Decode #3 - Rhythm

Decode #3 - Rhythm

The 'rhythm' decode is all about analysing different patterns of movement.

Take a moment to think about all the natural rhythms we experience as humans. Our heart beats and our blood pumps. We get tired, hungry and thirsty. We respond to the circadian rhythm of day and night. Some of us are early birds, and some are night owls.

A growing attention to rhythm comes at a critical time. We need to articulate the benefits of alternative types of tempo, pace and flow to the technocratic drive to accelerate, move fast and break things.

Distinguish between types of time

Broadly speaking, we can distinguish between two different types of time:

  • Clock time = the hours and minutes that structure things like train timetables, appointments and working hours.
  • Lived Time = our experience of time, such as things speeding up when we’re excited, or slowing down when we are bored

The recent trend towards flexible working can be understood as a shift from clock-time to lived-time. People can develop their own life rhythms, as opposed to fitting around a pre-established routine

Strategy: there are circumstances when it is important to structure time, and others when unstructured time is best. Spend time thinking about when to deploy both of these models  

Describe the rhythms of daily life  

We are surrounded by social rhythms.

A household erupts in the morning with showers, toasters and slammed doors. It rests again at night with dishwashers, TV’s and the clicking off of lights. And out in the city we navigate around commuters, shoppers and tourists.

On a commute we transition between identities: from the domestic home to the professional workplace. During this journey - be it on train, car, bus or cycle, our - identity changes.

Strategy: sit somewhere where you can observe a busy part of the city, such as a coffeeshop. How would you describe all the different scenes, characters and events that are happen around you?

Develop a rhythmic vocabulary

Start paying attention to all the types of motion that surrounds you:

  • Getting into the flow at work
  • Becoming absorbed in a board-game
  • The ritual of buying a round of drinks
  • Going through the daily routine
  • Transitioning from home to work via a commute
  • Experiencing the intensity of a concert
  • Binging on a Netflix show
  • Sinking into the timelessness of intimacy
  • Riding the peaks and dips of caffeine
  • Enjoying the freedom of a festival
Strategy: much of this language can be collected by reading poems and novels. Writers are professionals when it comes to creating an impression of movement using words

Spot unhealthy rhythms

The language of rhythm can equip us with new insight into mental health problems. We can begin to articulate discordance, disharmony and noise.

This links rhythm to the discussion on care and wellness. We can ask: what is the rhythm of anxiety? Of stress? Of narcissism?

When imagined this way, we start to think of ways that we can help people develop more harmonious rhythms.

Strategy: practice articulating emotions using your rhythmic vocabulary  

Support working from home

For many people, the office is a compliant space that stifles the imagination: an ideological straitjacket designed in a different epoch. Forcing productive people to spend their time in the office is often illogical.

After all, contemporary anxiety is something we all experience and manage differently. As such, the ownership over ones own rhythm should be a central pillar of our new working identity.  

This conflicts with ideologies represented by the old managerial class. Many want to have visual control over their teams at all time. Whilst there are undoubtedly situations in which this control is necessary, there are other situations where this can be considered tyrannical.

Strategy: Use a rhythmic vocabulary to understand new healthy working patterns and rethink the workplace

Interview questions to help you think about 'rhythm':

  • When do you relax, and under what conditions?
  • Take me through your typical day
  • Do your working and personal rhythms overlap, or are they distinct?
  • Are you dating/in a relationship? How would you describe the rhythm of this?
  • Describe your commute to work. What do you see?
  • Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time?
  • How would you describe the energy of your household?
  • What annual events do you look forward to?
  • What is your favourite season? Why?
  • What type of evening activities do you partake in?
  • Do you enjoy shopping for clothes/food etc?

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