by Gina Morris, BridgeLab PNCA
Nature needs rhythm. From the boom and bust of the changing seasons to the pulse of a single heart cell, there is an essential ebb and flow that keeps the cycle of life’s energy moving from creation to maintenance to destruction and back again. It’s not a free-for-all of output over input. The Universe is way too busy and balanced for that (and you are too). Rather, like a piece of music, rhythm finds its context and thrives in the structure of the composition.
This month, I invite you to compose the symphony of your professional practice by embracing the power of rhythmic structure in your scheduling to keep yourself healthy, happy, and productive in 2015.
Step One: Observe Yourself + Find Your Own Rhythm
Jot some notes as you work (or at the end of the day in the studio) and ask yourself, “What is my work rhythm?” What time(s) of day do you get the most done? How long at a stretch can you go before you need a break? Do you work better after a snack? After rigorous exercise? After meditation and before coffee? Are you more focused at the beginning of the week or does it take a day or two to ramp up to speed?
Discover your best times to be productive. Notice and acknowledge the times when you need to recoup and relax. (Denying these needs does not make them any less valid or necessary—yes, I’m talking to you sweet, young, workaholic American. The grindstone isn’t going anywhere and you only get one nose, feel me?) Work with your natural rhythm instead of against it and you’ll feel the difference immediately.
Step Two: Compose Your Schedule with Rhythmic Structure
With your new understanding of your working rhythm in mind you can create a structured schedule that includes time for WORK, INSPIRATION, and PLAY. If you build it all in you never have to worry about having enough time or that you “should” be working. Keep it simple and realistic, and don’t be afraid to change things up if it’s not working (go with the flow).
Schedule your time at the beginning of each week to include (at least one hour of each):
- WORK: produce your art during your most focused and productive times of day/week.
- INSPIRATION: read a poem, see a show, research a new concept, or investigate stores or galleries that might carry your work. In other words, accomplish things that need doing but don’t require your creative juices to be at full throttle. This is maintenance work/energy.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY → PLAY: set aside open space in your week to discover something new, take a class, take a walk, sing, try a new medium, get out of your studio and do something totally different with your body and mind so you’re fresh when cycle picks back up. Guard this hour like a mama bear—it’s the most valuable and first to sneak away.