Dixie Darr

In creativity, work on January 10, 2007 at 8:12 am


“Life is an experiment to discover what’s possible.”
Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers,A Simpler Way

Scheduling when we do our work can be a challenge for those of us who work at home. At breakfast with a group of writers last week, we talked about the typical advice that we need to write something every day. One woman with young children explained that she has to snatch a few minutes for her writing here and there between her responsibilities to her children.

Another tries (in vain, usually) to schedule an hour or two every day for working on her novel. This is what Barbara Sher, author of Refuse to Choose, calls the school day model. It is well suited to certain types of what she calls scanners: people with restless, curious minds who want to do many things instead of focusing on just one.

In the school day model, you arrange your day like a day in high school, moving from one activity to another every hour or two. She even suggests setting a timer to remind you when it is time to move on to the next thing.

The physician model is another scanner-friendly schedule, and one that I prefer. Sher explains, “a physician might see patients on Monday and Tuesday, go into the hospital on Wednesday and Thursday, attend conferences a few times a month, and take 2 weeks in the winter to go with Doctors without Borders to Nepal to perform hundreds of cataract operations.”

I haven’t been to Nepal lately (well, ever) but I do tend to focus on one thing for a day or two at a time. Today, for example, I will spend the day grading papers and preparing for the class I teach tonight. The next two days I can work on course outlines and workbooks for my seminars. Saturday is the day I spend with my parents and Sunday is for church activities. Since I always have a variety of activities, even on days with one major focal point, my schedule is really a hybrid of these two life design models.

Kristi, a dhoula, describes her aunt, who schedules her housework to do one major task per day. Every Monday she cleans her floors, Tuesday is laundry day, etc. Kristi thinks this is a perfect schedule, but can’t make it work for her because she may spend 36 hours with a patient, then sleep for a whole day. The point is that we all have to find what works for us. It doesn’t help to try to force ourselves into a preconceived schedule, no matter how well it might work for someone else.

Sher’s book describes many other life design models and stories of people who use them. They will open up your thinking about what is possible.

©2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved


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