There are seasons of crazy and seasons of growth, and this season is crazy.
The summer-to-fall transition is always a little nuts; this year that is truer than ever.
I forgot how much work back-to-school season is, with its errands and meetings and paperwork and unfamiliar routines. Before we finished the laundry from our summer vacation, we were already prepping for fall travel. Living without a kitchen sink (because of our remodel in progress) is not helping.
Even though this season is crazy, I’m determined to keep it from feeling like it. One of the ways I’m doing that is by scheduling time to practice old skills and learn new ones—that personal growth stuff—even though in previous years I would have told myself I didn’t have time.
I’m adopting a trick I learned from Gretchen Rubin called “the power hour” to grow my skills, slowly but steadily.
In her book Happier at Home, Rubin describes her “power hour.” She schedules 60 minutes each week to tackle those those small, mildly unpleasant tasks that are important but not urgent, and therefore, likely to not get done at all—like replacing her broken office chair, or donating outgrown clothes to a thrift store.
I loved the idea, and scheduled my own—although I tweaked it. In my own weekly “power hour,” I’m focusing on tasks that usually belong to a season of growth: the ones that help me grow my skills, master new tools, try new things.
It’s only September 7, but so far it’s working.
Unless something truly extraordinary is happening (a move, a vacation) I stick to my weekly hour. (If I skip one week, I’m likely to skip the next: I need the routine.) In a season of growth, I can devote more than one hour a week to courses and classes, but in a season of crazy, I’m thankful to get that hour. (An added bonus: ironically, I feel like I have better control of my schedule when I spend time each week focusing on the long-term and not the urgent.)
I’ve discovered another funny thing: taking time out to learn new skills and master new tools is often—not always, but more than I expected—saving me time in the long run.
I thought I didn’t have time to learn Lightroom—which I’ve been meaning to do for years, no joke—and finally signed up for an account on a whim, when a friend was over and said she could show me how to get started in 15 minutes. She helped me overcome the hump that is getting started, and showed me tricks for taking and processing photos that started saving me time immediately.
I thought I didn’t have time to really learn Scrivener—a robust but notoriously complicated writing program—but I finally coughed up the money to buy Learn Scrivener Fast, spent two hours working through tutorials, and am immediately reaping the benefits.
This fall, I’m planning on using my power hour to work through the resources I picked up in the Digital Photography Bundle, take a Craftsy classes (I downloaded one as a bonus from the recent Bundle sale), and catch up on a bunch of my saved TED talks. (Heads up—another Bundle goes on sale this week.)
My power hour specifics change as I learn new skills and take on new challenges; it even changes with the season. Everybody’s power hour will look different: for you it might look like reading Jane Austen (that would make me so happy), or designing a new tote bag, or trying a new recipe, or learning a new kettlebell workout.
I’d love to hear if you set aside time or find another way to learn new things. Do you have your own power hour, or its equivalent?