I'm back to work this week after a long, lovely maternity leave. It's pretty rare as an adult to have time when you are completely free of lingering work responsibilities and then have the opportunity to start again fresh. (Well, fresh aside from approximately 30,000 emails in my inbox.)
For this fresh start I'm thinking about whether there are any new habits I want to implement. If you've read Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before, she calls this the strategy of the clean slate. This habit changing strategy is only available when there's a big transition in your life -- moving, getting married, changing jobs -- where your routine is thrown up in the air giving you an opportunity to choose to do some things differently.
A few ideas I'm going to play with...
I typically go into our office in downtown LA once or twice a week. I haven't really had a routine around those days -- I might leave the house to coordinate my commute with a work call, to get there in time for a meeting, or just whenever. But now with a baby's schedule to think about, I'm going to try leaving the house and leaving the office at consistent times. In addition to helping me make it home for the bedtime routine, I think I'll feel more relaxed and it will certainly make it easier to schedule meetings on those days.
I have an idea for something I want to suggest for my small close-knit team and I'm going to mention it to my boss on our next check-in. It's something that will let me bring some of my own personal interests into my work life in a way that I hope will also help others. Probably because of this, I do feel a little vulnerable about it!
As I've been getting ready to go back to work, one of my anxieties is about how to make time for all of the things that matter to me. Work, parenting, creativity, exercise, friendship, marriage, aiy aiy aiy. But, as a colleague and friend who is also a new mom said when we were chatting last week: do you feel like you get to do everything you want to do now?
I was just listening to an episode of Elise Gets Crafty where she interviews Laura Vanderkam who writes about time. I've read a couple of Laura's books and remembered that she has a time tracking spreadsheet on her site that you can use to see where the 168 hours in your week go. She writes that when you subtract out work and sleep, most of us still have a lot more time leftover than we think.
I want to know how I'm spending that time, hoping it will show me some possibilities. Not that I will find huge swaths of open or wasted, but even fifteen minutes of creativity goes a long way toward making me feel whole and connected.
So I'm planning to spend at least the next month keeping track of all my time in fifteen minute increments. (I tracked it in six minute increments for a previous job, so this is doable!)
I've never been a working mom before so it's hard to know what will work for me and which of these ideas could stick. There are a million other things I could try, but today is the day to decide -- I don't want to miss the chance to take advantage of the clean slate!
I have a new plant on my desk to go along with the new rhythm to my days. Let's see how it goes... Have you been able to create any new practices during a big life change like this?