I feel slightly ashamed to admit this, but I spent most of the day in bed. Well, I should be more honest and say that I’m still in bed at this very moment with no real plans to get out of it any time soon. It’s pretty late in the afternoon and the sun’s about to set. I’ve barely seen daylight today and everything I’ve been taught tells me I should get out of bed, but I probably won’t. At least not for a while.
Don’t worry. I’m not sick or going through some nasty depressive episode where I have no choice but to stay in bed. I just chose to stay in bed today. And despite some feelings of shame, I’m glad I did.
This September I started a new degree program. I love the program, but the schedule is punishing. Lots of projects happen at the same time and many times during the week I find myself running from one thing to the next. Sleep during the week is a luxury and whatever free time I have, I feel like I spend on preparing for the next thing. It can wear you out.
I’ve dealt with this kind of schedule before. And it didn’t work out very well. I’ve written about it before on this blog. How I let my schedule be the driving force in my life, how I equated busyness with success, and how that led to some disastrous results for my health and professional life. I was determined not to let it happen again.
But how? Especially when I have so many things to do. The answer came from another fellow student. She already had a year under her belt in the program and we got talking about how to keep sane. She told me her strategy and it struck me as brilliant. She carves out time in her schedule to be away from school for one day and she uses that day to do whatever she wants. Take one day off, guilt free.
It seems like such a simple idea, but it never occurred to me. Before, I would use any free day I had to either schedule rehearsals or practice. I would keep busy. Now, it’s liberating to have one day where I’m free to do nothing.
That day is Sunday. I call it my inviolable day off. I make it a point to make my Sundays completely free. Take today. During the past week, two groups asked me if I was free to rehearse today. I said no. Even just a year ago, I probably would have said yes, either because I felt guilty about saying no or because I felt that I had to work every chance I got. Now, I said no and didn’t feel guilty about it. That’s progress.
And the day off really helps. I find myself coming back to school feeling recharged and ready for work. My energy levels are higher, I feel less worn out, and my enthusiasm for actually being at school remains high since I consciously take a day to be away from it. Not only that, I feel like I’m playing better. I think that’s because the day off helps me digest things I’ve been practicing during the week. The day off also forces me to use whatever time I have to practice more efficiently. I plan more what I need to get done and I get it done. The day of freedom has made me more organized.
Now I’m a full convert to this inviolable day off. I feel much more in control of my schedule and I’m less overwhelmed by the things I have to do. It really is a day to recharge my batteries and I’ve seen nothing but positive changes. I eat better, I work better, I feel so much better. The day off makes me feel like a human being. I might have spent today mostly in bed, but other days I’ve spent reading or exercising or just thinking. It gives me the time to come up with ideas or be inspired by other things than just music. How I lived without this day off before I don’t know; what I do know is that it will now be a regular part of my life.