Days o’ The Week

Days o the week pattern

Routines don’t seem to be part of my genetic coding. My brain must be lacking the necessary programing that makes repetition easy and comfortable. I can do it, but it doesn’t come naturally.

Unlike my husband, who gets up in the morning and proceeds with his usual, ordered, getting-ready-for-work tasks, I get up, and invariably think, What now? Should I take a shower first, or go get some breakfast? Or maybe I could read a bit more in that book I started last night before I get up… There are so many possibilities.

Maybe being self-employed and able to set my own schedule is responsible for this deficiency, or maybe my inability to naturally settle into a routine is why I’m self-employed.

It’s different when I am working on a book contract or illustration job (when I know exactly what I need to do each day – work till the project is done), but right now I don’t have any deadlines pending, so when I get to my workspace, I often can’t decide what to do first. I should probably work on that story idea I’ve been playing with, but working on that print I started last week is so much more fun than writing, but I also want to decorate this box I have with cuttings from old cookie tins… Sometimes I feel like I flit around my studio like a butterfly in a rose garden.

This is not something I am proud of, or even particularly happy about. I envy people who don’t have to think so hard about how to proceed with their day.

For example, consider the early American settlers (well, the women anyway) who followed the prescribed adage that divided their existence into seven tasks, one for each day of the week:


Monday = Wash

Tuesday = Iron

Wednesday = Sew

Thursday = Market

Friday = Clean

Saturday = Bake

Sunday = Rest


Iowa State historical society

Granted, that was a time when doing the wash took from dawn till dusk, and this arduously tedious life was probably not terribly fun, but can you imagine having only seven things to worry about accomplishing each week? No emails to answer, no dance lessons or soccer practice to take your kids to, no meetings to prepare for and attend. And a whole day set aside just to relax, without your needing to feel guilty that you aren’t being more productive.

I’ve been thinking about this idea – having one chore for each day of the week – but instead of household duties, I wonder if I could organize it to be a more work-related guideline for someone like me, who has a lot of creative things I want to do, and even more that I should be doing, but who has difficulty making decisions and getting into a regular routine.

So, how about a week that looks like this?


Monday = Write

Tuesday = Draw

Wednesday = Design

Thursday = Make

Friday = Sell

Saturday = Read

Sunday = Rest


Only one task per day, like a pioneer woman who has to sweat away at drafting her designs before sunset. I will still have to figure out how to still get all my emails answered and errands run and meetings attended, plus the other twenty-three items on my to-do list – not to mention housework! – but maybe I’ll try this new schedule out, at least during my usual working hours.

Simplify. Concentrate. Limitations can be useful. Narrow walls make it easier to focus straight ahead.

Is this idea even possible in our modern, hectic world? Am I crazy to attempt such a strict regimen considering the lack of imposed structure I am used to?

We’ll see. I’m not going to start embroidering it on any tea towels quite yet…

Sunday dishtowel detail

8 responses to “Days o’ The Week

  1. This was charming…I SO love the revised weekly schedule vs. the older schedule!

  2. I know you know that it’s never just one task, not for our ancestresses on the frontier or our sisters today. It’s washing plus a plethora of other stuff.

    As a freelancer with a distractable temperament, I have had to develop some organizing tools, and I imagine you have too. I’ve got lists big and small, that sit on my desk and wave their tiny fingers at me when I wander off, following some enticing idea.

  3. And I notice you didn’t include the days-of-the-week underwear!

  4. Oh, I did consider it Sandy! But opted for dish towels instead.

  5. Julie Paschkis

    Great dish towels too!
    I remember making a list like that of my ideal week when I was about 14. It included drawing and reading, but also chopping wood. – something that I don’t remember doing before or since….

  6. great post! i also have trouble with a self-imposed schedule. i create lots of to-do lists, but it really depends on my mood what i do that day. and even if i do have a deadline it’s hard for me to force myself to do the work in the best timely manner. i’m interested to hear if this new schedule works for you. maybe you could just schedule a certain time period each day for internet stuff, and do errands as you need to. i read this book called “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore which talks about making an “Un-Schedule” where you keep a weekly shedule with open slots for every hour, and only pencil in your pleasurable activities and pre-scheduled commitments first. then you pencil in every half hour of “work” you do, and try to complete no more than 20 hours a week, with an emphasis on starting activities and doing just one half hour at a time (unless you choose to do more). it’s like reverse psychology – you’ll eventually want to work more than that. it helps me, and when i block out my entire schedule like that it shows that the hours that seem wasted were actually used in some way.

  7. Although I am a list-maker by nature, sometimes I enjoy making a ‘To-Done’ list rather than ‘To-Do’ list. I jot down all the things I have actually accomplished over a weekend and then I don’t feel so badly about all the things that go undone. It’s rewarding to see what I actually do!

  8. I have to admit – I haven’t been able to try out my days o’ the week idea yet. Too busy! I hope to some day.
    Aijung Kim – thank you for your suggestions! In the past, I have tried setting specific times of the day for emails and other on-line tasks, with strict rules about not doing it during my work hours. It took an amazing amount of discipline, and it showed me exactly how much time it actually takes out of my day – hours!

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