Gretchen Rubin talks in her Better than before book about strategies to interrupt old negative habits and create new positive ones. One of these is the strategy of a Clean Slate, which basically means that we can use moments or create changes in our lives in order to make it better for us. New Years’ or birthdays or, why not, Mondays are a few examples of what those moments could be.
For me, the biggest is autumn, I guess. It is the moment when I intentionally start preparing for a new start, it’s when I take most of my time to reflect and when I make small steps forward. My nature though is to start something as soon as I want; I was never truly a fan of “Let’s start on Monday!” or the next 1st of whatever month is next.
I remember receiving advice against this when I wanted to start something on Tuesdays, the saying being that what starts on Tuesday is not durable. Well, it may not be, but I’ve kept starting things on Tuesdays all my life and some of them are still ongoing. Adjusting general advice to our own nature is what actually supports us in producing the changes we want and not applying the general advice. It would be much easier if it worked, true, but we are so different and yet so much alike. Which is what’s great.
Even now, there’s something special about Tuesdays. Weekends are sometimes hard for me. They are a disruption to my regular schedule. Even when they are fun, they are still different than the rest of the days of the week. During the week, no matter the flexibility of my work schedule, I do make an effort to stay on work related activities during working hours and then in the evenings to relax with what I like most [at times, those are work related activities as well].
But in the weekends, as I don’t perceive anyone to be there waiting for me to be hands on and responsive, I take the time to clean the house, post on the blog, take long walks with coffee and the boyfriend, read some novels, surf the web, watch a movie, maybe meet some friends [that was before the pandemic, as now there aren’t as many as they used to be. Meetings, not friends] or work on a project I like better than the rest [I am sure we all have those].
Then Monday comes and the week starts again. There are Mondays when I need to take some time to get myself started on work again because I am having little difficulty in remembering where I left off. It may be also because of the fact that I work on multiple projects at one time, as one does when working in academia. You have teaching, you have research, you have writing and reading. It’s not just working with the students, you know, but I digress.
So, Mondays are always a little weird for me because I am hyped about the new week starting and have big goals for the day, while, in reality, I need more time than foreseen before I am actually starting to be a little productive. Therefore, I’ve learned my lesson and I schedule zero meetings on Mondays, when I can. I use Mondays to read e-mail, go over my projects and revise the plan I made on Friday. And then on Tuesday I am up to date, excited and prepared for the new week. This is why Tuesdays seem like a fabulous time to start something new, giving all the opportunity and positivity felt in the air.
Maybe because I’ve basically been in school all my life since I was 5, autumn signifies a new beginning. It provides the opportunity to take on new projects, to find the courage to start something you wanted to do in a very long time or to reflect on how the year has been so far and change course if need be.
My plan for this autumn is to be more disciplined about finding a schedule that actually works for me. I’ve been doing this for quite a few years now, but with the passing of time things change. What used to work doesn’t anymore. Thus, it’s time for new routines. I also routinely leave room for flexibility, if the reader is quick to judge that a routine makes one too rigid – It is indeed a possibility and I will not be denying it. I also need to highlight that without routines and discipline, one can let himself carried away with the current affairs and thus forget his or her aims for himself or herself which are usually more complex and require dedicated and constant work.
Let us all have a magical autumn.
Make today count!