Guest post: How to change an average Tuesday

Laura’s note: I’m welcoming Elisabeth Frost to the blog today! Elisabeth participated in my Tranquility by Tuesday Project during the spring of 2021, and she is one of the people whose results appear in the book. If you’d like to work through the nine TBT rules, week by week, please sign up for the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, which starts this Friday.

by Elisabeth Frost

After wanting to start a blog for well over a decade, I hit publish at 4:25 pm one Saturday afternoon in 2021. Since then, I’ve hit publish 424 more times. Because that’s the way we create habits in life – do something once and then repeat.

So how did I go from wanting to do something – for years! – to actually doing it? Enter Laura and, more specifically, her rules from Tranquility by Tuesday.

Early in 2021, I was part of Laura’s time-study group trialing her nine rules aimed at “calming the chaos.” Because even with the universal limitation of a 24-hour day, we all have additional, unique constraints that bring some form of chaos – kids, pets, a long commute. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about those constraints that can make a big difference in how we structure our lives.

My stories?

I Don’t Have Time to Write. I’ll Never Stick with It, So Why Bother Starting? Or, the runaway bestseller: It’s So Much Easier to Just Scroll On My Phone and Read Other People’s Blogs.

I had lots of stories in my head, and none on paper.

Following Laura’s rules challenged me to rethink this narrative. First, I have a lot more time than I think – turns out, 168 hours each week. Second, now I had permission to claim as a habit anything I did three times a week; with regard to my writing aspirations, this released me from the notion that I had to write every day for it to count. Third? I needed to put down my phone and actually write.

For the duration of the study, I committed to writing something three times a week. I could have copied out the phone book (I didn’t) – what mattered to me was forming the habit of regular writing.

When the time study was completed, the e-mails from Laura stopped. No one was there to ask me if I had remembered to Move by 3 pm; I didn’t get reminders to plan in One big adventure, one little adventure or to write Three times a week.

In lieu of direct oversight, have I stuck with the rules perfectly? Not even close. I often forget to Plan on Fridays. I sometimes pick away at tasks inefficiently throughout the day instead of Batching the little things. During one low point, I ate onion rings and chocolate in response to catastrophizing about how long it had been since I had gone running – instead of getting up off the couch and, you know, actually going for a run (the epitome of Effortless before effortful?).


I now write more than Three times a week. Last summer my family’s big adventure was a 3-week-long road trip. Laura gives equal airtime to little adventures, too. It was with this rule in mind that I invited a friend to go out for ice cream one beautiful evening…without kids. It was delicious and a highlight of my summer. Her Move by 3 pm rule was the subconscious nudge I needed to maintain a daily outdoor walking streak in 2022.

Even without perfect adherence, applying these rules have made me feel better about how I use my time. They’ve made me more mindful of my autonomy to choose well. While it’s tempting to consider a complete life overhaul, what I really needed and wanted was the inspiration to finally launch a little writing space online, say yes to a second Broadway show (a big adventure!)…and commit to a 10:30 pm bedtime (this last one is harder than it sounds).

Early in Tranquility by Tuesday Laura writes: “I believe the big pieces in your life are probably good. I don’t want to change those. I want to change how you spend an average Tuesday.”

Well, yesterday was an average Tuesday. I wrote. I walked the kids to school in the morning. I batched administrative tasks at work. My light was out before 10:30 pm.

And today? I’m guest posting for Laura Vanderkam. I’d say Three times a week is a habit provided some pretty fun results…

Your turn. What goal or habit change – big or little – currently feels overwhelming? How could you break that down into more manageable chunks or, perhaps, reframe entirely? What was your best adventure – big or little – from 2022? What’s your ideal bedtime…and do you stick to it?

Photos: Elisabeth’s usual writing spot; Elisabeth Frost

36 thoughts on “Guest post: How to change an average Tuesday

  1. Yes, I would say establishing a three times a week rule of writing has produced some massive results for you, Elisabeth! I love this idea, because three times a week seems less daunting to start with than every day.
    I also love the “big and little adventures” idea. Adventures make life more rich, and memorable. I’m making an effort to insert more of them into my life, so time doesn’t go by in such a blur.
    The 10:30 bedtime… I’m not quite there yet. But I’m working on it- more sleep is a goal for 2023.

    1. @Jenny – I wound up deciding bedtime was 11 p.m. because 10:30 just wasn’t going to happen. Ever! But we make the mornings work so that I can set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. so it is ok. Elisabeth has definitely run with the three times a week rule! I love it.

    2. Hi Jenny!!

      Three times a week seems so doable when compared to every single day. Maybe the trickiest thing is finding out what behaviour, exactly, I want to become a habit?
      I’d say your ultra will be a huge adventure for 2023 and all the training runs you put in – especially to new locations, like the park in Tampa – are great little adventures.
      You know how I’ve fared with the bedtime “rule” (hit or miss is being generous). Last week I gave up on 10:30 and made it 10:45.

  2. The school run/my work city commutes necessitates early exercise, which is so crucial to my wellbeing. I’ll always volunteer to do the school run when I’m home.

    I love the big adventures/little adventures and have really made an effort to incorporate that. I think effortful before effortless is a big one for me, I travel an absurd amount and I’m not sure I use those little blocks of time in the most satisfying way (email checks, etc). I’d like to default to reading or something more satisfying that would make the waiting / transition time less annoying, and reduce phone use at the same time. I can’t read on the bus but I could listen to an engrossing novel (I can scroll email while listening to a podcast, but not a novel).

    1. We try to walk our kids to school most mornings and it is the best/easiest way for me to fit in daily exercise, with the major bonus that it allows me to function on auto-pilot. Also, it feels “productive” since it gets the kids to school – something that would have to happen anyway.

      My son was sick quite a bit in December and the weather has been crummy in January; as a result, I’ve walked the kids to school a lot less frequently and have realized how dependent I had become on that morning time slot for taking the guesswork out of when to exercise!

      Thankfully, we’ve been able to walk every morning this week!

    2. Keeping up with blog posting seems daunting to me right now. But to be fair, I also want to make exercising 3 times per week a habit and that has been going well so far since December so maybe when that habit set in I get started on making more time for writing? I still feel a little rusty.
      I do struggle with bedtime. I am a night owl and wake up around 10pm but since I have to get up early in the morning a lot of days I end up tired. At least the exercising in the evening helps a little to feel more ready for bed. It seems to be getting a little better.

    1. Awww! Thanks, Colleen <3
      For the record, I think you'd love Tranquility by Tuesday. You juggle so much with a big family and busy career; this book hits that demographic so well!

  3. “I had lots of stories in my head, and none on paper.”

    Well, doesn’t this about sum up life sometimes? I’ve got a paralyzing amount of information in my head at times. Cue the practical books and blog posts with user-friendly tools to get the ideas and desired habits *out* of my head and into plans and actions! Thanks Elisabeth and Laura for getting your “stories” out into the world so the rest of us can benefit.
    Currently reading Tranquility by Tuesday (and excited to start the challenge on Friday!)

  4. Hi Elisabeth! I’m so glad that you started a blog as I’ve loved getting to know you over the last year+ I’ve been reading your blog!

    So I still remember the post Laura did about 3 times/week is a happy when she was posting her TBT time studies. It’s the story she shares in the book about how she helped a woman see that working out 3 times/week is a habit. That post had quite an impact on me as it allowed me to relax my standards when it came to working out – and those relaxed standards made it possible to add working out back to my routine. Prior to having kids, I would workout about 5 times/week, maybe more. The thought of making time to workout 5 times/week when I am not a natural super early riser like SHU was so overwhelming. It also gave me permission to still identify as a runner/active person. Since I WFH 2 days/week, it’s possible to workout 3 times/week as it’s way easier to fit in; office days are trickier since we are gone from 6:45-5 and by the time both kids are in bed, I do not want to be working out.

    But until I accepted that 3 times/week was a habit, I had such a mental block around working out. So thank you for this rule, Laura!

    1. Thanks, Lisa!

      Three times a week was my favourite rule because I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of person. If I can’t maintain a streak, why bother starting? And when I think of habits, I tend to think of doing something every day. Three times a week is so much more doable than SEVEN times a week. It’s like I needed permission to label an activity as a habit if I did it less than seven times a week. I’m so glad it had a positive impact on you, too!

  5. Ok Elizabeth, you’ve inspired me. I’ve been meaning to start a Substack with days in the life of working moms for ages and ages, and I just set up a form and a Substack (took 15 minutes) and am going to think of this as my work travel evening hobby.

    1. This is great news. Kudos, Coree.

      So often “the stewing is worse than the doing.” For me, starting a website had been a decade-long ambition but the tech side of things felt completely overwhelming. In the end, it was painless and within a week I was posting regularly.

      Enjoy your new hobby!

  6. You are so right about having more time than I think. I find my biggest struggle to daily efficiency is incessant interruptions from 4 children, and the transitions & interruptions zap my time and focus. Something I need to be more intentional with. Thanks for the inspiration to strive for habits and not perfection.

    1. Interruptions are the bane of my existence (and I only have two kids!). Working from home, I’ll admit I’m not great at staying focused. Because I can switch over a load of laundry mid-morning, I do. And while that can be a major boost to the function of our household, it also means I tend to divide my attention.

      It is interesting and revelatory to see how much flex time does exist, though. We tend to tell ourselves stories about how little time we have to leisure pursuits and while that can be true for some people, in reality, most of us have untapped time (which, unfortunately for me, can sometimes get swallowed up in mindless scrolling).

  7. Such a great result from forming the writing habit! Well done you!

    I am in massive declutter/ house purge mode and I have borrowed an idea from Apartment Therapy: just 15 minutes a day. I choose one task, and finish it within 15 minutes. If I have more time, I allow myself 30. But it’s amazing the things I dread that I can just…get done! In 15 minutes! I have gone through so many drawers and closets in such a short amount of time. Now I have PILES of stuff that is on its way out of my house…but it probably won’t take long to get them to where they need to be. It’s bite-sized, which is the only way I can deal with it right now.

    As for bedtime, that’s easy for me. I’m so early rising that I am basically in a coma by 9, so I’m usually in bed before then.

    1. One of my biggest regrets is that I’m not a morning person. I have tried – so. many. times – to get up early. But it never sticks. I am just not functional before 6:30 am. But I am amazed when you list all the things you’ve accomplished while I’m still in dreamland.

      And yes to bite-sized chunks of decluttering. That’s how I tend to approach things too; I find with two kids in the house there is a regular influx of new things that need to be organized (and passed along to new homes).

  8. I am super-intrigued to read the book and take the challenge. I definitely thrive on routine and habits and I am looking forward to making some tweaks.

  9. “I had lots of stories in my head, and none on paper”. oof. That hits home.
    It is so true the stories we tell ourselves can be such big roadblocks when really it is a hump we can step over by just seeing it differently. I’m excited to do the Tranquility by Tuesday challenge. I’ve read the book but having the reminders will help. I know in the past I signed up for stuff and let the “busyness” stories get in the way. I am ready to start writing a different story. Thank you for the inspiration! (both you Elisabeth and Laura!)

    1. I’m so glad you’re doing the TBT challenge, Shelly!

      I think it will be a great to have a refresher (I’m doing it too) and it’s always nice to do things in a group context and have peer support.

    2. @Shelly – I totally feel this some times too… even writing for a living. Am I writing what I want to be writing? What I should be writing? A good question!

  10. I loved this cross-post! Thank you both for sharing your thoughts! I’ve learned so much from Laura’s work and discovered Elisabeth’s wonderful blog this year. I read both daily and appreciate the thoughtful reflections, experiences, and tips! Also, there is currently a mop in my Amazon cart and that is ONLY because Elisabeth raves about hers.

  11. I LOVE this post Elisabeth! I am trying really hard to maximize my toddler’s waning naps, and so far the 3-times-a-week rule is a really valuable one

    1. Naps were such a stress point for me and I both longed for – and dreaded – the day when our lives weren’t so dictated by napping schedules. I’m glad the Three times a week rule is helping you navigate this tricky season (and I wish I’d had it in my back pocket when I had napping kiddos at home)!

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