My family keeps unconventional time. We always have. First it was because my husband as the head athletic trainer at a very large high school worked insane hours. Then, he entered ministry. Now he doesn’t work as many hours, though still quite a few– I don’t know a dedicated pastor who doesn’t put in well over the conventional forty hours– but what he doesn’t work is conventional days. Our weekend starts Thursday evening. We hold Friday as a sacred day, a sabbath, and Saturday usually involves some form of work or ministry, at least for the morning. Then, of course, we are back in the work week which always begins on Sunday for us. Our strange hours and days have also led us to unconventional school years, learning in July and August, vacationing the week after Labor day when everyone else is really getting back into the work groove. We have learned that time is ours to shape how we can to suit us. Thankfully we’ve been given the freedom to make these choices since we home school, and I stay home to do that.
I say all of this because what I’m about to talk about is a bit unconventional itself. I read this post, A Year Living Without over at Zen Habits in July. I’ve been thinking about it since. When I decided to participate in the 31 Day Challenge, I knew I was facing some priority changes to make everything fit. I am not a fast writer, though the more I consistently practice writing the easier it comes. My days are filled with educating my three teens. I could say right along with everyone else in the world, I’m so busy. I am. But some percentage of busyness comes from how I choose to spend my time, not that there is not enough of it.
Enter the concept of living without. It isn’t merely stuff that needs minimalizing in my life, wasted time needs to be investigated too. I haven’t determined all of the things I will live without for the next year, but I do know what I am trimming for the next month in order to make the 31-Day Challenge attainable. To begin with I need to resculpt my mornings. I am most productive in the morning hours and three days a week early morning is when I run. Running is a non-negotiable. It makes me a better person entirely. Lately, since attaining a smart phone, I waste time before getting out of bed checking email, looking at the weather, twiddling about on facebook. That ended this morning. No more online time before 9am for me.
I’m prone to wasting time at night after the dishes are done and there is nothing pressing on my that needs to be finished. I will fritter away time online again, even playing a few silly games. That also will be ending today. I am resculpting my evenings to be more productive. My definition of productive for these hours will include reading, writing and any other relaxing activities that do include my family and don’t include internet.
My boundaries include a few exceptions:
1) My responsibilities at Middle Places will alter my time boundaries on Mondays only.
2) Night time hours will not completely exclude all use of internet. Home school, personal development or meal planning may happen during these hours but will limited to small segments of time. No social media
Now for the more important element of living without, filling the space. It’s no good to simply free up time, I need a direction for my time. Mornings will include a morning routine of eating, prayer time, making a priority list for the day, running and writing. Once the kids are awake at 8am, life moves ahead like a freight train right through the afternoon and into dinner. I am not trying to create more time space after 8am as that time is for school. School unfolding each day successfully is my priority, not a list of projects with school stuffed in the spaces between those things. Evening will also include developing a routine that will include a final sweep of the house, finishing any chores left unfinished. I haven’t been reading as much as I would like so a lot of evening time will be devoted to that, as well as family time, and working on some personal projects I have going on. I don’t like writing at night as well, but I can use this time to finish up any writing that didn’t get done that morning as well.
I am finding that life, like my home, can be filled until every corner is crammed, every second is labeled, if I choose. But I can also choose to intentionally create spaces that are beautiful just in being there, not because they serve a particular purpose at all.