- Alesandra Dubin is a freelance writer who finishes her work at noon every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- She frees up the afternoons by setting deadlines earlier and putting the effort upstream.
- This time for herself makes her a better professional and mother for the rest of the year.
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I am a proud mother of six year old twins and also a proud professional with a demanding and deadline oriented solo practice.
Most of the time – even when I’m not tentatively emerging from a pandemic like a thawing caveman – it all looks like a lot.
Indeed, like most working moms, I characterize myself as generally over-engaged and exhausted. But I have a strategy to ban burnout: I make my own summer Fridays.
For most of my career, I finished work around noon every Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Until a few years ago, this practice was conveniently incorporated into my working life as an employee of various New York-based media organizations, among which this type of structure is common employer-sanctioned practice and a tradition. beloved among the Staff.
When I transitioned to full-time independent living in 2019, it was entirely up to me to me to defend this sacred time of work and shopping. But now I have learned that it is a game changer for my lifestyle and my sense of self, so I am setting my limits.
To get there, I think of the summer as a whole, rather than looking at each week or each day individually.
I analyze the amount of work and the type of work I want to undertake in order to keep my summer Friday afternoons free.
Of course, sometimes the job has bottlenecks and some deadlines don’t go as planned. But putting in the effort up front – setting the intention, like I do – helps lay the foundation that supports the structure I want.
I’m also an obsessive time manager, so I give myself – and stick – to artificial deadlines early enough to avoid the potential for a bottleneck on Friday.
In most cases, I set myself deadlines only Monday through Thursday for the job requiring the most brainpower and time commitment, even if that means I deliver well ahead of a client’s immediate needs.
This, of course, is a good thing: it not only reduces my own stress on Fridays, but it also has the added benefit of making me a favorite freelance writer among my clients, and this general approach gives me After income throughout the year (although it can sometimes mean a little less in a given week here or there in the summer).
If I’m in town, here’s what I could do on a summer Friday: take a morning solo, get a massage, or go on a hike alone with my podcasts.
Here is what I do not Do: return things to Target, get a dental cleaning, or accidentally schedule a business meeting.
Those few hours that my kids are at school and my husband is at work are reserved for joyful, indulgent, or contemplative pursuits – not for checking things off a list. Those 12 Friday afternoons are my only time devoted to that end in a typical year, and I think they are a key pillar of my mental health strategy.
Summer Fridays dampen the rest of the week. And they mean my kids get the best of me – not the smoke-breathing version of me who might limp after a week of meetings without having had a chance to regroup yet.
And Summer Fridays are a mental health boon not just these weeks, but throughout. year, also: It’s a cherished rhythm that I look forward to and that makes me more productive, like a vacation already booked.
“By taking time exclusively for yourself and exclusively for the purpose of bringing pleasure, joy and comfort into your life, [that’s] makes it an act of radical self-compassion “, Leah Rockwell, Chartered Professional Counselor and Founder of Rockwell wellness, who specializes in burnout therapy, told Insider.
The notion of radical self-compassion comes from a concept founded by Kristin Neff almost 20 years ago.
“Yet for many overworked and successful women, it is an incredibly difficult concept to integrate into our daily lives,” said Rockwell. “While we may be the first person to rage advocate that a girlfriend do whatever it takes to take care of or put herself first, many of us can’t agree the same authorization. “
Rockwell said that by incorporating this permission into my real-time schedule, I am showing myself (and others around me) that my emotional well-being is a priority for me. “Why not capitalize on how summer can strengthen us? She added.
Getting into a relationship with what brings us joy is something our kids do all day, but we often deny it as adults. “By structuring your summer weeks the way you are, you have invited back into your life the summer bliss that we often assume adults just don’t have the right to, but we inherently desire it.” Rockwell said.
Podcast host and bestselling author Gretchen Rubin calls it “design your summer.”
“You want there to be something special about summer,” she said. “If you don’t plan for this or if you’re not very intentional about it, it’s very easy to pass days by.”
Anyone can design their summer, not just people who work their own hours or have a lot of disposable income.
“It’s not about taking a lot of time off work,” Rubin said. It’s more of an attitude.
Habits and routines have the effect of speeding up time, whereas “time seems rich and slow when things are different,” Rubin said. (This is why a three-day vacation can seem like a full chapter in our life.) So to make our lives richer and more textured, we need to make an effort to do something outside of our nonspecific seasonal routines. .
And I perhaps need this distinction more than ever since the pandemic has presented a seemingly endless period of days marked by the relentless similarity of staying at home.
As the world opens up again, I reserve both time and space for novelty, for variety, for pleasant personal challenges that will make time a little less fleeting and a lot more alive (all by strengthening my earning potential all year round).