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Taking Saturdays Off: Turning Luxury Into Necessity

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I have an announcement to make: I'm going to start celebrating the Sabbath.

No, I'm not getting in touch with my inner Jew. (For the moment, I think I'll continue to remain Jew-ish rather than Jewish.)

I'm afraid it's a much less lofty goal than that. I've decided not to work on Saturdays anymore (read: no blogging, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter) so that I can focus more on myself. Or -- to put it more accurately -- I'd like to designate Saturdays as a day for doing things outside of work that also make me happy.

Yes, I know it's a radical concept. But as Colleen of Communicatrix fame points out with characteristic wit and insight, it's really hard to find time for the things we wish to prioritize in our lives unless we make room for them. She's turning all of January into December so that she can take stock, clear the decks and plunge in with some new projects. Back in November, I took a self-imposed vacation (from blogging) so that I could send out my novel to agents.

The sort of break I'm envisioning for Saturdays is somewhat different. The above projects are all about carving out space to move forward on the work front. What I have in mind is moving forward on the life front. For as I sat in a Viennese coffee house over the holidays and reflected on my life, I realized that in my never-ending quest to get on top of my to-do list, two things that bring me true happiness had both fallen by the wayside: doing yoga and reading The New Yorker.

You see, this is how my mind works. If something is deemed a necessity in my life, it gets done. If it's deemed a luxury, it may or may not get done. But if it does get done, that likely only happens around 11:59 p.m. on a Thursday evening with half an eyelid open and the corresponding amount of energy. And because I had begun labeling both yoga and The New Yorker as "luxuries," they just weren't happening anymore, at least with the regularity that'd like.

So I'm making a change. For the next month -- and I'm telling you this because one way to signal a commitment is to give yourself a time-line and say it out loud -- I'm going to experiment with assigning myself only two jobs on Saturday -- going to yoga and reading The New Yorker. My hope is that if I can do just those two things (with anything else a bonus), I'll not only be happier, I'll actually be more productive when I do return to the computer. If this strategy goes well and proves realistic, I'll commit for the year.

Of course, I'm hoping that this new routine will incur other benefits as well. To wit:

• more face-to-face parenting, rather than shouting commands over my shoulder as I hurtle through my RSS feed

• making a dinner that does not involve something out of a jar from Tesco

• quality time with my husband so that we can watch more DVD commentaries and listen to Garrison Keillor together

• actually playing all those board games that I bought for Hanukkah (BTW: Settlers of Catan? Totally worth it...)

And who knows? Maybe we'll even make it to synagogue one of these days...

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