On Wednesday evening I recorded “Ten (Or So) Things That Are Happening Right Now,” and I was grateful for the live attendance of colleagues around the world. “Revitalizing, encouraging, humane, hopeful” — these are the adjectives folks used to describe the two hours of recorded content. It should work well for individuals, teams, or schools, and it's priced at “Pay What You Want.” (Recommended purchase price = $10 per person.)
Need some food for thought or a hug for the heart? You can get your copy here.
Since the COVID closures of spring 2020, I've longed to deepen the degree to which the practice of simplicity is an integrated part of my life. If you've read my work, you know I come by such a longing honestly — I'm a bit obsessed with the reduction of our work in education to its essence, to its bits that matter most.
Why this simplicity fixation?
Because I'm finite — and you are, too. There's only so much we can do, so much we can think about, so many tasks we can accomplish, so many efficiencies we can uncover. And the predominant messages of our world and profession are decidedly antithetical to this reality of human finitude. We need to do more, learn more, think more, achieve more, grow more… and the way to do this is via cramming more in: more consumption, more commitments, more meetings.
When the lockdowns started lifting and the frantic pace of modern life resumed, my wife, Crystal, and I looked at our calendars and reflected on a few questions before we started signing up for things again. In case they might help you and your loved ones in this crazy time, I'm including them below.
Question 1: What recurring commitment on my calendar is good in theory but not in practice?
- Kids' sports or clubs?
- Recurring gatherings?
Ask: Am I seeing that these commitments are actually producing what I hoped would be produced? Is the impact I hoped this would have really happening? When I see this on my calendar, do I feel refreshed and excited… or anxious or resentful?
Question 2: How could I withdraw from any commitments on my calendar — even if only for a season — without sacrificing my integrity?
For anything at all that got flagged in Question 1, ask:
- What would be the worst thing to happen if I withdrew from this commitment — if only for a season?
- What would be the best thing that could happen from withdrawing from this? What unexpected benefits might there be?
- What exactly have I committed to here — involvement for a set time period? A certain role?
- What would be the quickest path for me to withdraw from this without reneging on the exact commitments I've made?
- With whom do I need to talk about my withdrawal plans for this commitment? When is the soonest I can do that?
Question 3: What's not on my calendar but uses up at least an hour per day and therefore maybe should be? If I had to calendarize that activity, would I want to? Or would I seek to withdraw from the activity instead?
Here we're trying to make visible the invisible habits that can consume an hour per day of our lives. I'm talking news, social media, recurring, superficial conversations, television, Netflix, games on your phone, etc.
- If I had to calendarize this — to see it on my calendar each day as a place where my time is going, a commitment I'm making — would I like that or not?
- If not, what would I like to use that one or two or three hours for instead?
For more practical bits of help like this series of questions…
Get “Ten (Or So) Things That Are Helping Right Now.” This post's “Reflection Questions for a Simpler, Clearer Calendar” is just one of dozens of morsels for thought that I share in the recording.