I have incidentally mentioned the vast expanse of forty-four hours

between leaving business at 2 p.m. on Saturday and returning to

business at 10 a.m. on Monday. And here I must touch on the point

whether the week should consist of six days or of seven. For many

years--in fact, until I was approaching forty--my own week consisted

of seven days. I was constantly being informed by older and wiser

people that more work, more genuine living, could be got out of six

days than out of seven.

And it is certainly true that now, with one day in seven in which I

follow no programme and make no effort save what the caprice of the

moment dictates, I appreciate intensely the moral value of a weekly

rest. Nevertheless, had I my life to arrange over again, I would do

again as I have done. Only those who have lived at the full stretch

seven days a week for a long time can appreciate the full beauty of

a regular recurring idleness. Moreover, I am ageing. And it is a

question of age. In cases of abounding youth and exceptional energy

and desire for effort I should say unhesitatingly: Keep going, day

in, day out.

But in the average case I should say: Confine your formal programme

(super-programme, I mean) to six days a week. If you find yourself

wishing to extend it, extend it, but only in proportion to your

wish; and count the time extra as a windfall, not as regular income,

so that you can return to a six-day programme without the sensation

of being poorer, of being a backslider.

Let us now see where we stand. So far we have marked for saving out

of the waste of days, half an hour at least on six mornings a week,

and one hour and a half on three evenings a week. Total, seven

hours and a half a week.

I propose to be content with that seven hours and a half for the

present. "What?" you cry. "You pretend to show us how to live, and

you only deal with seven hours and a half out of a hundred and

sixty-eight! Are you going to perform a miracle with your seven

hours and a half?" Well, not to mince the matter, I am--if you will

kindly let me! That is to say, I am going to ask you to attempt an

experience which, while perfectly natural and explicable, has all

the air of a miracle. My contention is that the full use of those

seven-and-a-half hours will quicken the whole life of the week, add

zest to it, and increase the interest which you feel in even the

most banal occupations. You practise physical exercises for a mere

ten minutes morning and evening, and yet you are not astonished when

your physical health and strength are beneficially affected every

hour of the day, and your whole physical outlook changed. Why

should you be astonished that an average of over an hour a day given

to the mind should permanently and completely enliven the whole

activity of the mind?

More time might assuredly be given to the cultivation of one's self.

And in proportion as the time was longer the results would be

greater. But I prefer to begin with what looks like a trifling


It is not really a trifling effort, as those will discover who have

yet to essay it. To "clear" even seven hours and a half from the

jungle is passably difficult. For some sacrifice has to be made.

One may have spent one's time badly, but one did spend it; one did

do something with it, however ill-advised that something may have

been. To do something else means a change of habits.

And habits are the very dickens to change! Further, any change,

even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and

discomforts. If you imagine that you will be able to devote seven

hours and a half a week to serious, continuous effort, and still

live your old life, you are mistaken. I repeat that some sacrifice,

and an immense deal of volition, will be necessary. And it is

because I know the difficulty, it is because I know the almost

disastrous effect of failure in such an enterprise, that I earnestly

advise a very humble beginning. You must safeguard your self-

respect. Self-respect is at the root of all purposefulness, and a

failure in an enterprise deliberately planned deals a desperate

wound at one's self-respect. Hence I iterate and reiterate: Start

quietly, unostentatiously.

When you have conscientiously given seven hours and a half a week to

the cultivation of your vitality for three months--then you may

begin to sing louder and tell yourself what wondrous things you are

capable of doing.

Before coming to the method of using the indicated hours, I have one

final suggestion to make. That is, as regards the evenings, to

allow much more than an hour and a half in which to do the work of

an hour and a half. Remember the chance of accidents. Remember

human nature. And give yourself, say, from 9 to 11.30 for your task

of ninety minutes.

Reflections on Progress REVERENCE. facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail