08 May That time I scheduled “intimacy” as a recurring task
Now before your mind jumps into the gutter, I’m talking about emotional intimacy.
Because amidst Zoom Kindergarten, constantly (and I mean constantly) doing dishes and laundry, while potty training our 2 year old… adult time has been scarce, to say the least.
(And if you’re baking sourdough with your fiancée – screw you! Kidding… I’m just jealous.)
And when Lisa and I do have time to connect, the conversation goes as follows:
“So I’ll work out at 10, you’ll cover the Morning Workbook?”
“Yup, then at 11, we have the library call, you’ll take Amelie for a walk?”
“Ok, and at 3, can I Zoom with my family? Sure, I’ll call my friend Philip.”
“Could you grab some limes at the grocery store? Don’t forget your mask!”
By the time 8 pm rolls around, we barely have enough strength to lift the tiny silver Apple TV remote.
But the yearning to communicate as husband-and-wife is there.
We haven’t had the chance to talk about the important things in life:
“How are you feeling about your parents in NYC?”
“What parts of this quarantine shall we preserve once the lockdowns are lifted?”
“Where are you struggling right now?”
And so we hit snooze. Accompanied by the dangerous mindset, “when this quarantine ends, then we’ll rediscover emotional intimacy.”
The classic when-then trap.
The funny thing is that this was an issue in our marriage looonnnnnnng before the quarantine. (I know, funny how that works.)
And so the productivity nerd in me hatched up a plan.
I created a recurring task.
The first time it popped up, it worked!
I walked over to her and said, “Hey, I just want to check-in.”
But, the following week, I just marked it as complete.
And it was all downhill from there. 8 weeks later, I deleted the damn recurring task.
Now Emotional Intimacy is just one example of one of these “gray area” tasks.
Unlike paying your rent – there’s no due dates for emotional intimacy.
And creating an artificial due date – never works.
But that doesn’t make them any less important.
This is the classic “Important, but Not Urgent” conundrum. This category spans wide swaths of your life:
- Spending quality 1:1 time with each kid, individually
- Learning a skill (i.e. public speaking) to make you better at your job
- Building genuine relationships in your industry
- Improving the quality of your sleep
- Recruiting for a role that isn’t even open yet
These activities (it’s a disservice to call them tasks) are critical – yet we hit snooze on them all the time.
Let’s look at them from a continuum of action-ability:
The left side, things with due dates are easy. You do ’em.
And on the right side, things you consume are easy. There’s no penalty for snoozing that Paul Graham blog post.
But that middle category? Caveat Emptor!
Now imagine you had an intelligent assistant who surfaced these actions to you with regularity.
The assistant might say:
“Hey, it’s been a month since you had a recruiting dinner – time to consider one?”
“You haven’t gotten Ice Cream with your daughter in two weeks – time to set up a date?”
To borrow James Clear’s language from Atomic Habits, these are Cues or Nudges.
Subtle reminders to keep you accountable. Cues to plant seeds for your future self.
Wouldn’t that be nice?