fitness · holidays

Radical incrementalism and micro-adventures

As we’re heading into spring (slowly) here in my part of Canada, many of my friends, neighbours, and colleagues are talking about summer vacation plans.

I may be an academic (we’re notorious for not really vacationing and reading and writing while doing so) but I’ve always taken holidays seriously. That is, I take time off work and deliberately get away from my job. I don’t make rules about not reading philosophy or working on papers, and I do do some of that, I do it at my pace and sometimes don’t do it all.

Canadians aren’t Europeans. We don’t tend to take big chunks of time off work. But we aren’t Americans either. We do tend to take some time off during the summer.

That said, this year will be different for me. Spring will begin with 6-12 weeks of medical leave while I recover from knee replacement surgery. I don’t think I’ll feel like vacation right after that. And I’ll have physio twice a week all summer. I don’t think I’ll want to stray too far away from town that often. So this has my mind turning once again to small adventures.

I also enjoyed reading this: Taking Small Adventures Might Make You Just as Happy as Climbing Everest.

“In his book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman briefly references the concept of radical incrementalism. Burkeman writes about psychology professor Robert Boice, who studied writing habits of other academic professionals. Boice found that PhD students who wrote a little bit per day—even as little as 10 minutes—were more productive and less anxious than those who tried to write in big chunks (which they often procrastinated on until they had a deadline coming up).

Radical incrementalism has been mostly embraced in academia, policymaking, and even self-improvement. But I think it’s also an interesting way to look at having more fun: Instead of wishing I had the money and time to take a month or several to do some sort of very notable human-powered adventure to the top of a mountain or across a country, how about doing some less-notable stuff near where I live every week, or every month?” 

I’ve written about this a bit before…

I love the idea of treating weekends like a vacation. So while I don’t plan to take a lot of time off this summer, I’m thinking I will plan lots of long weekends–biking, sailing, swimming, boating, camping…

But I am also thinking some weeknight evening drives to the beach might be in order too. Each summer, at the end, I regret that I didn’t go swimming more often and spend more time at the beach.

Even at work it feels especially summery when I take my lunch outside and chat with friends, or read fiction.

What kind of micro-adventures do you think you might get up this summer?

Water, photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash

One thought on “Radical incrementalism and micro-adventures

  1. I go on microholidays sometimes by riding my bike to the beach in the middle of a work day in spring or summer and having an ice cream while looking at the lake. I sit on a bench for half an hour or so then ride home and go back to work. It’s amazing how satisfying this is.

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