Last weekend Julia and I met up for an Up & Running work-o-rama in Amsterdam. Just over an hour’s flight from both Edinburgh and Bologna, it was the perfect place for an in-person summit. We were only there for three days but we found ourselves falling into a routine…
First, we’d wake up early and go for a run (her) or power walk (me). Despite all the photo stops I got an excellent huff and puff going.
Then we’d go to Our Favourite Café. It was quiet and cosy with a resident fluffy cat and beautifully presented breakfasts. When even a humble fruit salad looks like a bowl of jewels you can’t help but slow down and savour the heck out of it. I thought of my usual desk-bound oats-and-yogurt-scoffed-from-plastic-container and how easily I could make that meal more pleasant.
The next two mornings we’d pretend to ponder the menu as if we weren’t saddo café stalkers, then order the same thing as before.
After brekkie we’d walk a bit further, get some coffee then get to work. Julia would take out her ridiculously gigantic Up & Running rubber stamp and stamp our Up & Running wings on a fresh blank page and write the date. That was the official signal to switch the brain on!
Then we’d motor along right through the day, pausing only for another cuppa. I’d narrowed down our mega to do and ideas lists to an achievable agenda beforehand, so we knew exactly what we had to focus on. Zing, we were on fire!
Just before sunset we’d down tools as our stomachs were starting to grumble, then walk all the way back to the little apartment we’d rented. So much walking! I really regret washing that bloody FitBit… the stats would’ve been off the charts.
Then we’d have a nice early dinner, then back to the apartment for a final cuppa and a couple more hours work. Eating just two bigger meals would be impractical in everyday life (my soul would perish without lunch to look forward to ) but it worked like a champ for that work-a-thon situation.
Obviously when you’re away from home you don’t have partners, day jobs, laundry, family, housework etc etc to contend with. And you have to cook your own dinner. But the weekend was a great reminder of how I operate best. I relish routine and ritual. I lust over lists. I find freedom in planning and structure. Sometimes I rebel against that that because it sounds boring, but if I like it… why fight it?
Next time I feel wonky I’ll come back to this list and remember what feels good:
- Keeping meals simple and quite repetitive (less thinking required)…
- … but making a real meal of out of them (because the more I enjoy the meal at the time, the less brain-space food takes up later. So focus on the food; put it on a nice plate!)
- Moving my butt each day at roughly the same time (so it feels more auto-piloty)
- On both a weekly and daily basis, narrowing down the priorities and what really needs to be done (instead of getting overwhelmed by the big picture and flapping around)
- Making time to write each day (clears out the brain)
- When feeling grumpy, step away from the desk and get some air (before my bum becomes perma-welded to the chair)
- If I decide to have a treaty food, making sure it’s worth it (like this amazing apple pie we saved right until the last day… hubba hubba!)