If you’ve tried to set a daily schedule but it failed to stick, you might have felt ineffective or inconsistent. On the other hand, if you’ve managed to create and maintain a daily schedule, part of you may miss the freedom that came with a free-flowing day in which anything could happen.
People adopt the idea of a daily schedule for the sake of living intentionally. It feels more meaningful to identify the activities we value and plan our days around those. It’s better than being blown about by whatever preoccupations a particular day presents.
As a highly open person, I’ve felt stifled by doing the same things in the same order every single day, no matter how much it helped me accomplish. And if I failed to do as I planned, my daily schedule, the thing I created to impose meaning onto my life, itself became the reason I felt disappointed and flustered.
So if you like the idea of having a schedule, but hate the rigidity that comes along with it, what can you do? Simple: exit the weekly paradigm.
Let’s face it: we’ve agreed as a society to structure time according to days, weeks, and months. But this is really just a tool to coordinate experience with other people. The truth is that time is a reflection of the movement of your mind. For this reason, you are free to organize your experience within any container you choose.
I’ve found that thinking of my weeks as days allows me to live more intentionally without renouncing anything I care about.
Let’s talk about the benefits of experiencing your weeks as days.
Benefit #1: Greater flexibility in where you put your attention
If you have multiple hobbies, interests, and obligations, and you squeeze them all into a daily schedule, you often only devote short bursts to each, and in so doing, you fail to get completely immersed in any one of them. Just as our sleep occurs in cycles, waking attention occurs within 90-minute intervals called ultradian rhythms.
The trouble is this: If you follow a strict schedule where you only allow yourself 20 minutes of writing and 30 minutes of harmonica each day (for example), you won’t be doing either activity long enough to reach your peak levels of engagement where your performance and immersion in the task will be at their height.
However, when your weeks become days, you get the chance to devote more time for individual activities without feeling like you’re slacking on another domain of your life.
What does this look like practically? Maybe it means on Tuesday you spend 90 minutes practicing your instrument of choice, and on Wednesday you devote your full attention to learning about best practices for training your new Cocker Spaniel. It looks different for everyone, but the goal is to engage completely in each activity without giving up variety and flexibility.
Benefit #2: Synchronize with the rhythms of your body
All humans go through psycho-emotional cycles. Simply put, some days you’re more at ease and on purpose than others. You probably have consecutive days in a row when you feel optimistic and energetic, only to suddenly encounter a low mood.
You’ll often struggle to find a straightforward reason that you’ve lost your normal sense of ease. You’ll cry or lash out without knowing why. And the truth is that your behavior may not be the result of circumstances. Instead it’s just a reflection of your status as a human being whose emotions often follow a predictable arch, not unlike the hero’s journey.
When you are tightly bound by a daily schedule, you’re overriding the natural rhythms of your body. On the days when you force yourself to abide by your schedule in spite of strong resistance, you might even find that the negativity is reflected in your performance or practice periods.
While there is no doubt a place for acting on principle instead of being driven by passing emotions, when you think about weeks as single days you can rest assured that you will make progress on the activities you care about. However, you’re more likely to do so from a place of ease, self- forgiveness and enjoyment.
Benefit #3: You can focus on progress rather than rigid and unconscious “measuring up”
“We seek our medication according to the configuration of a wound.” — Charles Eisenstein
When we impose limits or structure on ourselves, it’s often a veiled reaction to some form of pain. For instance, I tend to associate having skills with being worthy as a human being, meaning that if I’m not demonstrating or building on some talent or inclination, then I’m wasting my time.
While it’s often true that these defense mechanisms bring beauty and meaning to life, without a sensitivity to the motivations driving your actions, you can work yourself thin. What was once a fun form of self-expression or a meaningful tool for imposing structure in your life (like a daily schedule) can become a source of pain.
When you think about your weeks as days, you get the opportunity to fill your time with all sorts of things. This means that if scrolling through Twitter or reading your junk email is fun and enjoyable, you don’t have to cut it from your life. You can devote a window to it each week (or two or three windows; it’s up to you) without having the sense that you’re living unconsciously or without intention.
Days, weeks, and years are functional insofar as they allow us to coordinate our lives with the world around us. But within the inner space they are often more confining than useful.
Release the tight structures that define your perception of time. You’ll make room for a more intentional, more meaningful, and more freeing experience.