By Evan Lenz
I recently signed up for an amazing service called Peer Success Circles. It has absolutely transformed the way I go about my work. With a daily accountability partner, I’ve been much more effective and efficient at getting things done and moving forward on my goals. I’m now in my fifth week of this program, and I’m still loving it. It has become a new way of life. I should have started this long ago.
But one thing I’m learning this week is that I still need to take time for reflection. (Thankfully, the questions in this program naturally drive you into doing that too.) In the past, I actually reflected—or daydreamed—too much. I’ve now become much more action-oriented. Each day, I create a plan of attack, complete with a specific schedule of how I’m hoping to spend my time. And I track how I do—how closely I stick to the schedule, taking note of where I deviated. I’m developing new habits. Rather than habitually looking back at where I just was, I move forward. Reviewing how I did at the end of each day does wonders for my self-awareness, for staying on track, and for finding ways of doing better tomorrow.
This process works very well for my work. Time is the raw material, my schedule is the function, and productivity is the result. A simple equation. But when it comes to family time–time spent in moment-to-moment interaction with my wife and kids, it can’t be so easily structured. And perhaps it shouldn’t be either. We have been scheduling PlayTime, and I think that’s a good way to ensure that we keep it up. But for most activities, in order to be realistic, I have to leave family time pretty open-ended. And I’m okay with that. But I find myself in the position of having this great, new, exciting, effective process for making me more effective at work (basically, a daily schedule) and no corresponding great, new, exciting, effective process for family life.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s mainly just the scheduling aspect that doesn’t work for family time. The rest of the Peer Success Circles process is still very helpful. Setting goals, articulating what I’m committed to, what’s the driving force behind my actions, reflecting on how I did each day, etc.—these are all amazingly effective for making a positive impact on my family life too.
So what am I complaining about? I don’t know. Maybe the “problem” is disappearing before my eyes. It’s not as if I’ve always been a compulsive, schedule-oriented type. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a “dreamer,” favoring unstructured time. (Of course, that appears to be changing now.) So I get to still favor unstructured time when it’s with my family. It is nice to come to the end of the work day and let go of my schedule for a little while.
But I still face challenges, and I think it comes down to difficulty with being in the present moment, wherever I am. What is “time” anyway? I’ve made it this thing that I manage. And that’s working pretty well for me. But it’s really just a concept, not real in and of itself. Maybe I need to find a way to let go of time when I’m with my family. I’ve recently heard that “time is an emotion.” That’s an interesting concept, even if I don’t fully understand what it means yet. But I think I’ll reflect on this some more—you know, do some daydreaming about it. Yes, I think I’ll daydream about being engaged in the present moment. (That was a joke—and it would be funny if it weren’t so true.)
My first exercise will be to take a shower tomorrow morning and engage fully in what I’m doing. When I’m washing my face, I’ll think about nothing but washing my face. When I’m rinsing my hair, I’ll think about nothing but rinsing my hair. Once I’ve started to make some progress on this, I’ll step it up and bring the intention over to my family time, at the end of the work day. (PlayTime is already designed for this. Actually, it’s a sort of present-moment/daydream hybrid…which perhaps is a good characterization of play itself…). The correct word seems to be “mindfulness” (but I wonder if that’s a misnomer…).
I’ll be sure to schedule a follow-up post on this. All in good time.