As Montesquieu wrote, «[I]t should be noted that the main reason for the Romans becoming masters of the world was that, having fought successively against all peoples, they always gave up their own practices as soon as they found better ones.»
Recently I was reminded of religious practices that take a day off, esp. Judaism. I think there’s something to be said for these practices. Sure, in Christianity there’s Sunday, but it does not come with encouragements and prohibitions anymore. More or less a good thing (I’m an agnostic), but I wonder whether we don’t lose something here.
Perhaps it’s time for an updated version of a day of rest. I think the following aspects are helpful:
- Use Friday to Saturday (sundown)
The idea of having it start with sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday is great. It brings both constancy and variability (time of sundown changes over the year). And — more importantly — it allows you to end the week on Friday. I’ve started to see Saturday as the first day of the week a few years ago and haven’t looked back. Much better to use the weekend as a starting point during which you can prepare than to see it as an island on the horizon, swimming in an ocean of tasks. Additionally, having the day of rest start with sundown brings a bit of quiet into the day of rest.
- Remove externally paced activities (controls)
Some activities are controlled by external sources. These include any digital/online communication (you essentially get a message/call, no influence on it, or are confronted with lots of pull forces online), but also movies and digital music (continue and set the pace, unless you hit pause). And — as much as I like them — especially computer games (they are interactive, but also mostly set the constraints and determine the interaction). And frankly, I think it’s a good idea to put all these things away for these roughly 24 hours. There are some risks, esp. if people you know die in the meantime, and I wouldn’t do it if my partner was pregnant, but if the core family is close-by, it’s probably a very good idea. I also think it’s a good idea to use a preparation period before sundown to put these things away.
- Start by putting your house in order
The idea of preparing the home/apartment is also very good. I usually neglect it, and it’s a way to leave work behind (unless you work as a cleaner).
- Clean Up
Bathing, cutting your hair, etc. are also nice tasks. Not something for the morning, but for the evening, when you have the time to take the time.
- Wear clothes you like
Wearing fine clothes, or rather, clothes you like is also nice. Again something to use as a break from work (unless you’re a Yoga instructor).
- Do self-determined and self-paced activities
Reading is probably the best activity. It’s incredible how much free time you have to actually read when you put away the PC/Mac (and playstation). But also writing (by hand). Then there’s cooking — esp. as a social event. Taking the time to prepare a meal, actually from basic ingredients — yeah (once I found out about the difference between wheat flour and coconut flour, baking bread became fun — previously it was mostly hard — and burned).
- Start and end actions
It’s probably best to have a start and end actions. In religious groups it would most likely be a prayer (or lighting candles). But it can by anything else — from making a cup of tea, putting digital devices away, to lots of other possible actions.
Not sure whether it will work long-term, but after having a really, really relaxing Friday to Saturday, much more so than my three weeks vacation, and having the time to actually read a rather difficult fiction book, I think there’s something to it. And yeah, you might miss something, even something important. But most likely, it’s just FOMO — the fear of missing out (to quote Asian Efficiency). And I really question whether this fear should determine or even influence a person’s life.
And looking at the Screen Time feature in iOS 12, it’s highly likely we are going to do a turn in our 24/7 available phase we’re now in.
It’s about time.