Add Nothingness to Your Schedule

Don’t waste summer rushing from one event to the next.

Growing up, my mom had a large calendar full of her handwriting around which it seemed the entire world revolved. I think maybe these calendars are mailed with your marriage license or child tax credit as a right of passage for families. Our’s must have been lost in the mail, so we made our own with a whiteboard.

Looking back to youthful (20 something-ish) days, I don’t think anyone I knew at the time maintained a calendar of this sort. Most big trips I took with friends were planned in a matter of weeks, maybe a month- tops. But now I’m having discussions about August in March! With more than one text from a friend griping that: “Our calendar is filling up!”

The thing of it is, so is ours.

What changed? Back in the day I still had a job, friends, bills, family… but no calendar or anything resembling a schedule where I plotted out the coming year, everything just happened, seemingly at its cosmically, preordained time.

Most likely, the only difference is my expectation. The world at 23 (as it is for many of us) is perceived as wide open with plenty of opportunities. The concept of finite time was laughable, to say the least. This idea of plenty was happily ignorantly incongruous with urgency.

And that is what a schedule is an acknowledgment of… urgency. A statement of things that must be completed on/by the arbitrarily set date. A checklist to fleeting success, so to speak.

Now, if you’ve read this far and are looking for the comment section so you can say: “But I love my calendar!”… skip to the bottom, leave the response and move on with your day. 

However, if some nagging inner muse is telling you that a little spontaneity might be in order, see the common excuses below and their solutions.

Excuse #1: Once you have kids you need to be on a schedule. There is the family to think about and kids need structure.

Almost as if it’s written in the parenting law books, kids always seem to generate a Spreadsheet for meal planning… I get where it’s coming from, but just think, if flying by the seat of your pants was good in your low 20s, it stands to reason that those even younger will enjoy it just as much. 

Annie sits in a tent at a canoe access.
A spontaneous campsite.

The thing of it is, kids certainly bring about their own required appointments, and I recognize that grandparents want to be a part of the next generation… so you schedule all of those things until suddenly, the leaves are changing and Target is advertising their back-to-school supplies.

So don’t give too much of your summer away. That’s a sure way to make the time fly too fast.

Excuse #2: If we don’t make reservations all the good campsites/cabins/accesses will be full and we can’t go.

Ironically, fear of not having a good adventure is often what gets in the way of a good adventure. 

Some of my favorite childhood memories include an extemporaneous ice cream run, followed by a drive through the State Wildlife Refuge. It was one of these times my dad and I saw two bucks fighting… but I digress.

Even if the campsite/cabin/etc. you wanted is taken, the lesson of being resilient and trouble-shooting in adversity may result in a better family moment. Plus, you’ll have been free from the commitment the whole time.

Hot dog cooking along the river.
Throw the ketchup in a jar and pick up buns on the way!

Excuse #3: If I don’t schedule the time off, I’ll never go.

There is a lot to focus on here. But I’ll spare you the don’t-make-your-job-your-life philosophical lecture… at least for today. 

Speaking as someone who has had the past 10 summers off (teacher), I can honestly say that scheduled time off never guaranteed anything. In fact, I’ve done plenty of exciting outdoor adventures on an impulsive Friday “mental health day.” 

And before you get up in arms about the ethics in this, think for a moment about every other individual choice we get to make in this society. Don’t you have the right to decide what sickness means to you?

So maybe you need to schedule time off for that trip to Hawaii, but who’s to say you can’t take a quick trip to Duluth with that banked PTO?

Ultimately, schedules aren’t going away any time soon.

There’s a time and a place for calendars (pun intended), however, here’s your opportunity to start carving out weekends of nothing, too.

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This post was written by Nick Schmitz, March 2021.

Nick sits in canoe and Luna swims in the water

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ben

    I’ll take spontaneity any day, anytime

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