Structure. Does it make you cringe? Do you feel resistance there?
Structure gives us the support we need to thrive. When we are able to adopt a structure that feels good, and gives us room to breathe, we find that it becomes almost effortless to create and live with love + purpose.
For me, structure is crucial. I’ve learned the hard way, more times than I care to admit, that if I let structure fall by the wayside, my world quickly descends into chaos and frustration. My ADD takes control of this pony show, and constant distractions keep me off track all day long. Before I know it, I find myself working until midnight, without much to show for it. Productivity? What’s that?
Think of a life void of structure.
Your work becomes an exercise in futility as you try to chase your to do list. You drop the ball on big projects or forget to respond to clients. You can’t really say where your working hours go, but you never seem to keep up with your to do list. Your email inbox is out of control. Clients are upset because you never return their calls.
Even at home, things fall through the cracks. How many times have you greeted summer with a joyful list of all the things you want to do before school starts again in the fall? And how many times do you realize it’s halfway through August, and you still haven’t crossed off most of your summer fun list?
My girls and I spent today implementing our summer structure. I looked at the June calendar and realized that June is already HALFWAY OVER…and we haven’t done art lessons or photography classes or any of the other things we were eager to jump into. Then I looked at the clock and noted that it was already lunchtime, and the only thing the girls had accomplished so far was knocking a few more hours out of the endless supply of Minecraft videos on YouTube. Whoops.
What happened? We have no summer structure yet. The school year is a carefully orchestrated blend of school and jujitsu and Girl Scouts and days with their dad. Now that school is out, those hours became a free-for-all, with nothing to fill them but time-wasting.
This is what our summer structure looks like. Let me break it down for you, and then I’ll let you in on why this works so beautifully.
It’s a BEAUTIFUL day!
How are you going to fill it?
This is a lovely reminder that every day should be greeted with intention. We don’t ask, “What do we have to do today?” We instead step back and decide what we want to fill our day. Exploration? Curiosity? Creativity? Adventure? This prevents the time-suck activities — do you REALLY want to fill your day watching other people play Minecraft??
This section is a quick checklist to make sure we are conscious of the pieces of our day that get us (and our home) off to the best start possible.
Gotten ready for the day?
Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your hair and teeth. While the occasional lazy day is great, we don’t want that to become the default.
Refreshed your room?
Bed made, laundry put up, tidy up. Our bedrooms are our sacred space, and this habit of taking care of that space sets the stage for it to take care of us later.
Done your part?
Rather than think of chores as something this mean mama dictates, we recognize that we all play a part in taking care of our home. We all pitch in, so we can all enjoy it together. The girls have one chore to do each day, which are clipped together on a ring next to this sign. They check the day’s chore, make sure the dishes are put away, and the rest of the day is theirs.
Taken care of you?
Daily medicines and vitamins are a crucial part of maintaining our health, and along with that goes a great big glass of water. And then the girls fill up their water bottles for the day.
Taken care of Oden?
Of course we can’t forget about the one member of the family who can’t care for himself! Our pup makes the list.
Asked to help?
It’s always a good habit to check in to see if anyone else needs help before we get too far into our own agendas.
Make sure you…
This section is a reminder to tend to all the parts of us. Body, mind + soul.
Move your soul
We make the spiritual a daily practice. The girls can choose how they want to connect each day. It could be through meditation, through writing to God, reading something spiritual, pulling out their angel cards, or whatever else they come up with as a means of stretching their soul.
Move your body
Again, the girls can choose what form this takes, but every day they’re expected to be active. We can do yoga or bellydance in the living room, we can have a spontaneous kitchen dance party, go for a bike ride, hit a park…in the summer especially this can look different from one day to the next.
Move your mind
Specifically, read. I never have any trouble getting my girls to read books. They do have reading logs to fill in, so I want to make sure they remember to log the time they spend reading. This can also be other avenues of challenging their brains, like learning languages or visiting a museum.
Screen Time: The Rule
With the aforementioned Minecraft, we’ve had to be more conscious about how much time is spent on screens. (Computer, tablet, tv, games, etc.) So, the rule is simple. If the sun is out, your screens are off. Rainy days and winding down for the night, that’s when the screens can light up. Of course, there are some exceptions — they can use the tablet to read e-books, or we can turn on a bellydance instructional DVD for a 20 minute lesson. Things like that. Again, mostly just trying to avoid mindless time-suck activities.
The reason this framework is so successful for us is because it’s so open to interpretation. We don’t have strict parameters in place. Nowhere does it say, “Read for 45 minutes from a pre-selected list of literature,” or “Go for a 3-mile run,” or anything very specific. If one girl is having a creative kind of day, she can be inspired by an artist’s biography, then crank up some music and paint a fresh canvas while she dances around. The other might be feeling adventurous, so she can go for a walk with the dog and find a new path in our neighborhood. They each feed what their soul craves for the day, and in a way that is focused, full of intention, and gives us something great to discuss at the end of the day.
Likewise, if you are floundering in your business and struggling while working from home, try implementing a similar structure for yourself. One that has a fluid framework, supports the way YOU work best, and gets you thinking about your day with intention.
Live on purpose, people. Otherwise, all we’re doing is pissing away what time we have here. And where’s the joy in that??