The beauty of Errand Day

Fridays are my day off now, and I have designated them Errand Day.  It is on Fridays that I go to the post office and pick up our groceries, that I send thank you notes and call companies to nag--ahem, inquire--about billing mistakes, and that I vacuum and sweep and dust and do laundry.  I usually approach life with an attitude of moderation: have a little dessert, write a paper a few pages at a time over the course of a week or two, cut back on rather than exclude entirely life's less healthy indulgences.  So no one is more surprised than I about my genuine fondness for Errand Day.  I do no chores or errands (if I can help it) six days a week, and every seventh day, I do them all.

On Errand Day hours of manual labor may stretch before me, but it is a relief to know that everything will get done.  Instead of worry about fitting in loads of laundry in between Bible studies and staff meetings and cooking weeknight dinners, I know that I can rest easy until Friday.  I have freed up mental space, no longer needing to decide how and when to fit everything into my schedule.  Is it a chore or an errand that takes more than five minutes?  Then I'll do it Friday.

Gretchen Rubin has the concept of a "Power Hour," a time once a week that she sets aside for dreaded tasks.  Her logic is that it is better to get all of these nagging items on her to-do list completed at once rather than allowing them to continue to deplete her intellectual energy and contribute to her anxiety.  I suppose that my Errand Day is sort of like a Power Hour on steroids, except that not all of my agenda is cumbersome or unenjoyable.

I actually kind of like scrubbing out my refrigerator at the end of a long workweek, using my hands to scrape the grime off the plastic shelves and feeling the water of the sink wash away the remains of the previous week.  I like vacuuming up Gigi's never-ending supply of shedding hair and creating a new slate for the days which lie ahead.  I like organizing our pantry items into Mason jars and categories, restoring order to a life that has become chaotic in the face of meetings and rush hour traffic and frenzied email exchanges and deadlines.  I like that completing errands and chores ties up loose ends and hits the reset button.

I receive a fresh start, each Friday night.  For Christians, the beginning of the week is supposedly Sunday, which is both the first day and the eighth day, the day of the insurrection.  But I think really, if I'm honest, I feel more kinship with the Jews when it comes to keeping a calendar.  After a period of work, I prepare for the rest that Saturday will bring, a true day off, when I distance myself from the demands of the household and the church and school, all which stimulate, challenge, and fulfill me, even more so when I step away periodically.   I make space for celebration and delight and relief, knowing that the work will all be there tomorrow.  

 

Emily Rowell Brownlife, work