A blog post 4 years in the making

Oh yes, it’s Leap Day — the extra 24 hours bequeathed on us by calendar creators due to the not exactly 365-day journey of the earth around the sun. We don’t really get an extra day in the sense that this week still has 7 days. Though wouldn’t it have been fun if we did get an extra-calendar day? Monday, Tuesday, Leap Day, Wednesday…

Yes, it would be fun. But I’ve thought about this concept of “extra” time since Real Simple ran an inadvertently humorous piece on what people would do with an extra 15 minutes in their days 5 years ago. In wistful prose readers described what they’d do if time would only slow down for a while — things like relax in the tub, read, or try out the backyard hammock. As one woman mused, ‘Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted writing time would be a priceless gift.” Of course, she somehow managed to find 15 minutes to write to Real Simple about her elusive dream. When I read that, I had a realization. If people had more time, they’d do exactly the same things they do now. They’d be the same people. If you can’t find time to write in a 24-hour day, you won’t find time in a 24.25-hour day. If you don’t find time for reflection or adventures in a 365-day year, you won’t find time in a 366-day year either.

We have enough time. We’re just not choosing to spend it in ways that we find meaningful or enjoyable. The best use of Leap Day is to remember that time is a choice. We have created the architecture of the 7 days per week we have. Unless you’re reading this from a prison or refugee camp, if you feel like you’re not spending enough time on one thing or another, there is probably some way to change that.  

So what can you do to change up your regularly scheduled life? What could you change so that, four years from now, you wouldn’t feel the need for an extra day?

This is an ongoing process for me. One thing I decided to change about my daily schedule this year is to eat lunch with my kids 3-4 days per week. I used to just heat something up and sit in front of my desk, but since my 4-year-old is home from preschool at noon this year, I decided to take advantage of one of the upsides of working from home and eat with them. It’s a nice break in my day. A year or two ago, I might have told you that I wouldn’t be able to find space in my workday schedule, but I’ve learned that I rarely have to schedule anything right at noon. If I focus more later in the day I can get the time back. So now I don’t have to say that if I had an extra 20 minutes during the day, or an extra day per year, I’d hang out with my kids.

I’m doing it now.

What “Leap Day” activities could you put into your daily life?

photo courtesy flickr user zoetnet



4 Responses to A blog post 4 years in the making


  1. Maryellen says:

    How you know you’re starting to think like Laura Vanderkam: all day I’ve heard people celebrating the “extra day”, and my internal monologue immediately launches into, “Well, I hope you’re using this to look more closely at how you’re spending your time. Because whatever it is you want to do with this ‘extra day’, you should be finding ways to fit it into all of your days.”

    Thanks, Laura, for getting me to a point where this is how I think! I’ve become a much more sensible, productive and most importantly less stressed individual as a result.

    • Laura says:

      @Maryellen- oh, how fun! I love to think that my voice might be running through someone’s head, and sounding so sensible! I’m glad to hear you’re more productive and less stressed. Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. Sharon says:

    I decided to take a day and go with friends into NYC to see “Seminar” with Alan Rickman. Then I decided that I will create a new tradition and take every leap day off to do an all-day fun thing! But, don’t worry, I still take the time for wonderful adventures in ‘regular time’ too.

  3. Pingback: Leap day: Do we really get extra time? « Cindy Goodman