What’s in a Week?

Master your own schedule under quarantine

Quick, what day is it today? Don’t know? Does it even matter any more? Many of us under lockdown have found that time is becoming more and more irrelevant. The seven day framework we were born into still stands but has lost its dominion over us, much like Santa Claus has lost his influence over us adults. What do we owe this five-days-on two-days-off cycle anyways?

If you really want to blame someone, try the Babylonians. About 2,600 years ago they believed there were only seven bodies in our solar system and decided each should have its own day of a nifty new period of time we now call a week. Here is an article to start you down that rabbit hole. And for those who are incredibly lazy, I’ve not only Googled it for you but also found a link on a cool new website that covers dozens of topics from the French Revolution to Slinkies. It’s called Wikipedia and here’s what they have to say about the week’s history.

The week has caused several problems over time. Seven being a prime number creates issues for us humans. We like to break things down and divide them evenly into groups. If you want to water your plants every other day or go to the gym every third day, seven is a tough number to deal with. Our habits crave a weekly schedule. Also, the monotheistic religions have selected different times of the week to be reserved for prayer. This meant that different societies would take a day off work at different times during the week. For those who don’t keep the Sabbath, they mostly worked every day. Chinese, Mayan, and ancient Persian markets were open daily. Even today, many family-owned small businesses choose to open seven days a week. So it seems humans have never agreed upon which day or days should be set aside for rest and which are for work.  

The coronavirus is weakening the hold our seven-day week has on us.  Many of the institutions that assumed our conformity to the week are in flux. Schools still require children to do homework but they and their parents have far more control over which hours in the week are dedicated to learning and which can be used for something else. Our bosses still check up on our progress, but we can choose to do our work in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings. Sports teams have stopped holding weekly practices, churches have cancelled Sunday worship, and streaming services have shut the lid on the importance of prime time television slots. 

Personally, I worked weekends for years and would find myself in good company Sunday nights at the bar with others who had Monday off. Construction sites outside my apartment in China only paused for national holidays. The lady who sold me juice, vegetables and soap in Uganda worked every day. For millions of people the concept of work days and weekends was already meaningless.

Now, thanks to social distancing or lockdown, YOU’RE FREE! You can make your own calendar. Why not work three days and take one off? You can plan around your family. You can watch Netflix in the morning and do your work at night. You can work every other morning and every other afternoon. Have fun with it. Find a routine that works for you.

I’ve been alone at home now for almost seven weeks. I’ve organized my mornings to be spent on my main job while alternating the afternoons between my side hustle and hobbies. Every fifth day I catch up on my finances, organize my photos between my phone and various Google Drive folders, clean the apartment and do laundry. 

We don’t know how long we’ll be under these conditions. And we don’t know which of society’s traditions that have been suspended will be resurrected afterwards. So take this opportunity to create your own week. Don’t feel bad about shunning the old system. Remember, even the LEGO Moive held Freedom Friday on a Tuesday.


1 thought on “What’s in a Week?

  1. cindy richardson Reply

    I had a boss who would get a little goofy sometimes. One day he proposed getting rid of April because nobody likes to pay taxes. Instead, he suggested we take the extra days and tack them onto some weeks — calling them Furdays — because they would be “fur this and fur that”. LOL

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