Day of maintenance

Day of Rest

Many cultures observe a "day of rest."

Though often packaged in mawkish religiosity, these days of rest have something to teach even the most fundamentalist secularists among us.

But we already know that. For the body, we take rests days to prevent injury. For the mind, many productivity-zealots dabble in dopamine fasts and daily meditations because creativity and self-awareness require a balance of focused thinking and diffusive thinking[^1]. We can't get to diffusive thinking without undirected time for reflection.

Still, at least for me, the idea of dedicating one day a week to doing nothing sounds a little extreme. As far as I can tell, I don't have a spiritual void to fill with the a weekly church service, and my daily moments of pause—in meditation, meals, and walks—are currently enough to prevent mental collapse. Why sacrifice time that I could be doing something?

Day of Maintenance

Instead of a day of rest, then, I propose a day of maintenance. If you're anything like me (and, I wager, most humans), you're liable to suffer a severe case of novelty bias—constantly starting new projects without finishing what you've already started. 1

On a day of maintenance, you'd curtail content creation (be it in writing, programming, researching, painting, composing, etc.). Instead, you'd maintain what you've already begun. E.g.: cleaning up your Zettelkasten, trimming your GitHub repos, maybe writing the documentation and tests you've been putting off, organizing your references, managing your GTD and email inboxes, and conducting a weekly review.

Moreover, you can easily combine it with your more mundane household chores: vacuuming and tidying, washing your clothes, or doing a groceries haul.

Especially when a pandemic and lock-down threaten to turn your every day into a copy of every other, a day of maintenance, rest, or "the lord" might be just the thing that restores your control over time. And maybe if we all spent just a little more time on maintenance, there'd be just a little less crap out there: less garbage code, out-of-date libraries, repetitive apps, and disappointing platitudes. So get maintaining.


[1]: Aka system one versus system two thinking or the default mode network versus task-positive network.


  1. Right after I finished my first draft of this piece, I found Cody McLain's The Importance Of A Maintenance Day And Why You Need One. Like always and everywhere, it's impossible to be original. Even in presentation. Oh well.