Summer is half over… which means you still have plenty of time to have some fun and make some memories.
But, are you doing that?
Some of the big attractions of living the writer’s life are the ability to set your own hours, to work from anywhere, and to enjoy a little extra freedom in your life.
But, it’s easy to fall into a routine and simply forget to use your scheduling freedom.
Working from home can also add a complication. When the transition between work and not-work isn’t as clear as it could be, you might find yourself working longer than you really mean to.
And, the reality is the writer’s life can keep you plenty busy.
I know of many writers — and I’ve been there myself — who overcommit and then end up working long hours to meet all their deadlines.
But, here’s the thing…
Even if you’re super busy, you can still take advantage of the summer days and have some wonderful experiences. And, you should…
Routines and the Value of Breaking Out of Them
Routines are valuable. They help you focus. They reduce uncertainty and procrastination.
But, as valuable as they are, there’s also value in breaking out of them.
When you disrupt your routine, the first benefit you’ll enjoy is more satisfaction with your routine and your life overall. There’s nothing like getting out of your routine to help you appreciate the structure it brings. Doing new things on a different schedule tends to slow down your perception of time and create memories that last. It also helps you look at your routine with a fresh perspective, so you can reevaluate how well it’s working for you.
Breaking out of your routine is reenergizing. I make it a point to break my routine once or twice a month. Since I’ve started doing that, I find I’m more relaxed, I’m able to focus better for longer, and I feel more creative.
There’s also some stress reduction that comes from mixing up your routine. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you need to do, the last thing on your mind is taking a morning off to go do something fun. But, those three or four hours of play time might lead to a whole month’s worth of better stress management — which is essential when you have a lot on your plate.
All right… so, hopefully you’re convinced that making time to play is a good thing to do.
But, maybe you’re not quite sure how to do that without throwing your workflow into a tailspin.
I’ve got three strategies I recommend.
Shift Your Day – Go Have Fun in the Morning
Rather than cut three or four hours from the end of your workday to have fun, try shifting your schedule.
Get up early in the morning and go somewhere nearby. It could be a waterpark, a pool, a lake, a trail, a spot by the river, a movie… you get the idea.
The point is to start your day off with something enjoyable and fun.
As an example, one Monday earlier this month, my family and I got up and left the house by 7:00 a.m. By 8:30 we were at a trailhead. By 9:30, we’d hiked to one of our favorite spots. We hung out for about an hour, enjoying the morning and the quiet of being away from everything.
Then we hiked out and headed home. I was at work by 1:00 p.m. I worked until dinner and then put in another couple hours in the evening.
The amount of time I worked wasn’t that different than any other day, so I didn’t get behind. But, the day itself will stand out in my mind for a long time.
Scale Your Week – Take a Midweek Day Off
A morning off is wonderful, but taking a whole day off can work miracles in terms of relaxation and stress reduction.
Just imagine it…
You get up early in the morning. You pack picnic supplies into a cooler. You grab a blanket, a good book, a notebook and pen, a frisbee, and your sunscreen.
You and your family reach the lake shore before nine in the morning. You find a prime spot and spread out your blanket. Because it’s Tuesday, there’s not a big crowd.
You spend the day swimming, napping, reading, tossing the frisbee, snacking, and swimming some more.
You pack up at four and grab a pizza on the way home for dinner. Then you spend the rest of the evening hanging out and playing a boardgame.
That sounds pretty great, if you ask me. But, how do you do that, if you don’t have the time to take a day off?
The way I approach this is to scale my week. I’ll look at the day I’m planning to take off and consider what I need to get done that day to stay on top of my workload. Then, I’ll divvy up that day’s work across the other days, including Saturday.
Doing this means I might put in an extra hour each day, plus a couple of extra hours over the weekend. But, the complete break on Tuesday or Wednesday more than makes up for the bit of extra work on other days during the week.
Take Your Work With You – You Can Work From Anywhere
So, maybe you’re rolling your eyes at me and thinking, “There’s no way I can take this kind of time off without completely stressing myself out… even a couple of hours would send me into a spiral of stress.”
If that’s the case, I understand. Believe me, I’ve been there.
And, if that’s the case, I suggest a third strategy… the work-from-anywhere strategy.
Breaking your routine and indulging in a little something special is still worthwhile, even if you work while you do it.
Check out local museums that offer free Wi-Fi to visitors. You could spend your day working in front of different paintings and sculptures. Depending on your city, some of your local parks may have a signal. You could spend an afternoon working under a large, gorgeous tree. Or, you could keep it simple and work in a coffee shop or library.
Another way to approach this…
You might do all your work that requires an Internet connection in the morning — research, social media, email — and then head to a nearby park for some uninterrupted writing time.
Think back on when you were a kid… the freedom and fun that summers brought. And then, think about how nice it would be to recapture that feeling, even for a couple of hours. Now, make it your mission to fully embrace the writer’s life, and have a little extra fun before the summer’s over.