Work (and play) in spikes, not slogs

Graphic of a deer running through a field.

Since going part-time last year, my schedule has become more fragmented then ever. To an outsider it could certainly look like a nightmare of context switching. However, I’ve started to become more comfortable with my routine being very “on and off” and, instead of viewing it like a long slog, I view it like a series of spikes. It’s starting to even feel, dare I say, natural.

My days used to look like a lot like this: sneak in some exercise, wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooork, make dinner, read books with kids, get really sleepy, go to bed. It felt kind of like a slog:

doing stuff slog

Now a typical day might go like this: wake kids, make breakfast and lunches, walk to school, sneak in some exercise, work for a couple hours, pickup kids from school, run an errand, play a game, do one admin thing, make dinner for everyone, work again for a couple hours, resist urge to watch netflix/play games, go to sleep. It feels more like this:

doing stuff spike

I once read that humans are more like lions than zebras. We aren’t wired to graze slowly and consistently. We’re hunters and (hopefully) we have bursts of energy (and creativity), attacking our work or play with full attention. In between our “hunts” we need to recharge. Sometimes for a long time.

I started to work split shifts (some in the morning, some at night) out of a necessity to look after the kids and have a little time to exercise, but it never felt like a drag and still doesn’t. Because I know when I’m going to be “on”, my body seems trained to respond (ok, coffee also helps). My up and down, on and off schedule has always seemed more natural than the alternative long day at the office.

I didn’t think much about it until I was asked by a slightly worried coworker whether it this whole schedule was really sustainable. But I identify with the lion and I think the same rhythm applies not only to my days, but to a certain respect my weeks, months, and years.

Of course, some days still feel like this:

doing stuff crazy

My habits change with the seasons but, for now, I love my spiky schedule.

Comments welcome!