Remember when the week was neatly divided into a cycle of manageable chunks?

By Daniel Benneworth-Gray

Andrew Werdna. andrewwerdna.com

Remember Week? I liked Week. Week made sense. I appreciated how Week was neatly divided into a cycle of manageable chunks; five for work, two for cartoons and jigsaws. The UI of Week was a bit skewiff – fashioned from a hotchpotch of Norse mythology, Judeo-Christian DIY habits, pagan leftovers, Roman gods and planetary orbits – but it mostly worked. Week provided the comfort of repetition. You knew where you were with Week.

And now … well, now I’m self-employed, Week is long gone. Is it Tuesday? Am I supposed to be doing something on Tuesday? Didn’t we just do a Tuesday? Or was that last week? There’s a lot to be said about the wonderful chaos of autonomy, but I’ve come to realise that a certain level of predictability is good for my mental wellbeing. It’s hard to keep a firm grasp on the passage of time – if you don’t have the framework of office hours and weekends and bank holidays, the universe changes shape and meaning a little bit.

And now … well, now I’m self-employed, Week is long gone. Is it Tuesday? Am I supposed to be doing something on Tuesday? Didn’t we just do a Tuesday? Or was that last week?

Add to this the whims of a pre-schooler’s turbulent social life into the mix, and time falls apart completely. It congeals into a bewildering nougat of work, rest and play. Everything feels urgent. I’m in and out and working and I’m not working and then I’m sort of working and then maybe I’m eating and then there might be sleep and it goes on and on and on. There’s no beginning, middle or end; no clocking off for the weekend because I have no idea when the weekend is upon me. I feel no sense of progress or pause, just this constant … constantness. Everyday is like Wednesday.

But all is not lost! Having spent the last few years completely deconstructing Week, I’m slowly starting to patch it back together again. Auntie has shown me the way. Television may no longer offer the dependably rigid schedule that it once did – displaced by box-sets and catch-ups – but there are still some things that demand to be seen when broadcast, and BBC Four have reinstated an important tradition, one programmed into the very core of the human condition: Seven thirty. Thursday night.Top of the Pops.

Sure, it may be repeats (fabulous, fabulous repeats), but this half hour of appointment-TV provides a vital waypoint from which to navigate the rest of Week. It’s something to look forward to, to stop work for, to be in a particular place for, a reason to be still for a set amount of time. Once I latched onto this, I noticed other little markers presenting themselves on certain days, small events against which time can be measured.

On Tuesday, a welcome chunk of advice, inspiration and inspiration from Lecture in Progress lands in my inbox. On Wednesday, social media automaton and absolute hero @binnightbot reminds me to put the bins out (impossible to overstate how important this is to the smooth running of my life). On Friday, Tina Roth Eisenberg’s Friday Link Pack digests all the best bits of the web into one manageable procrastinatory list. On Saturday, book design mavens Spine Magazine keep me on my toes by sharing the week’s finest new book covers. And then the Design Museum’s #FontSunday turns Twitter into a wonderful festival of type (#TypeTuesday is entirely different).

It’s not as clear-cut as the old nine-to-five pattern of Week, but amongst these newsletters, hashtags and blogs, little reading habits and activities, a gentle rhythm can still be found. Gradually, day by day, I’ll make a path back to good old dependable Week. And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the ultimate prize: Weekend.

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