the rhythm of a double life

December 2, 2009 | 5 Comments

On my trip to New York in October, I was sitting in a restaurant on the Upper West Side with Michael Rudzena, Ben Sternke, and Jon Tyson. We got into a discussion on what our typical weekly schedules look like. It was a helpful conversation, and I was reminded of it earlier this week as Todd shared his tri-vocational schedule.

I love conversations like this, as they provide an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of how I spend my time. Seeing the priorities of others helps illuminate my own. So, picking up from my post on Monday, here’s my weekly rhythm to give you something to weigh against your own.

I help get my daughter ready and take her to school every day. I like being able to walk her to her class, both to show her how special she is, and to have a chance to get to know other kids and parents from her school.

After I drop her off, I spend most mornings in a locally owned coffee shop. There are two or three I frequent. Being a regular means that I have a lot of ongoing contact and have gotten to know other regulars — freelancers and others who can work from anywhere. That means most mornings I end up engaged in a few conversations that aren’t on my schedule or to-do list, but I value these times and don’t see them as an interruption.

I try to start my day by reading 3-4 chapters — I usually have a few different books going at once. I usually follow this up with some journaling or maybe a blog post that stirred out of my reading. Starting my day by interacting with a few ideas energizes me, and if I go a few days without this, I can tell a difference.

The rest of the morning, I usually focus on church related stuff. This is lesson prep, planning, catching up on email, meeting with people or sometimes a mid-morning coffee with someone from aMS or another ministry connection. This leads end to lunch, which is often a meeting, or I’ll head home and grab something there.

At home in the afternoon, I focus more on design work where I can connect my laptop the 23″ monitor and mouse I have at my desk. I do end up doing church work about one afternoon a week if I need to do administrative tasks with access to all my hard files.

This is a general breakdown, but it never flows this easily. My design work often feeds into my church work, and vice versa. I try not to draw hard and fast lines around each.

Most evenings, I do my best to be home, at least until the kids are in bed. I like cooking, and end helping with or making dinner most evenings. It’s tough to disengage from work when your computer is connected to the universe right down the hall, but I try to spend some good time with my kids right up until we tuck them in. After, I’ll be out one or two evenings a week, connecting with people who aren’t available during the day (or being home with the kids while Sherri connects with someone). I also find that I have a different kind of creative energy if I get out of the house at night, so once in a while, I’ll go out to do some creative focused work.

We do our best to take Saturday as a family Sabbath. For us, this is a day without responsibility (or as little responsibility as you can have with three kids). It might mean going out on an adventure, or relaxing around the house. Often, I’ll stop working mid-afternoon on Friday when my daughter comes home from school to begin our Sabbath as a family…or maybe even a date with my wife.

Sunday starts with a lot of work, but ends with some bonus Sabbath time. Having aMS meet in our home means we spend a chunk of time on Sunday getting our house ready. But Sunday evening brings more Sabbath, as we share food, prayer, and community with others from aMS.

Of course, my week rarely plays out exactly like this, and I would go nuts if it did. There is a difference between a rhythm and a routine. This general flow is my rhythm, but if it were to become a rigid routine, it would take more life from me than it would give.

  • This is really helpful, John. Thanks. I would like to do a post like this soon, but we’re still in such a strange transitional phase that every week for me looks slightly different. I am looking forward to a more stable rhythm, actually. Seeing yours is helpful. Thanks again.

  • Thanks…if I recall, I don’t think you had the chance to share your schedule that day, so I’d like to hear how it comes together.

  • Ben Harms

    Thanks a ton for posting this John! So helpful. I’m currently amidst working three jobs as well… all self-directed. It’s been nearly impossible to manage over the past month and this post has really pushed me to remember to create a structure that can help enable a much healthier rhythm to it all.

    In fact, I’m getting away this afternoon to do a little evaluation of it all.

    Thanks a ton friend!

  • Worth

    Gracias for this post John. You’re schedule seems something like what Beth and I are aspiring to as new parents. Your thoughts about your personal take on the fine line between routine, rhythm, and rigidity are especially helpful to me, so I wanted to tell you so! 🙂

  • Michael Rudzena

    Thanks for the reminder, John. I really enjoyed that conversation. When I begin to blog, I’ll do a similar post! 🙂 I think the way you begin your days by engaging ideas and responding through journal or blog is brilliant and shows a great deal of self-understanding.