Weekday evenings are hard to use well. For some people, they can become a tedious second shift, filled with chores and counting down minutes until kid bedtimes (or at least until kid activities are done). For others, they involve a lot of passive screen time and other leisure that doesn’t feel particularly restorative.
People are tired after work. But this chunk of time after work and before bed is not insignificant. Someone who finished work around 5:30 p.m. and went to bed at 10:30 p.m. would have 20 hours between Monday and Thursday — for family, leisure, and time at home.
I’ve been playing around with rebranding this time, aspirationally, as the “Golden Hours.” No, these hours can’t all be magical (I can recount plenty of bedtime battles…) but what would it feel like to actually treat this time as worth thinking through? Some of the Tranquility by Tuesday rules cover evening hours, such as “Take one night for you.” Little adventures can switch things up as well.
But broadly, most of these Golden Hours are going to be spent at home. No one will have much energy. So I’ve been pondering, within those constraints, what little at-home activities might make any given evening more enjoyable.
One idea: Spend a night on memory lane. Many of us have old albums or photo books sitting around somewhere. Every few days it could be time to pull out another one and reminisce about some past time period (perhaps with bonus calls/texts to other people who were involved!)
Old albums can conjure up memories too. Play one through and suddenly Tuesday night has brought back memories of band camp, or that trip to Prague.
There is, of course, Time Outside After Dinner (TOAD time). This is harder as it gets darker earlier, but if you have any brightly lit spot outside, it can be good.
I am a fan of doing a seasonal puzzle. I’m currently working through a covered bridge fall scene, but it’s a little more challenging than some of the others I’ve done lately, so we shall see if I stick with it…Puzzles that are collages of posters, book covers, or commercial items tend to be pretty brainless.
A good old-fashioned baking project means that a normal night now ends with delicious cookies. If you always have the ingredients for something simple on hand, this doesn’t need to be a big production.
These days we can watch any show at any time, but that makes live TV more exciting. Plenty of baseball and basketball games happen during the week during their respective seasons (as do some professional football games) and one can choose to become a more dedicated fan of a particular team, have special snacks for games, and text with friends and family who are watching the game at the same time.
Reading is a great way to spend time, but sometimes our brains can’t summon the energy for anything sustained. I’ve been trying to deal with this reality by checking out scores of design books from the library — home design, garden design, etc. These coffee table books are often beautiful (and expensive, hence the library part). It’s like flipping through a magazine without the ads. Speaking of which…
I find magazines are dirt cheap per hour of entertainment. I now subscribe to a great many and they are fun to read on a weekday evening. Sometimes I end the evening with grand plans (“I should go visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia!”) that are probably not going to happen but a little dreaming makes any Tuesday better.
We can also actually use our homes. I suspect a number of people reading this post have lovely houses with various attributes that feature prominently in real estate ads, and then don’t get touched much after purchase. So, if you have a free standing master bathroom tub, or a porch swing (or even just a porch! or some sort of balcony), or a sauna, or a pizza oven (indoor or outdoor), or a movie room, or a fire pit you built during Covid, maybe it’s time to make a schedule of using these things.
It’s fine for evenings to be free form. Not all can be planned intensely, or even loosely. But I find that setting just a few intentions for these 20 hours can increase the chances that they start to feel more like they happened — rather than that they were wished away.
In other news: If you signed up for a time tracking challenge in the past year and you are receiving repeat emails from me about the challenge this week I AM SO SORRY. My email program appears to have some sort of zombie in it which has resurrected a past campaign. We are trying to sort this out with them (as pausing/deleting campaigns has so far not worked). Please delete the emails and accept my apologies for the fact that you’re having to delete them. I know it’s wasted time and I feel really bad about it.