It’s been a wonderful summer so far and I’ve been making the most of it. The sunshine and heat we’ve experienced this year has had a restorative effect, not only on me, but on most people I’ve spoken to.
After the longest, coldest winter in my living memory, most people were utterly depleted by the beginning of the summer and just hanging on for signs of rising temperatures, rain and cloud abating and the return of the sun.
I was definitely at a low ebb, with my vitamin D and iron levels below normal and unable to function properly due to an underactive thyroid.
The Summer of 2013
Then the summer arrived properly at the end of June and suddenly life took a different turn.
There were friends to see, parties to attend, holidays to enjoy, gardens to be tended and watered. Weekends were spent going on long country walks or enjoying a snooze under the cherry tree after a morning’s toil in the vegetable patch.
But there was still work that needed to be done. Work that involved writing, editing and developing my business, indoors, on the computer.
Stressed Out and Feeling Guilty
I found myself feeling stressed out. I was having such a good time enjoying summer activities that I was neglecting my work, particularly my writing. There just wasn’t enough time to do everything I wanted or needed to do. It was time to prioritise.
After the long winter I really didn’t want to be inside stuck on the computer if I could help it. We also had a good friend from America staying with us and I wanted to spend time with her and have some fun.
But my sense of guilt and stress was overwhelming. The little voice in my head kept on saying, ‘I should be working. I have so much to do. I’m so behind on my work,’ and so on.
Then, one evening, while enjoying a leisurely dinner al fresco, I was describing my growing sense of panic to my partner and our house guest when I had a Eureka moment.
‘Why not live seasonally?’ I said.
They both looked at me, confused.
What I meant was that throughout the year we change our lifestyle according to the seasons – we may change our clothes, eating habits and do different activities.
For example, I don’t eat the same way all year round. In summer I can’t get enough iced drinks, fresh fruit and salads. But at the first sign of chill in the air, I’ll be cooking a hearty casserole, opening a bottle of red wine and drinking more herbal teas instead of cold water.
And being a gardener, I’m used to doing different tasks in the garden at different times of year. Spring is a busy time for planting, autumn is when you start packing up and putting the garden to bed for the winter.
Why not change the way we work?
A Seasonal Approach to Work
In winter I tend to hibernate. I hardly go out into the garden, and if the weather’s bad I don’t like to go out at all. I prefer to stay at home and read and write and focus on work.
I love the feeling of contentment that comes from being warm and cosy inside, working on the computer on a cold, dreary winter’s day.
But come the summer I’m a whole new person. I’m more sociable for a start. And more than anything else, I want to be outside. Away from my desk, my books and files and most importantly, away from my computer.
Who says we have to stick to the same work routine month in and month out? It’s not that practical. Surely it makes more sense to adapt our working lives to the ebb and flow of the seasons.
One of the benefits of being self-employed is that I can structure my time the way I want. By adapting to each season I could introduce a variety of routines and activities into my life as the year progresses, taking up new ones and letting others go.
Different Work for Different Seasons
Ideally, it would be great to have different jobs for different seasons. Work that takes me outdoors in the spring and summer months and something desk based in the colder months, but I’m not there yet.
From now on, I’m going to approach work seasonally and, instead of feeling guilty about being unproductive, I’m going to accept that for this one season my focus is going to be elsewhere.
It’s time not entirely wasted as I’m sure I’m drawing in energy and inspiration, and loads of vitamin D as well, to see me through the months ahead.
I know that come the autumn I’ll be ready to buckle down and get on with some real work. It’ll be so much easier knowing that I’ve had a summer to remember.