Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, Rule #7: Take one night for you

Last night, as I do most Thursday nights, I went to choir practice. Most weeks, rehearsal is 2-2.5 hours, though last night it was shorter because we were out of our usual space. During this time, on Thursdays, I sing through rather challenging music. I love making music alongside talented musicians, so that is great in its own right, but equally important: during rehearsal I am not managing kid schedules or dealing with my email. This is time apart from work or family responsibilities, reminding me that I am a person apart from either of those things.

During the busy years of building career and raising a family, it can be hard to make space for our own interests. But doing so can also make the busy years feel sustainable and joyful, rather than a slog. Singing in various choirs as an adult has been transformative for my schedule, which is one reason I am a big proponent of Tranquility by Tuesday Rule #7: Take one night for you.

Each week, take a few hours to do something that is not work and is not caring for family members. What you do is up for you, and it doesn’t literally have to be a “night” (a weekday morning could work too!), but ideally it happens at the same time every week and involves a commitment to something (e.g. being in a choir or a band, playing on a softball team, a regular run or bike ride with friends, a regular volunteering gig, a spiritual small group, etc.). The reason to make a commitment is that then this night winds up on the schedule and happens, rather than getting chucked when life gets busy (as it always will).

When I teach this rule, I know that I will often get push-back. People understand that they should go to bed at a reasonable time (Rule #1) or that it might be wise to plan their weeks (Rule #2), but they’ve got various reasons why it just wouldn’t work for them to do something fun for two hours every Tuesday night (or Saturday morning, or whatever).

We will discuss some of those concerns over the next few days! I am familiar with them myself. It has not been particularly easy for me to get to choir practice each week — I have five kids; my husband travels for work (as do I on occasion). But I do believe that something that brings joy to my life deserves to be a family priority. It deserves to be a priority for you too.

If you’ve already got a regular fun-for-you commitment, amazing. If you don’t, this is a great week to think about what you would truly enjoy having in your life. This shouldn’t be something you feel you “should” do — it should be something energizing that makes you excited. You should look forward to your night! What would make you really happy every time you saw that recurring event on your calendar?

You may not be able to start this new thing immediately, and it might take some experimentation (which we’ll also talk about this week). But I’d suggest keeping an open mind about trying this rule. It might be a disaster, in which case you can go back to life as it was. Or maybe you just might find life a lot more fun — and that would be a great thing to experience on an average Tuesday.

In other news: Check out this TBT In Real Life video about how one woman decided to start making space for her own passions amid a busy life.

New here? We’re working through my nine favorite time management rules over nine weeks. I write about these rules in Tranquility by Tuesday, my most recent book. Please check it out!

9 thoughts on “Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, Rule #7: Take one night for you

  1. I’m away 3 nights a week, and one is in transit, and one I normally work late, but I always book a yoga class for one of the nights. It ticks the exercise, mental health, and work-life balance boxes. I work in a bigger city, and live in a tiny village which doesn’t have yoga, so this works really well.

  2. This rule changed my life. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t think of the weekday option until the story about watching matinee shows on Broadway. Evenings and weekends are very complicated here and it was too easy to put anything for me in the ‘too hard’ basket. But opening up the possibility of weekdays made me rethink my options.

    I started taking riding lessons again in December (after 15 years with almost no time in the saddle). The commute to/from the stable plus the lesson and associated grooming/tacking up/untacking eats my entire work slot for Friday afternoons, but I get back before the kids are home from school, so I don’t feel like I’m taking time from anyone other than myself. Almost every week I’m stressed that I’ve booked it as I see work responsibilities piling up, but every week I manage to get everything done (because I have to – I’ve committed to the lesson!), and I start the weekend so much more relaxed. It makes a huge difference to my mental health – I have to be totally present while riding – and I look forward to it every week.

    Thank you for this rule! It’s the one that’s made the biggest change overall.

    1. @Turia – wow, I’m thrilled this rule has been so helpful to you! I love that you are getting to ride and seeing such a benefit from it. Yep, weekdays are totally options for people too…I just would stress that people don’t *have* to use weekday daytime hours. People with families are allowed to take 2 hours or so a week away from them.:)

  3. I’m glad we finally got to this rule because I have problems with it. It’s not that I don’t see why I should make it a priority, it’s that I cannot come up with something I really would look forward to, commit to and that would happen every week. Isn’t that a bit sad? I have things that happen maybe once a month (like book club) and I have exercise and health commitments but they’re nothing I look forward to. And I can’t seem to come up with anything?!

    1. @Maggie -ooh, I love this question. I’ll write about this in a post this week (not you specifically — I hear this a lot!). I love singing so that wasn’t terribly hard for me to come up with, but I know that many people do not have some particular thing they would put in that category. But I do like to believe that in this vast wide world there is something you would really look forward to — but because it is a vast wide world sometimes it’s hard to find! I think some experimentation is in order, which can be the priority until you find something else to be a priority.

      1. @Maggie – although if you’re doing a once a month book club you’re already doing well – maybe just add a friend get together or something another week and you’re more or less in the spirit of this rule 🙂

  4. I truly believe in this rule. I have committed to working out at lunch a minimum of three days a week. I put the time on my calendar and treat it like a work meeting. The positive attitude and feeling of accomplishment I receive after the workout far out weights the occasional push back to coworkers required to ensure no other obligation interferes with this time. It is dedicated time for me and only me.

  5. I’m excited to get back into this rule. I’ve participated in adult sports leagues (ultimate, broomball (a local sport), or pickleball depending on what’s convenient and seasonal) but have gone without this regular fun night since I started coaching basketball for one of our kids. I’m planning to join a doubles pickleball league with my sister in a couple of weeks.

    I’m even more excited that my husband decided to sign up for a skeet shooting league starting in a couple of weeks. We sometimes do leagues together (hire a babysitter or bring the kids depending on the season and the location) but I’m glad for him to get to nurture his interests that are decidedly not mine. Plus, I won’t feel guilty putting all the parenting/cleaning duties on him for my nights out now 😉

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