When did you last feel excited and apprehensive? That’s just how I felt as I looked at my diary on Monday morning and thought “it’s this week”. Three full-on days of meetings.
Pretty much everything we do, at The Curious Piano Teachers, is online. That includes about 85% of the meetings that my co-director Sally Cathcart and I have via Skype. However, this week we’ve had three days of live, face-to-face meetings.
Now I LOVE these live meetings – the energy, the vibrancy of the experience, the progress and the time-out when Sally and I go swimming and walking (so good!) Yet I’ll admit that on Monday morning I was feeling exhausted. “How will I ever muster the energy, the creativity, that I need to get through the next couple of days” I thought. Not to mention the niggling 4-letter word “blog” (I’d no idea what I was going to write or where I was going to find the time to write it).
We’d already ear-marked Wednesday as our ‘Blue Sky Day’ – where we planned to spend the day with our heads above the clouds, planning for the months ahead. (I now realise that it was the idea of sitting at a desk that was that was crushing my excitement).
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO HAVE A DAY THAT'S FREE FROM THE TYRANNY OF SOCIAL MEDIA - Tweet quote
I picked Sally up from the airport on Tuesday morning and within 10 minutes she suggested that we go away for our Blue Sky Day. I loved the idea – yet a fretful voice inside me said “but there’s so much to do”. It sounded a bit like a “jolly” – a day out from work, ostensibly on some kind of work-based mission but actually just going for a laugh (so says the Urban Dictionary). Nonetheless, I felt distinctly more excited, energised and enthused.
Our Blue Sky Day dawned – and it was indeed a blue sky day (check out our photo album on Facebook), clear and sunny. We set out shortly after 8am and returned home 13 hours later. It was one of the best ‘work’ days I’ve ever had. Here’s what I discovered – with 6 things you need to know when planning your Blue Sky Day.
6 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR A PRODUCTIVE BLUE SKY DAY
- FREEDOM. Think about it: when did you last have a day free from the tyranny of social media, of dealing with emails as they ‘ping’ into your inbox in an effort to stay up-to-date with replies? In fact, have you ever noticed how you can have a busy day, keeping pace with what people fire at you, and yet it’s completely unproductive? You’ve worked hard and feel exhausted without moving an inch further towards the goals that matter to you – and that’s deeply frustrating. One advantage of a Blue Sky Day is that you grant yourself permission to not engage; this feels very liberating and allows us to be productive.
- FOCUS. In an interview on the podcast This Is Your Life Greg McKeown, the best-selling author of Essentialism, talks about the need to schedule “off-site” days to connect with our priorities. If we’re not intentional about the future, we’ll drift and end up at destinations we didn’t consciously choose. However, it’s essential to start your Blue Sky Day with a clear list of what to discuss. In fact, Sally and I even used the route as a way of chunking the time we spent discussing certain topics. (So the first leg of the journey, before our first coffee stop at Ballygally Castle, was spent discussing our new video series).
- FLEXIBILITY. In addition to having that clear list of discussion topics, it’s important that you don’t have fixed ideas of an outcome. Stick to your discussion topic, but keep an open mind.
- FLOW. This is when we feel fully immersed and joyful when doing something without distractions. Csikszentmihalyi (who coined the term ‘flow’) talks about this concept on a TED Talk.
- FRIENDS. Coming home in the car, I observed that what we’d achieved just couldn’t have been achieved without having each other to bounce around ideas. So why not organise a Blue Sky Day with piano teaching friends? Create that list, that discussion topic, and set the date.
- FUN. Sometimes we just don’t allow ourselves to realise that we can be hugely productive whilst having fun, right? On Wednesday we enjoyed a long day in the beautiful outdoors with stunning scenery. The day didn’t whizz past like most days do either. Instead we were very much ‘in the moment’ and that led to amazing discussions and discoveries. We had a breakthrough just before our first coffee stop at Ballygally Castle. We were reminded of how important it is to Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway (Susan Jeffers) at Carrick-a-Rede rope-bridge, suspended almost 100 feet above sea level – I’m not keen on heights. We sang songs (in alphabetical order according to the first word of the song) as we walked up the 162 steps at the Giants Causeway. And then the notes for this blog were created on the journey back home.
- ps. FOOD! This is more important than you might think and it’s good to have a basic plan of where you’ll stop on your road trip. It’s also the excitment and anticipation of where and what to eat! We loved our lunchtime stop-over at Bob & Berts in Ballycastle. The one thing we didn’t have was ice-cream (despite it being a sunny summer day on the coast). Well, I guess there’s always next time…
We’d love you to comment below
- Where would you go on a Blue Sky Day?
- Who would you take with you?
- What topic/s might you discuss?
ps. If you go on a Blue Sky Day, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d LOVE to feature your day in a blog article!