The FLOW process exists because I needed to prove to myself that I could work while also eating well, making lifestyle choices that feel free, and having time for me.
This “balance” is perhaps hardest for me in the summer — well, until I acknowledged what a big transition it is from the school year to the summer, and realized that I can feel any way I please if I train my brain to feel that way.
It starts with a word.
My seasonal “flow” is always an important guide in my life, but I especially feel its significance in the summer with work. I have had summers where I wanted to feel ease and my work bucket was overflowing with challenging work. I have had summers where I wanted to feel productive and all my projects were on hold until the fall. (Luckily I had the sense to write a book that summer!)
I am super clear in summer what I want to feel like and the best way for my work to support that. My word for this season is reliable. My creative juices have been flowing. The next cohort of FLOW365 is ready to get going in late summer. The next version of the FLOW planner needs some love, attention and creativity, so it is ready to hit the market in September. It all feels so exciting… until I remember that there are 3 kids home all summer and trips that are already planned.
So this is what I do.
I am super clear about what I want to do workwise this summer, and what can wait until late August. I make choices in May instead of as I go in July. (If you are listening now, it’s not too late. Make the choices now that will guide the rest of your summer.) I do this by dividing a paper in two and writing — one half is summer work and the other is fall work. I draw arrows, cross things out, and let myself go until I know I have a plan. Sometimes I rewrite nicely. This summer there is work that really wants to make its way in the world, so I have built in lots of work hours. I tell everyone in my life in advance what to expect and what not to expect of me.
I batch more than usual. I find the summer is way more about chunks of time vs. consistent daily tasks. This means it makes way more sense to create all social media posts one day and spend the next day creating 5 podcasts, so the next two days I can spend at the beach with my kids. It is really hard for my brain to start and stop creativity, so I try to test that as little as possible.
I practice presence. When I am working, I want to be 100% looking for my amazing clients in the eye (on Zoom), not being asked to watch my daughter do her new and improved cartwheel. When I am with my kids, I want to be able to watch that cartwheel with every cell in my body and ignore the notifications coming from my phone. This is in part being clear with my family and knowing when I need to leave the house to work somewhere else so I am not distracted by kids. This is also in part leaving my phone on the charger or putting my computer in its case and fully engaging in the grass and energy of the kids running through it — knowing that there is work time scheduled in the not too distant future because it is on the calendar.
I figure out two work retreats. I very much practice presence. I am far from perfect. Because I know this about myself, I have created a ritual that has my back. I schedule two weeks where all of my kids are out of the house, and I have the whole day and night to get done what I need to get done. Sometimes this means all the kids go off with my husband. Sometimes I divide them up between grandparents. Last year one went away to camp. It is a puzzle, but it is so important for my sanity and staying in business!
I bring my journal everywhere. I shared two extremes to share my focus on practicing presence, but there are many in-between moments. I take the kids to the beach and my husband takes them all on a walk. I take the kids and friends for a swim at the pool, and they are hanging with their friends. In both scenarios, I may indulge in the swim or the walk, but I always have a journal or sketchbook in case inspiration hits. (My kids do too. Every summer I buy everyone a fresh summer notebook.) This ensures that I am trusting my own creativity, they are trusting theirs, and we capture important ideas. This work always informs and helps the transition to more work in the fall.
How are you going to make work work for you this summer?
- Grab a piece of paper and start jotting down what is for summer and what is for fall. Don’t worry about being messy or crossing things out and moving things around. Play with it until it feels good to you.
- Think about what your days look like? Are they the same as during the rest of the year? Do you work longer or more intense days to have more days off? Do you work for different hours?
- Set a boundary around work time. How will you be present when you are at work? How will you be present when you are “off”?
- Schedule a work retreat for yourself.
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