), is time I greatly enjoy, even if I can’t listen to my own brain (in many circumstances helpful).

I am not sure I am meant to take time to go sit and read in the garden (I seem to be stuck to this idea). Maybe that will mean nothing to me. Though I am sure I will still give it a go. As I reflect, I feel like the time I had for myself was the time between places, as I listened to a book or just turned off the radio and drove in silence, letting my brain wonder until it could no more, not feeling rushed into what I had to do.

I know, it is only the beginning. And now the holiday part of the break will truly start. Next stop Mozambique.

Photo by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash

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