6 Things to Do Over the Weekend for a Better Workweek
Weekends are a glorious time away from the office, when you have the chance to decide for yourself how you want to spend your day. There are those who turn into fitness gurus over the weekend, hitting hiking trails at the nearest state park or training for that marathon in a few weeks. Others choose to make it a weekend of watching football and chowing down on grilled food with good friends.
Whatever you decide, there are some key ways to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your weekend, no matter what your idea of fun is. Not only will you be more relaxed and able to enjoy your time off, but you’ll also be ready for the next workweek, instead of dragging your feet to work on Monday morning. There are some times when you need to knock out some work in your free time, but making a habit of it isn’t in your best interest, or in the interests of your company. The weekends whiz past you, but that doesn’t mean you have to be swept away without gaining any benefits. Here are six ways to make sure you’re ready for the workweek, but taking full advantage of your weekends.
1. Leave work at work — even if you have to unplug
If you can’t manage this step, even in small increments of time, you’re probably feeling like you’re steadily marching toward inevitable burnout. Everyone knows they’re supposed to leave work at their desk on Friday afternoon, and maybe you’re able to leave it alone for Friday night. But then Saturday and Sunday come along, and you’re busy checking emails, doctoring a presentation for next week, or reading up on some documents for an upcoming deal. You’re not alone — about 30% of mobile users check their email accounts over the weekend. But it’s not doing you any favors for when you need to go back to work.
Frances Booth, author of The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World, wrote in a post for Forbes that if you’re feeling like you didn’t get enough done during the week and need to catch up, perhaps you should focus on improving your procrastination. People who go on vacation and truly unplug report that they’re more productive when they get back, and weekends should be viewed as weekly mini-vacations.
Not sure what to do without your phone? Pick up a non-tech hobby, like many other successful people. Warren Buffett plays the ukelele when he’s not busy being the king of Wall Street. Meryl Streep knits. Find something relaxing to do, without your laptop or phone or tablet, and see what happens.
2. Get moving
If your good intentions of going to the gym first thing Saturday morning haven’t panned out in the past week…or month…it’s time to get back on the saddle. Or the rowing machine. Exercise can be the remedy for all kinds of work-related ailments, including back pain from sitting in a terrible chair all day.
If you’re not the type of person who loves to exercise, there’s plenty of tricks to get you to the gym. Or, you could fool yourself into moving around more than you expect by grabbing a frisbee for the park, walking around town instead of driving two blocks, or taking a dancing class with your significant other. Author and business etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore writes for Entrepreneur that you’ll feel refreshed, and probably sleep better, too.
Plus, this isn’t a luxury for some people — everyone should make this a priority no matter how packed your calendar is. Anna Wintour, Vogue’s editor-in-chief, plays tennis for an hour each day. Richard Branson kite surfs. Find an outlet, and stick with it.
3. Eat up
You might be pretty excited for the nachos and wings that come with football season, but weekends are also the time to make sure you’re making up for those standing lunches and dinners from a box during your busy week. Food is food, but at some point it’s supposed to be nourishing, too.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and rich sources of protein replenish essential vitamins and minerals that may be missing in your everyday diet. If you enjoy cooking, try out some new recipes at home or take a cooking class,” Whitmore suggests.
While you have the extra time over the weekend, invest in your diet. You might not have time to consider it throughout the week between meetings, but weekends are the time to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need. Plus, many of them will help to boost your immune system and even fight stress, which you’ll need for the upcoming week.
4. Let your mind wander
Remember all those daydreams cut short during the 9-5 schedule because you need to focus on the email that just came in? Now’s the time to catch up. If meditation, stretching, or writing in a journal is your way of reflecting on the world, make sure you take time to do it in these two days, even if you can’t find the time in other parts of your schedule.
“Letting your mind wander is an important state for making connections between different pieces of information,” Booth advises. “It can help us connect seemingly unconnected things, and often leads to bright ideas.”
Weekends are also the time to reflect on your progress — good and bad. Bill Gates famously said, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” This is the time to evaluate where you’re at, and refocus on your priorities for the upcoming week if you’ve become a little distracted from the big picture.
5. Get rid of your nagging mental to-do list
Worse than the to-do list your significant other gives you is the mental one you’re keeping in your head. Does the car need washed? Do you need to pick up dry cleaning and call your mom? Instead of continuing to push those things off, now’s the time to tackle those things on your own before they become an overwhelming stack of personal errands.
“Often what overwhelms us during the week is a pile of personal admin tasks we need to deal with, clear through or do, that we just don’t have time for alongside work during the week. A weekend is a good time to get through the backlog of small tasks that will plague you all week long if they are not done, clearing space for concentrating on other things,” Booth said.
This is a quick way to catch up on a long list, but Booth also suggests taking care of tasks that will take 5 minutes or less immediately — even if you’re in the middle of your work day. That way, you’ll have more brain space dedicated to more important tasks, both during your week and in your free time.
Resting can sometimes look a lot different than relaxing. In this case, it can be a blend of relaxing — like chilling by a pool or in your backyard — and real, true rest. Take a nap, sleep in if you have to, and generally unwind. “Low-level constant working over evenings and weekends (for example checking email and doing work tasks) can lead to us not taking the opportunity to get the rest we need. Because digital devices mean we can work anywhere and any time, we often adopt these habits without thinking much about the consequences,” Booth says, who happens to be an expert in digital habits.
Apparently, Oprah practices stillness — just sitting or laying in place — for 20 minutes at a time, twice a day. If you can’t do that, at least make sure you’re getting your seven to nine hours of sleep each night, even though you’re tempted to be out late. You’ll thank yourself for the rest of the week.
Follow Nikelle on Twitter @Nikelle_CS