A recent study found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more. That’s right, people who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.
Successful people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities. We need to use our weekends to create a better week ahead. I've often refer to it as "pacing" ourselves, like in a marathon. You don't start out a marathon in a sprint......or at least I don't. My goal is to finish.....standing upright. I set my pace in the beginning and stay focused on the end goal. Same thing in work, if I started out my week in an all off sprint, I might not make it to the end. And the rest breaks between "races" are critical for recovery.
This is easier said than done, so here’s some help that might come in handy. The following list contains 10 things that successful people do to find balance on the weekend and to come into work at 110% on Monday morning. Not all of them are easy to accomplish but even if you are able to recognize each you can give yourself some much needed recovery.
1. They Disconnect
Disconnecting is the most important weekend strategy on this list, because if you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work Friday evening through Monday morning, then you’ve never really left work. This isn't easy at all because I am addicted to checking my emails and following up on calls. I just have the urge to respond.....immediately. I like to be "available". Question is, how available should I be?
Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging. My wife and I have an agreement (doesn't always work but we try) when we get home on a Friday evening we turn off our phones so they don't distract us. We both seem to be drawn to responding.....sometimes it isn't necessarily work, it could be family or other outside obligations. Time together without interruptions is important for our relationship which needs recharging as well. Many times we need to put our phones on the chargers and leave them there in another room. That helps sometimes. If taking the entire weekend off handling work e-mails and calls isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking e-mails and responding to voicemails. Scheduling short blocks of time will alleviate stress without sacrificing availability.
2. They Minimize Chores
Chores have a funny habit of completely taking over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect. What’s worse is that a lot of chores feel like work, and if you spend all weekend doing them, you just put in a seven-day workweek. To keep this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the allotted time, you move on and finish them the following weekend. My list of honey-dos is long and most of it I created myself. Honestly if I've had a long week, I don't even touch the list, even if it is small. I just need the downtime. My list will be there next weekend.
Another thing I do is keep my list as digital so I can make it off as I do it. It makes me feel accomplished when I see it getting done. I used to do these on paper, now it is in penultimate so it's with me. Often I may knock out a very small item at the end of a day. Or even part of an item. If I do that the list doesn't become quite as long over the weekend and again a better chance of getting them off the list. Any piece or part makes me feel that progress is being made.
3. They Reflect
Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization, and your job. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busy work, you should be able to see things in a whole new light. Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, improving the efficiency and efficacy of your work. I seem to navigate myself to instruction and ideas of others. If I don't watch out I will catch myself doing to much of this on the weekend and not getting other things completed. My list of action items are different on the weekend than during the week. Just as important as the big corporate meeting or reviewing the contracts for the big new project is the time allocated to sitting out on our patio (nicknamed The Sanctuary- because of all the flowers I've planted and care for) with my wife. I can't sacrifice that relationship.
Recently I've read a book by Dr. Jason Selk on Mental Toughness. His principles have helped me place priorities on the key critical needs and goals in my life. It's not just about righting them down (although that is vastly important) but it's about accomplishing them as well. What good are goals if you are not making any effort at attaining them. Equally important is ranking your success on how well you did. Be honest with your evaluation or it won't make a difference when you look back on your statistics.
4. They Exercise
No time to exercise during the week? You have 48 hours every weekend to make it happen. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress. Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity. I become a marathon runner just last year. Without going into my entire story as to why, you can look it up on RunEugeneRun. I not only run/ exercise on weekends but during the week. It's healthy and clears my mind at the start of the day. However on weekends I try to hit longer runs....6 miles or more. I really enjoy the neighborhood runs as it is familiar territory and I don't really need to concentrate about my route or distances. I can pretty ponder on what pops into my head. Often it is just wondering around in my head but that is good too.
When I run a marathon I have a lot of time....and distance to think about many things.....including why in the world am I doing this!? Sometimes I consider myself a captive audience and can really dig into focusing on a issue I'm dealing with......after all I have several hours to ponder a solution. This always allows me to think of something other than what mile marker is coming up.
The combination of invigorating activity and beautiful scenery creates the perfect environment for an influx of creativity. Whether you’re running, cycling, or gardening, exercise leads to endorphin-fueled introspection. The key is to find a physical activity that does this for you and then to make it an important part of your weekend routine.
5. They Pursue a Passion
You might be surprised what happens when you pursue something you’re passionate about on weekends. Indulging your passions is a great way to escape stress and to open your mind to new ways of thinking. Things like playing music, reading, writing, painting, or even playing catch with your kids can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge dividends over the coming week.
When I'm not running forever and ever on the weekends I enjoy working in the yard. Yeah, I know it sounds pretty lame but after years of coaching my kids in sports on Saturday mornings.....and sometimes all day Saturday, I found gardening as a release. My wife jokes me because I'm no longer coaching kids but 'coaching flowers'! I never cared much about the yard before other than that the grass was cut. But now, along with the grass I have enjoyed planting flowers around the back creating our Sanctuary. It is rewarding to see the small plants grow and bloom and I get so much satisfaction of not really doing much but planting and watering.
6. They Spend Quality Time with Family
Spending quality time with your family on the weekend is essential if you want to recharge and relax. Family time on the weekend is not only essential but I feel is mandatory. They need your time as well and appreciate them becoming as important as your work. Take your kids to the park, take your spouse to his or her favorite restaurant, and go visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.
If your a scheduler geek and cannot just 'hang out' with your family, then plan something. Plan your weekend time together whether it is a movie or ballgame. Spending money isn't always a necessity. Spending quality time is.
7. They Schedule Micro-Adventures
Buy tickets to a concert or play, or get reservations for that cool new hotel that just opened downtown. Instead of running on a treadmill, plan a hike. Try something you haven’t done before or perhaps something you haven’t done in a long time. Studies show that anticipating something good to come is a significant part of what makes the activity pleasurable. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun come Saturday, but it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.
The older I get the more I feel that there are things that I'm going to miss out that I have always wanted to do. I've found races in areas where there was something I wanted to see or do. Yes, it is my bucket list. However it doesn't have to be an enormous thing to make it on the list. A little adventure is fun and relaxing too. I've got some that are crazy and some as simple as seeing a sunset from a particular balcony somewhere in the world.
8. They Wake Up at the Same Time
It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on your sleep. Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your circadian rhythm. Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed. One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off (the brain is trained and ready). When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired. This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time. If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.
Sometimes I just cannot stay awake late. I've gone to bed at 7:30 on a Friday night before and no I wasn't sick. Just worn out. After all many of us are really hustling out there and a full day can be a drain. I'd rather crash early and be ready for the next day refreshed instead of persevering begrudgingly forcing myself to stay awake. Listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs.
9. They Designate Mornings as Me Time
It can be difficult to get time to yourself on the weekends, especially if you have family. Finding a way to engage in an activity you’re passionate about first thing in the morning can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind. It’s also a great way to perfect your circadian rhythm by forcing yourself to wake up at the same time you do on weekdays. Your mind achieves peak performance two-to-four hours after you wake up, so get up early to do something physical, and then sit down and engage in something mental while your mind is at its peak.
My morning starts off the same weekday and weekend. I partake in my own version of Miracle Morning as writing by Hal Elrod. It's a time that I can do some inner focus before the day starts. That sets the tone for me all day.....especially on the weekends. After all, who wants to waste a minute of the weekend just sleeping?
10. They Prepare for the Upcoming Week
The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your upcoming week. As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan because all you have to focus on is execution. Without a plan or agenda for the week......I feel lost. When I feel lost.....I'm not sure what I'm supposed to accomplish, or least not immediately. If I take a few minutes and write down my tasks and the tasks that I'm delegating, then I can remain focused and cross off the items as each one is completed. That is a great feeling and leaves me knowing what still needs to be done next week. Less stress.
Bringing It All Together
What do you do to make your weekends great? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me. Just remember, everything needs refueling from time to time. A race car needs fuel. A plant needs water. And your body needs food, water and rest.......otherwise it can breakdown.
Take some time my friends and enjoy your weekend......THIS WEEKEND! Don't wait.