After my summer vacation, I decided I was going to take Fridays off. For the past six weeks I have taken Creative Fridays.
At Liberate Science my promise to the employees from the outset has been that we work four days a week. Despite fulfilling that promise to them in contracts and in practice, I never fulfilled that promise to myself consistently.
I decided my way of delivering on that promise to myself was Creative Fridays. On this day, I work on being more expressive, creative, less inhibited. I don’t work but get intionally creative. Having one day slotted for just that purpose helped me channel a desire to get creative that otherwise would evaporate throughout life.
Every week, I keep a running list of things I might want to do on Creative Friday. Come Friday, I pick what’s most appealing to me, for whatever reason, and go out and do that. Somedays, I go out for a walk and take my notebook with me, just to let my thoughts wander. Other days I have a desire to taste new food and find a place for lunch — I already discovered some delicious tacos! I’ve had long, intimate conversations on the phone that I otherwise would not have prioritised. I started taking pictures again; I am mixing and dancing to the music I’ve missed partying to since 2020. The purpose is not to be productive, it's to be open to things coming into existence for no other reason than that.
At first, Creative Friday was an experiment. I was afraid it would not be feasible with the workload from running Liberate Science, that I would feel too much pressure to get creative. But lo and behold, I get everything done in four days just as well. Parkinson’s law states you’ll take whatever time is allocated to some task, and it seems to anecdotally work here. I also don't feel pressured as I am getting better at turning the switch.
I now by default block my Fridays and prioritise my work to fit in four days. No amount of efficiency and time spent at the job will make me be able to do everything, so four days or five really only makes me more focused instead of less focused.
Structurally taking time for myself provides me with a new sense of stability. It means I don’t get caught up in the day to day as much, and have more space to see the bigger picture for what it is — the day to day feels like the most important thing when stressed out, but of course it is not even if it is important. I am able to respond more empathetically and that makes me like my job more too!
Taking that dedicated time also showed me how little I structurally did for myself - I (and maybe you too) tend to focus on others' needs first. It is something I have done all my life; giving myself permission to focus on me even for a day is liberating. I prioritise what I do and why I do it. It helps me not be excessively generous at the expense of myself on other days too.
What do you do for yourself on a structural basis? Take yourself for lunch, get a mani-pedi? I’d love to hear how you take care of yourself 😊