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You are going to lose an hour of something this weekend.  What’s it going to be?

Officially, Daylight Saving Time begins here in the U.S. at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, March 11.  That time was chosen to minimize disruption, and for that purpose it makes even more sense now, in our globally-connected, instantaneously-communicating world, than it did back in 1918 when DST first started.  As a consequence of this dead-of-night transition, most of us have been told for years that, come the start of DST, we’re going to “lose an hour of sleep.”  Most of us probably do.  Studies have been done to try to quantify the effects of the switch to DST, and some of them have found increased numbers of traffic and workplace accidents due to the loss of sleep.

There’s no reason so many people have to lose an hour of sleep.  Folks could just go to bed an hour earlier on Saturday, or get up an hour later on Sunday.  Or two hours later, just to be sure.  Or why does it have to be an hour of any one thing?  Why not sacrifice 30 minutes of sleep and 30 minutes of Law & Order: SVU?  It’s not as if you don’t know how it’s going to end.

The same holds true next November, when we “get an extra hour of sleep.”  Personally, I’d rather get an extra hour of reading, or writing, or work done.  Back when I became a parent and a law firm associate in the same year, I learned just how flexible my sleep requirements could be, and now it seems a shame to waste my extra hour doing something I could be doing at a departmental meeting anyway.

My point is not that you should sleep less, or more, but that you should make a conscious choice of what you are going to do with the loss or gain of time, and not just allow yourself to be carried along in the currents of schedules created by others.  In fact, you don’t even need DST to put that policy to use.  There are plenty of forces in the world that impose their own schedules on you: official government time, television listings, public transportation timetables, time clocks at work, regular office meetings and duties, family obligations, and more.  We all need to integrate these external schedules into our lives without letting them take over completely.  Being creative and flexible with your personal schedule will not only lead to more options and less boredom, but will also enhance the sense of control over your own affairs that is, in fact, vital to actually having control over your own affairs.

So think about what you are going to give up this weekend, and next week, think about how you want to spend each “lunch hour” or about whether getting to and leaving from work a half-hour earlier each day might better fit with the rest of your life’s schedule.  Sure, we all have obligations, but never forget that some of them are to ourselves.