Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daily Routines

I recently stumbled across a collection of the daily routines of famous people (a blog currently on hold as the idea is being turned into a book).

Browsing through, I was intrigued by the routines which involved chunks of work interspersed with large blocks of leisure time, with great things accomplished in those concentrated work periods, presumably at least in part because the leisure meant that mental and physical batteries could be recharged. For example, Winston Churchill:

  • 7.30 - Woke, ate breakfast in bed and read the papers, then worked in bed
  • 11.00 - Got up, bathed, took a walk, went to his study (presumably to work)
  • 1.00 - Extended three course lunch until...
  • 3.30 - More work, or played cards or backgammon with his wife
  • 5.00 - Nap
  • 6.30 - Bathed and dressed for dinner
  • 8.00 - Dinner with drinks and cigars afterwards (could last until after midnight)
  • After dinner - back to his study for another hour or so of work
And this was C.S.Lewis's ideal, based on the days when he lived with his tutor:
  • 8.00 - Breakfast
  • 9.00 - Work
  • 1.00 - Lunch
  • By 2.00 - out for a walk
  • No later than 4.15 - afternoon tea (alone with a book)
  • 5.00 - Work
  • 7.00 - Dinner, followed by leisure to talk or for lighter reading
Inevitably, most (or all?) of the routines described do not involve even basic domestic duties, which were presumably performed by wives or servants, yet alone responsibility for childcare. One of the things I find hard about life with children is the fragmentation of time - the snatching of an hour here, or a half-hour there - and the inevitable interruptions that make it hard to truly focus on anything, or to fully recharge. Skimming through the daily routines got me fantasising about how I would like my days to look if I had no commitments, and how much more it would be possible to accomplish if I was free to match the structure of my day to my natural rhythms (read: night owl!) ... or even if I was just able to think in chunks of time rather than snippets. I think working from 10 until 1, followed by a long lunch, exercise and some reading time, then work again from 4 to 7, followed by dinner and a leisurely evening sounds pretty good - not far off C.S.Lewis's ideal, but with a slightly later start.


Missus Wookie said...

Oh I hear you on the fragmented - it is the one change I'm having trouble getting used to. Whilst hsing I'd be done by 2pm, kids scattered hung out and usually left me alone to work until dinner. Now dd is home 4ish needing a chunk of time...

But I'm glad she wants to be with me usually :)

Melanie B said...

Ah for the leisure of an unfragmented schedule! I think Virgina Wolfe got it all wrong. It's not so much a room of my own that I need as a regular schedule and some quiet time. Someone to mind the kids and cook dinner and clean the house. Ah then, then I could write.

Like sunshine in the home said...

Cool I've bookmarked that site. I used to love reading A Life in the Day of... in the Sunday Times.

I think my ideal day would be like this:

1 pm get up
1.30pm have lunch
2 pm go back to bed

LOL. :p

LeeAnn Balbirona said...

Thanks for the interesting link! I love that kind of thing.

Karen E. said...

Ah, Kathryn, your thoughts were mine exactly! As I read over (drooled over) those schedules, my first thought was, "Notice they don't have to schedule in time to MAKE those meals," and so on, re. other domestic duties and mothering.

Unfragmented time to think -- what a luxury it would be! :) I like Lewis's schedule too, and, like you, would just like to start it a little later.

Nancy Piccione said...

Those schedules just make me wish! So wonderful. The other day, I was writing an author Q&A for an interview while at one daughter's irish dance practice, because I knew it wouldn't get done any other time. (Of course, I should be writing now, but I'm taking a break!)I don't really want a cook, but I would love a housekeeper/kid transporter (other than me).