Last week, we wrote about what happens in the Whole9 house on Tuesdays (and posted some photos from our last Tuesday on our Facebook page). The post drew a range of comments from readers – everything from “I need this in my life!” to, “This is a luxury concept – I couldn’t afford to give up an entire day.” To that last point, we know it’s hard to build some “you time” into your week. However, over the last 9 months, we have come to believe this idea is critical for the health of our relationship, our general sanity and maintaining a healthy life/work balance. The sacrifices we make on behalf of our Tuesdays are so incredibly worth it that today, we’re sharing our best advice for implementing your own version of a Tuesday.
Build Your Own Tuesday
Do you see the value in taking some time back for yourself, but aren’t sure how to start? First, you have to convince yourself that you can. (And here comes the tough love, because you know we tell it like it is around here.) Don’t flatter yourself into thinking you’re too busy, that your responsibilities are too demanding, that you’re too important to take a few hours every week for yourself. We’re all busy. We all have more responsibilities than we think we can manage. We all feel pressure to respond to those responsibilities every second of every day. Which is exactly why you NEED a Tuesday.
If you need to be convinced further, think about it this way. Nobody says, “I’m glad I did the dishes instead of playing with my kids” or “Skipping dinner to answer emails was so rewarding.” What you SAY is, “I wish I had time to play with my kids, sit down for a meal with my husband, read a good book…” So take that time. You can, and you should. Your new mantra? It. Will. Wait.
On that note, however, taking an entire day off each week may, in fact, be impossible given your current situation. That doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea, however. If you can’t set aside one day a week, how about just a few hours? Maybe it’s weeknights after 6 PM, Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons – just choose a day and time that maximizes quality time for you and your family. The point is, you need, deserve and can absolutely manage to take a few hours a week for YOU.
Choose Your Day
Second, choose a day that’s reasonable to bail on grown-up responsibilities. For those of you who work 9-5 jobs, Tuesday isn’t practical, so Saturday or Sunday may be your best bet. If you can’t swing an entire day, but Tuesday and Thursday evenings are generally pretty open, split it up. The rule, however – pick your day and time, and stick to it. You have to commit to every aspect of your Tuesday, 100%.
Don’t fall into the temptation of picking a day that’s convenient for you each week. First, you know in your heart that picking a day on the fly means it simply won’t happen. Monday will roll around, and you’ll say, “Maybe Wednesday.” And then Wednesday gets too busy, and you say, “Definitely Saturday.” And then something comes up on Saturday, and you’ve gone an entire week without setting aside any time at all. Second, the idea of your time being “flexible” is missing the entire point. The very foundation of the idea is to choose your day, and build your week around it.
Third, establish very clear ground rules for your day. Write them down, if you have to, so that everyone involved is clear about what is Tuesday-appropriate and what is not. Your rules may look different than ours, so long as you agree on what you want your day to look like – and feel like. Think about various scenarios, and how you’d handle them. Will you hit the gym or not? How about dinner out at a restaurant with the family? Is sports on TV or a trip to the mall an appropriate part of your day?
We took at least two weeks to do this all-important step, so when our first Tuesday rolled around, we knew exactly what it would entail (and what it would not). And when things came up that we hadn’t anticipated (for example, our favorite band coming to the local amphitheater), we were able to evaluate whether the “feel” of a big, crowded, late-night concert fit within our concept of Tuesday. (It doesn’t.)
Hold Yourself Accountable
Finally, although this one is going to have to be up to you, we recommend that the agreed-upon rules you set for yourselves are 100% binding. If you agree that Tuesday shouldn’t include dealing with traffic or crowds, but discover a fun event happens to fall on your day – too bad. You’ve already decided that traffic and crowds aren’t what you want, even though the event might be fun. If you agreed not to check email because it reminded you too much of work, but find yourself waiting for a really response from a friend, it’s just going to have to wait until Wednesday.
You set the “rules” for yourself for a reason, but it can be damn hard to stick to them sometimes, even though (or maybe because) they’re your own rules. We’ve woken up on Tuesday dying to train – but skipped it, because we decided last June that Tuesdays wouldn’t include time inside a gym. We’ve passed on amazing concerts, because crowds and commerce weren’t what we deemed “a Tuesday thing.” It’s hard, and it feels somewhat pointless – your Tuesday is supposed to be FUN, and this thing you want to do would be FUN, so why can’t you? But it’s not about just having fun – it’s about preserving your day in the manner in which you agreed upon was best for you and your family. And sticking to it throughout any distraction, 100% of the time, no exceptions, is the only way to keep your Tuesday sacred.
Is it Tuesday Yet?
Be prepared for the fact that the first few Tuesdays are going to be a little strange. In the beginning, it will probably be hard to stick to your rules. We felt all kinds of pressure to check email, talk business and make “just one” quick phone call during those first few Tuesdays, and we were convinced the business was going to collapse without us for the day. But… it didn’t. And we fought the tendency to turn our Tuesday into just any other day, and worked really hard (unreasonably hard, ironic, huh?) to preserve the spirit and feel of our day. Eventually, however, we began to get the hang of Tuesday. We no longer worried about work – we knew it would wait. We began to look forward to that day above all others, knowing there was light at the end of the busy weekend workshop tunnel. And every Monday when we go to sleep, we know we’ve got an entire day laid out just for us – no obligations and no pressures. And we know that it will work the same for you – if you take the concept to heart, and commit to the idea in the manner in which it deserves.
Take a Tuesday
We hope these “personal development” posts (an often-overlooked one of our 9 factors) have given you some ideas for your own life, and your own version of a Tuesday. Share your ideas, thoughts, concerns or obstacles in comments, so we (and others) can help you figure out how to set aside some valuable time each week for you.
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This reminds me of the accounts I’ve read of people who have moved to a 4-day workweek: it felt weird at first, the temptation to work was there for a while, plenty of naysayers, etc… but once they got into the swing of it, it’s business-as-usual, and awesome to have three-day weekends every week.
I don’t do the 4-day thing myself (yet), but I tend to float between work and family time, with gym-time being the only me-time for weeks on end. That’s gonna change now.
For me, once I slowed down one day a week (Sunday’s for me) I found out how tired I actually was. Going at 100mph all week, I never took time to see if I was tired. I always got 8 hours of sleep, but with working and working out, I might need more. I now look forward to my 2 nap- Sundays! Thanks for keeping what is important in check. xo
Colleen King says
I have had a long-standing Friday night tradition (going on 5 years now.) It’s called “F* you Friday.” Once work is done on Friday, I go home, pick up food (and if I am being honest, wine!) on the way home. I get in my jammies as soon as I walk in the door. I do NOTHING on Friday night. It’s about staying in and being “anti-social” to those outside my family. Sometimes there are movies or DVR’d shows, but often its just conversation and board games. I love my Friday nights and need them even more now that I am working full-time and going to nursing school. I love the concept, thanks for posting it!
Amanda A. says
This is great. My husband and I are fortunate enough to have Saturday and Sunday off, but he has a really hard time not responding to work email or phone calls on the weekend. We also too often get roped into doing things that we don’t particularly *want* to do because we feel obligated or have a hard time saying “no.” I would love for us to designate one of those weekend days as “our” day and be more proactive about our activities so we don’t look back at our weekend dissatisfied at how we spent our time.
Thank you, thank you, for this!
Tami C. says
Great post. Five years ago I quit my full time job and starting working freelance out of my house. It was great at first, but then I began to realize that it meant I was ALWAYS working. 7 AM, 12 AM, 8 PM… didn’t matter, if there was work I was parked in front of the computer.
Then last year I decided to set hours for myself as if I was going to work in an office. I start at X time in the morning and finish at X time in the evening, even if I still have work to do. It kind of lets me give myself permission to relax every evening and do fun stuff like go to judo class, go hiking, hang out with friends or just veg out and watch TV.
I’ve found I still get plenty of work done, I have no problems meeting deadlines and I’m a lot less cranky. Work is always going to be there, but maybe tomorrow my friends or family won’t be there.
Inspired by last Tuesday’s post, I’m trying to get the boyfriend on board, but he’s not very enthusiastic :( Either way, I’m easing into it, starting with “No Social Networking Sundays!”
Excellent advice, Melissa and Dallas! As someone who’s passionate about public health, it’s amazing to me how many of our modern day, chronic health problems can be traced back to or exacerbated by too much work–depression, obesity, etc.,–and how taking some time to relax every week can make a difference.
It doesn’t help that as Americans, we take an enormous amount of pride in claiming we’re working sooooo hard and we’re soooooo stressed out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in conversations with people in which they start trying to one-up each other. You work an average of 60 hours a week? Great! What’s that you say–you’re in the middle of divorce? Your kids are acting out at school? You can’t seem to take off that last 35 pounds of baby weight? Gee, I wonder why? I’ve stopped responding to people when they go on and on in the hopes that they will realize how stupid they sound. I don’t know if it ultimately does much good because we cannot seem to get away from the Work-Martyr complex.
Good for you guys for modeling such admirable qualities!
Melissa @ Whole9 says
Jules – just a warning, you may find avoiding Facebook or Twitter for a day HARD. We were totally surprised at the “cravings” we got on our first few Tuesdays to pop in and see what’s going on. You feel like you’re missing out on something, but in reality, you’re only missing out on your real life when you spend so much time buried in your computer or phone screen. I love the idea of “no social networking Sunday” – keep us posted as to how it’s working for you.
Tami C – we’re working on the same principle now, and it’s been so much better for our personal life. We don’t have hours totally standardized, but we work in “blocks” of time now, instead of being in and out of our computers all day long. It’s so much better for our constitution.
Amanda: Just say no. It’s so freakin’ liberating, and you’ll enjoy your time so much more knowing you’re spending just a few hours doing exactly what’s right for YOU. Do it.
Colleen: LOVE the idea! Friday nights are perfect for down time – and gets you off to a roaring start on Saturday morning, to make the most of your weekend. Beautiful!
J Spice: I’m so proud of you for taking the down time you need – I know how hard it is for you to slow down.
Adam: We’re going to add a second “off” day on weekends we don’t travel. Not as strict as our Tuesday, we’ll use that day for errands and shopping and other fun-ish stuff, but NO work. It’s not exactly a 4 day work week, but it’s closer than we’ve been, and we’re digging the idea.
Mike H says
“in six days you shall do all your labor and rest the sabbath day”. I think we’re designed best to run on 6 days of work, one day of rest/worship. Our family engages in no commerce on Sundays. Church in the morning, church in the evening, rest (including having people over for lunch sometimes) in between. This has been our habit since college. “Rest” is going to be different for everyone, but I think one key is make your rest day look very different from your work day. For some, that means no social media. For others that may mean no mowing the lawn or even *gasp* no working out (!).
It’s a wonderful habit, regardless of motive.