My love for Simone de Beauvoir is well documented on this blog. But truth be told, my admiration is driven less by what she wrote than by the way she lived.
I love the long letters she and Sartre would write to one another, detailing their every thought and experience (proto bloggers?). I love the intensity of the relationships she had with her friends; the tight-knit, dysfunctional community she built; the sheer amount of time they spent together. I love the places she visited, the projects she worked on, the legacy she built.
I love the fact that despite her nickname being “The Beaver” (for her legendary work ethic), she actually only worked seven hours a day: three hours in the morning, and four in the evening. The afternoons she took off to socialise.**
So I’ve decided to try an experiment – to temporarily alter my routine to look more like Simone’s. Two medium sized, sharply focused bursts of work, punctuated with a break in the middle of the day to meet a friend for lunch, go to a museum, or exercise. As opposed to my current “routine” (if you could call it that), which usually involves long, meandering sessions of work, punctuated by falling down rabbit holes of internet commentary and malaise, with no clear beginning or end.
The idea? To focus more completely on work while I’m working. To separate my recreation from my work time. To feel more connected to my city and my community. To take advantage of the fact that I essentially set my own hours, instead of letting my work hours bleed into every waking hour.
Like I said, it’s an experiment. I may well abandon it within a couple of weeks, due to decreased productivity, increased spending, or a workload that literally requires me to spend 12+ hours a day staring at my computer screen. But changes don’t have to ‘work’ forever to be worthwhile. They just have to work for the moment.
Today’s excursion? A trip to the Whitechapel Gallery to see Gillian Wearing, whose posters I have been eying in Tube stations for weeks, and whose exhibit was even better than I hoped.
* Okay, not really (obviously), but you get the allusion.
** She also took 2-3 months holiday a year, apparently, which makes me laugh.
Elsewhere: Simone de Beauvoir’s Daily Routine