The Nature of S-Days

An everyday system, TM, is a simple, commonsense solution to an everyday problem, grounded by a pun or metaphor. Propose/discuss new systems here.
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NoelFigart
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The Nature of S-Days

Post by NoelFigart » Sun Nov 16, 2008 4:49 pm

I've been pondering S-Days, goals and structure recently.

I've completed my first year as a self-employed freelancer and it's been mostly successful. Certainly successful enough that I am not looking for a "real job", so I suppose that's pretty darn positive.

I've noticed something consistent in difficulties with several sorts of self-discipline problems. They are areas in which I do not take S-days.

I was starting to stagnate in writing and in my business. It wasn't that I wasn't working but that I was working like someone with an eating problem is permasnacking. There was no real structure to my work habits. Sure the stuff was getting done, but after awhile my brain was starting to stagnate. Now, I'm a writer. My brain has to be sharp. Nothing really matters to my client but the quality of the output.

Even though no-one in their right minds would ever call me a religious woman, I started taking a "Sabbath". On that day I would not work: No answering business calls, no writing business emails, no bookkeeping, none of that. Then I discovered this amazing concept. WEEKENDS! I'd take a *gasp* weekend and... get this... NOT WORK!

This didn't hurt my output. Far from it. Did you know that the brain is sharper if it's gotten a rest? Whoda thunk it? My output and motivation were actually better if I really did keep office hours. That office is a laptop, but even so corralling my work to no more than a 45 hour week made me more productive than yawning at a 60 hour one.

My next goal is to do something I didn't used to to, work out on N days and take S days off from working out. I had set myself a stupid goal of trying to work out 6-7 days a week. Fine, if that's what it takes to be a fitness model. I'm a writer. I need to the blood flowing hard enough to keep my brain sharp and my back from aching from sitting so much (I have a really sedentary job, after all). That's really all I need and five workouts a week is plenty for that.

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reinhard
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Post by reinhard » Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:43 pm

Noel,

The N-day/S-day split is probably the single most "resuable" everyday systems component. I use it for nos, shovelglove, weekend luddite (in reverse, and my level of punch card tracking (3 minimum 7 item columns vs. an undifferentiated list).
This didn't hurt my output. Far from it. Did you know that the brain is sharper if it's gotten a rest?
Very true -- and I think it's more than a matter of simply being better rested. By limiting your work/exercise/computer time, you force yourself to value it more, you realize that it is a limited commodity and use the time better. It seems paradoxical, but if you want to get more done, it's often best to give yourself less time to do it.

Reinhard

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Post by kccc » Tue Nov 25, 2008 7:26 pm

The 5-of-7 split is one that I've appropriated for any habit change, and really, really like.

However, I hadn't thought to use it for LIMITS as well. And after working both days this weekend, I see why I should. (Unusual circumstances, but still... I am "feeling" the lack of respite.)

Thanks, Noel, for your thoughtful post.

(Doesn't Five-of-Seven sound like a Star Trek character? A cousin of Seven-of-Nine, perhaps?)

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Post by larisa0001 » Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:46 pm

I also like the idea of S-days, but I've made a significant tweak to it. It seems to work for me for my exercise routine (1 hour a day) and for my piano practice routine (2 hours a day). Basically, my rule is that I get to take one day off per week. Does not matter when, whether it's a weekend or a weekday - I get one day off. If my week is normal and nothing chaotic happens, my S-day of choice is Saturday. However, if I get some unexpected craziness during the week, I take my S-day then, and make it up on Saturday. It seems to be relatively easy to keep track of, and works better for me than taking weekend S-days.

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Post by reinhard » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:45 pm

Larissa,

The two day weekend is a relatively modern innovation (though one I'm rather fond of!) so you've got plenty of historical precedent for going down to one. I do like the predictable rhythm of (mostly) fixed S-days... but there are advantages to floating S-days as well, and it sounds like your default is reasonably stable.

Reinhard

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