As many of you know, we (Dallas and Melissa) have a pretty non-traditional work schedule. We set our own work hours mid-week, but come Friday through Monday, we’re usually on the road conducting our Foundations of Nutrition and advanced topics Trainer’s workshops. This means we don’t get a “weekend” like most of you do – and for those of you who also own your own business, you know the very idea of a “day off” can be hard to come by.
Last June, we realized that our business had completely taken over our personal lives. We were a few months into running the Whole9 as our full-time job, and were too busy reacting to incoming business (emails, workshop requests, consulting requests) to be proactive about establishing healthy business vs. personal boundaries. We decided this just would not do.
At our old (9-5) jobs, we worked five days a week, for about 9 hours a day. When our day was done, for the most part, so were our job-related concerns. We left them at the office, came home and attended to personal things – housework, errands, training, reading books or watching movies. Weekends were always exclusively our own, save for the rare office emergency or overtime requirement.
But when the business is your own, all the rules are different. First, you don’t punch a clock, you can’t “let someone else deal with it” and there is often no time when you feel it’s acceptable to shut off, tune out and stop thinking about work. When your business is primarily conducted in a global market via the internet, there are no “office hours”, either. Folks are trying to connect with you all hours of the day and night, asking questions and soliciting advice via email, Facebook, Twitter and the web site. The perceived need to immediately connect with every potential client, workshop attendee, customer or reader makes it hard to resist typing up a quick response right then and there, despite the fact that it’s 10 PM on a Thursday. Finally, when a big portion of your business is conducted on most people’s weekends, forcing you to work when everyone else is “off”, well… you can see how it could be hard to establish any routine personal time at all.
Back in June 2010, we decided that having no personal life – no regular, weekly time blocked off just for US – was a really unhealthy way to live, and didn’t jibe with our present or future personal goals. Dallas grew up observing Saturday as the Sabbath – a day when his family would go to church, then spend the day together resting and relaxing. He remembered his family Sabbath days fondly, as it was the one day during the week when the family had nothing to do but be together and interact – no school, no chores, no errands or work. So we devised a plan, a way to take back one day a week, just for us. Call it our Saturday, call it our Sabbath… we just call it our Tuesday.
Every Tuesday, we take the day off. Like, OFF off. For one, we don’t work – not even in an emergency. If the web site blows up, if our workshop host cancels last minute, if a consulting client is experiencing a nut-butter-related emergency, it’s gonna have to wait. We don’t check or respond to email, we don’t respond to Facebook or Twitter questions, we don’t make business calls. We don’t fly, either – flying is the very antithesis of a day off. We also don’t train on Tuesdays, ever, even if our training is suffering, or our schedule is so busy we’ve missed days earlier in the week.
We don’t conduct commerce on that day – no errands, no shopping, no on-line transactions or paying bills. If there’s some meal ingredient we’re missing come Tuesday morning, we do without. If the car doesn’t have enough gas to get to the mountains, we just don’t go. It requires some planning and preparation, but the hassle of a grocery store check-out line, an automated customer service menu or even the five minutes it takes to fill up at the gas station is the exact opposite of what Tuesday should feel like. One last thing – we don’t do household chores either, so if the recycling needs to be taken out or there’s laundry sitting in the hamper, so be it. It will, we’ve discovered, wait. All of it, in fact, will wait.
Sometimes, We Do Nothing
So what DO we do on Tuesday? First, unless the weather is really sucky (an uncommon occurrence here in Utah), we get outside. In the summer, we’ll head to the park, the mountains or the canyons for a hike, a picnic or just some reading and relaxing in the sun. In the winter, we’ll go for a walk or a hike, a long drive into the canyons, or hit the hills for some snowboarding (as long as we buy tickets the day before). We’ll almost always nap. We read a lot – fiction, non-fiction, magazines, anything but work-related material. We play Scrabble. We cook the kind of fun but complicated meals we don’t normally have time to make. We watch movies, but only if they’re Tuesday-appropriate (which usually means thought-provoking documentaries). We catch up with family and friends on the phone or Skype. We do… nothing. Yep, sometimes, we do absolutely nothing, because that’s exactly what Tuesday is for.
Big picture, we think of Tuesdays as “family day”. It’s the one day set aside just for us, where we don’t have to do any of the stressful tasks that make the day go by way too fast (and make us wish we didn’t have to be so grown up all of the time). Sometimes they’re just lazy and easy, sometimes we spend a good part of the day talking about important stuff, other days we just get out and explore our new area. But we always try to respect the spirit and the feel of Tuesday, and try to stick to the intentions with which the day was built for us, by us.
Life Is Sneaky
Tuesday quickly became our favorite day of the week – the one we looked forward to the most. But it only works because we’ve committed to the idea one hundred percent. It’s all too easy to let non-Tuesday events slip into our routine. A side trip to the gas station, a quick phone call to the bank, an absent-minded email check and our day has quickly morphed into just any other day. The whole point is that Tuesdays are different. We have to be dedicated to the idea of preserving that one day a week for just for US… and it’s harder than it sounds. We’ve sat around on a few Tuesday nights thinking, “We didn’t do a very good job with our day today.” Sometimes it’s perceived pressure to get things done, sometimes it’s our own selfish desires, sometimes it’s just a failure to be mindful of our actions – all can lead to a degradation of what our day should look like, and feel like. Life has a sneaky way of infiltrating a Tuesday, and we have to be prepared with strategies to keep it out, and dedication to see it through. Why do we work so hard to preserve rules that are, at the heart, rather arbitrary? Because we both believe this concept is crucial for the health of our relationship, our family, our sanity. So we protect it with everything we have, and we continue to refine and explore what our Tuesday means to us.
Want Your Own Tuesday?
Here are some ideas for creating your own dedicated “Tuesday”. Even if you can’t take a whole day, use these concepts to carve out some quiet time just for you and your family.
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