A Regular Rhythm of Refreshment

Every week, my phone delivers a "Screen Time" update...it is always a little depressing. In glowing radiance is the indisputable evidence that having even one game on my phone can create a small obsession. Then there's the social media platforms, which, despite the fact that I put them three pages deep on my phone still find their way into the top five. Imagine how much more could be accomplished if I could improve these readings?!

Now, not everything done on a phone is useless. Even though the actual phone function is the least used, there is a lot of good productivity that comes from this device. Yet, so many of us busy ourselves with a seemingly endless list of tasks, projects, responsibilities, and time-wasters. We then lose hold of the very ideals, hopes, dreams and purposes we once thought were important to pursue. In recent years, we've moved from a promotion of "multi-tasking" to being overwhelmed at just how many different people and projects can vie for our attention. Perhaps it's time to take back our schedule.  


"To master the art of deep work, therefore, you must take back control of your time and attention from the many diversions that attempt to steal them.  If you give your mind something meaningful to do throughout all your waking hours, you’ll end the day more fulfilled, and begin the next one more relaxed, than if you instead allow your mind to bathe for hours in semiconscious and unstructured Web surfing."  
(p.214, Cal Newport, Deep Work

What if we learned to manage our time and devices, rather than allow them to manage us. We are being numbed to the constant pinging of notifications that vie for their attention. At then at the end of the day, we wonder: 
- why are we exhausted?
- why isn't our homework done?
- why isn't our fitness better?
- why does work seem overwhelming and unsatisfying?
- why can't we move forward or make improvements?
- where did the time go? 


"A workday driven by the shallow, from a neurological perspective, is likely to be a draining and upsetting day, even if most of the shallow things that capture your attention seem harmless or fun." (p.82)


Some of the ways that I have been learning (it's a constant process) to enter into deep work: 
- schedule time to initiate email. 
- allocate specific times of the week to work on different areas of my job (i.e. in my world, I do admin related tasks on Tuesdays). 
- turn off my email app while I'm researching, studying and writing.  
- silence all notifications on my phone on non-admin days. Respond to notifications at specific designated intervals. 

However, the most significant adjustment came a few years ago, when I finally understood the importance of ordering the rhythm of my life according to the rhythm that God has laid out for us. Each day He declared was good, or even "very good" on day six! But each day has a period of darkness, followed by a dawning of light. There is a rhythm that moves from work to rest and from rest to an anticipation that grows with the light.  But then also notice that there is another rhythm. And at the end of six days, on the seventh day, there is full period of rest. This rest is missing for so many people, who get consumed by not just the urgent but more and more, the trivial. As I continue to learn through this rhythm, I have been able to participate in an increasing amount of significant work locally and globally. 

These are some of the key ideas that are transforming my life: 
-       When its time to work…work!...this seems to be a dying characteristic. We are quick to complain, we lack commitment, we expect ease, leisure, entertainment and recreation.
-       A daily and weekly rhythm of rest is necessary.
-       The rest is blessed and then God blesses the rest..don't feel guilty about good rest.
-       Rest is an acknowledgement that I am not in control.

-       Rest is a humble recognition that God is at work and moves me into the peace of Jesus’ invitation (Matt. 11:17-18)

Newport speaks of a rhythmic philosophy, and perhaps this is along those lines. In the creation account, we read that the Rest, the Sabbath, is blessed. We often push ourselves in the hopes that our efforts and work would be blessed, but it is here in the opening pages of the Scriptures, where our purposes are designed, that we recognize that the rest is blessed. Which must mean, that because the rest is blessed, then the rest of our work, our week, is blessed through the rest in which we engage on a daily and weekly basis. A rhythm is established that invites God to renew and refresh for what lies ahead in the week to come. An absence of rest, can result in reduced capacity to function and higher stress, reduced patience and increased anxiety. 

Learn to embrace the rhythm that God has laid out for us. As Newport says, enjoy the deep work of being more productive, more consistently.  This is important for students, learning to not wait till the last minute to do their homework. It’s important for adults, to break free from their always "busy" schedules. Learn to let go of the chaos of the day and begin afresh on a new day. Learn to break completely, re-create and rejuvenate your capacity and enjoy the blessing of God, so that from the blessing through rest and renewal, your work can go well. 

How do you fight against the endless stream of notification overload and work effectively toward the big goals/dreams that reside within you?