sunday life: in which I quit the sunday afternoon email catch-up habit

This week I reclaim my SundayOliver-Burkeman-Sundays-011

Sundays are sad. So says a Swedish study just out. It found the Sabbath the most depressing day of the week because (and I just love how big, important studies have an uncanny knack for pointing out the bleeding obvious) it’s the day before school and work starts. It also found the mood plunge is particularly profound among married couples and East Germans. (I could venture a theory on this, but I fear it’d only make things bleaker.)

Me, I’ve often found Sundays mood-sinky. When I was a kid, they were Dickensian-grim. As the sun set and the dam snap-froze over for the night, Dad would haul me and my brothers out to the back paddocks to chop wood for the week. Then Mum would line us up on the verandah to scrub knees and cut toenails. We’d catch the last bit of The Wonderful World of Disney before dinner. Then bed, the dread of first period clinging to us, prickly and restrictive like a Fair-Isle jumper in the rain.

As adults, you’d think we’d find a way to address this. To make Sundays sunnier. I know some people head to the pub on Sunday nights by way of a final hoorah to the weekend. This was a fad for a while and I hear it put off the inevitable quite effectively.

But I’ve noticed more recently that Sundays have taken on a panicky, catch-up quality. There’s not enough time in the week to get everything done. Certain tasks – wading through long emails, finishing that advisory report, filling out health insurance forms  – can’t get done in the Monday-Friday flurry. So we set aside “just a few hours” on Sunday afternoon to “get on top of things”.

Read more