Saturday, August 08, 2015

At ChronicleVitae: Work Less. Play More. What are your ways of doing this?

At ChronicleVitae, Allison Vaillancourt advises readers to work less, play more, and get some sleep:
The most striking finding from my unscientific research study was the theme of rituals and routines. Every single person described something they do on a regular basis in order to maintain a sense of calm and focus. For some, their routines were things you might expect — daily exercise, a strict bedtime, a meditation practice, a healthy breakfast, or a nonnegotiable dinnertime with a partner or family members.
All academics know that, next to a cult of "smart" ("that was such a smart paper" or "she's doing such smart work") we've made a cult of being busy, most of which goes with the job but some of which is self-inflicted. No one wants to be the person who isn't busy, because if you're not busy, how can you be smart?

Vaillancourt has a roundup of ways that people she knows accomplish this kind of self-care, including scheduled quiet time and an app called Habits Wizard.  Although the last thing I need is to have one more app running my life, the point is that if it works for you, you should try it. 

I'd only add that if your routine involves other people, like a quiet dinnertime without dogs milling around and stealing food off the table (family drama on a recent vacation, now resolved*), it's important to have buy-in from the people it involves.

In looking at Vaillancourt's suggestions and those of her respondents, a few things seem to be essential: (1) ritual or routine; (2) quiet time; and (3) restricting access to yourself during those times.
  • "Quiet Sundays" with no email until after 5, something I've tried to do on weekends for a few years that has worked pretty well.
  • Exercise that you actually enjoy, if possible--walking, running, biking, dance, etc.
Some of the ones she mentions are ones I'd like to incorporate more regularly, like looking at the stars on a regular basis rather than sporadically. What other self-care practices would you recommend?

*Resolved by me finally keeping my mouth shut about wanting to keep the dogs out when we eat, because it's only for a week and I'm already seen as the family lunatic for being bothered by this.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Are these relaxing people tenured? ;) I've got that Beastie Boys song stuck in my head, but substitute "Brooklyn" with "tenure," and you've got my life ("No sleep 'til Tenure).

I do set aside time with my kids every day, but that time is not always peaceful and fun. It's mostly at meal times (breakfast and dinner), and bedtime (when we read books). We often fight at meals because they are so picky. We sometimes fight at book time because they aren't listening. Oh well. I'm trying.

undine said...

Fie, I didn't check to see if they are tenured. I often like to scoff at advice about relaxing, since it's usually given by the most driven, intense, status-conscious people I know, but this sounded doable, especially about ignoring emails.

That's the thing: you're trying and making the time for them, even if it doesn't always work.

Historiann said...

Undine, I'm with you about the dogs. They're insane, and poor dog companions if they let them eat food off of your table!!!


Self-care: YOGA YOGA YOGA and then more YOGA. You'll never regret or feel worse after a a yoga class. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

Delurking here to say - re the star watching thing - my kid got really interested in the moon for a while and we went out to look for it after dinner/before bed every night for several months. It was a really fun routine, and cool to watch how it changed over time.

undine said...

Historiann, now that I think of it, irritation about the dogs was the real reason for the post. Others in my family see the dogs during dinner thing as just what those lovable scamps are up to now, so for the present I'm pretending I'm in the same Disney movie they seem to be attempting to emulate. And hey, it's only for a week.

I am going to try yoga! It should help.

Anonymous, thanks for stopping by and delurking! That kind of sustained attention sounds like a great routine, and it would also be a nice way to get away from the screen-centric world inside the house.