What will you do with an extra hour?

What will you do with the extra hour this weekend?  The gift of an extra hour with the end of daylight saving time feels like hearing from a long-lost friend, finding a $20 bill in a coat pocket, or discovering an empty drawer in the cupboard. It makes for an extra long day with every hour passing more slowly.

A troll of the internet to find how people will spend the extra time found that catching up on sleep was the top choice. Spending more time in bed on Sunday morning or having an afternoon nap is understandable for a sleep-deprived population. During the hectic years when I balanced a career and motherhood, this was always a personal top choice.

Spending more time with family was the next most popular choice.  Many young parents feel guilty about constant rushing during the week — for their work, for commuting, and for children’s extracurricular activities. An extra hour on the weekend  gives an opportunity to plan a child-oriented activity.  Using the extra hour for a special time with partner or spouse was also a leading choice.

Many suggestions related to indulging in a leisurely breakfast or cooking  a special meal. Preparing and sharing food with family means spending quality time together. It is commonly believed that food is the heart of every family occasion.  Putting together a meal for yourself, friends and family is a gesture of kindness and a method of spending meaningful time with people who matter in life.

A more personal use of the extra hour involved some form of self-pampering or relaxation.  Pure indulgences such as having a manicure and/or pedicure, reading a popular magazine, or eating quality chocolate accompanied with strong coffee are ideas for doing something special for yourself.

Sadly, using the extra time for something that’s pure fun ranked below going to the gym or exercising. Too often in our busy lives, we forget that play or goofing off or simply wasting time is a legitimate way of clearing the mind and caring for ourselves. Goofing off should not be dismissed as it can relieve stress and improve creativity.

For those who want a productive and concrete way to use the extra hour, there were suggestions for mundane tasks that can be finished in an hour.  Ideas included sorting out the cupboard under the kitchen sink, cleaning the fridge, or tidying the hall closet to make room for winter coats and boots.  De-cluttering the email inbox with mass deletions was an idea I liked for the payoff of better organization — at least briefly!

In my experience, after the weekend,  the ‘extra’ time gets absorbed in the busyness of a typical day.  I’ve had success with readjusting  wake up time.  Because my body clock usually wakes between 7 and 7:30 am, I try to stay with this natural wake up time and keep my body from re-adjusting.

This simple strategy means getting up between 6 and  6:30 am after the time change to keep an extra hour in the day. Unfortunately, after a few days, the body clock re-adjusts, perhaps because of the pattern of daylight or because 6 am feels too early. This year I’ll try to keep the extra hour by going to bed earlier and reminding myself of how I’ll productively the time.  Hopefully I’ll keep the precious extra time — at least for a week or two!

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