Most of us cannot leave our jobs on Friday evening and not think about work until we arrive back on Monday morning. If we work for a company, there are always task responsibilities that are either long-term or that are rather urgent and need attention over the weekend. If we are entrepreneurs, we really never “get away” from work – it is so intimately intertwined with our very existence.
And yet weekends do come, and we are often torn between the desire to just “kick back” and all of those nagging tasks or ideas that are fermenting around in our gray matter. To be productive on the weekend, you have to stop the tug of war going on in your head and find the right balance. Here are some ways of how you could do that (tested on me).
You have to have a plan.
As distasteful as this may sound, you do have to remember that you are no longer a kid who can just let the weekends “happen.” You have personal and professional responsibilities which are important. So, just as you should be doing during the week, you need to create a list of those things that you will do each day of the weekend.
On each list should be a balance between those things that are personal and those that are work-related. On Saturday, for example, you may decide that you will spend 4 hours on personal tasks – mowing the lawn, cleaning, laundry, going to the gym, taking the kids to the park. That still leaves 5-7 hours for work-related tasks, or personal growth, hobbies, sports and the opportunity to go out to dinner or to a movie on Saturday night. Sunday should be set up in a similar fashion.
Friday night is for “kicking back”
If you plan to spend a good portion of your Saturday and Sunday with work, and you really want to be productive, then you have to go into those two days rejuvenated. Friday night gives you that rejuvenation, so plan nothing work-related at all.
Do Not Sleep In
If you normally get up at 6:30 am during the week, then you must do so on the weekends too. (Well, maybe you can have an extra ½ hour). This keeps your “body clock” in sync and will allow you to be productive throughout the entire day, just as you are during the week. Too much sleep will make you groggy and hazy.
Notify Everyone Else in the House of Your Work Schedule
When you have scheduled work time, everyone needs to know it, and you need to get off by yourself for that scheduled time – either to an isolated room in your house or back to the office. You cannot focus on work if there are constant interruptions.
Prioritize Your Tasks
You may have a bunch of small “clean-up” tasks left over from the week. Get these out of the way first. Then, you can focus on the bigger tasks, projects, or ideas, without all of those little nagging items. Your to-do lists should have these prioritized before you ever begin. The problem with we humans is that we tend to take on the most attractive tasks first and leave the least pleasant for last, often not even getting to them. Force yourself to tackle the least pleasant first.
The working part of your weekend is no different from the work week. You must take breaks every hour or so, or your brain will get kind of mushy.
Every time a task on your list is completed, cross it off (that in itself is a great pleasure), and give yourself some kind of reward. Maybe it’s that candy bar sitting in the fridge; maybe it’s 15 minutes on Facebook. You know what pleases you!
Thinking Time is Work Time
Especially if you are an entrepreneur, taking time to think about the next idea for your business growth is productive time. Juha Koponen, founder of swap.com, was working as a physicist when his idea for what he calls “collaborative consumption” struck. The idea that people could access a site, send in their used items, and that technology would match those items with others who desired them was born from his concern for the earth’s sustainability. But, like any idea, he says, “you have to prioritize and pick the most promising ideas and then implement them…at the end of passions and perseverance are the qualities that prove their worth.” So, understand that thinking time is absolutely productive time – no matter what time it is. Even on Sunday!
Productivity will definitely improve if you do this. Turn off your phone and, if you have to use your computer for tasks, no cheating! You will accomplish far more without those interruptions and diversions than if you answer every call, text or email as it comes in. Each one takes your focus away from the task at hand, and accomplishing what you wish will just take longer.
Know Your Productive Periods of Day and Night
You know that every afternoon, after lunch, you have a “slow down.” Or, you know that you really don’t kick in with a strong tail wind until late morning. Maybe you’re the person whose highest rate of productivity is after 10:00 p.m. What’s great about the weekends, is that you can schedule your work during those times that you know you are the most productive and plan personal and/or leisure activities during other times. In some instances, weekends can actually be more productive than your weekdays.
Take a Weekend Off Occasionally
You may not be able to necessarily plan for these “non-work” weekends, for they may just come upon you. All of a sudden, on a Friday afternoon, you realize that all of those small “clean up” tasks are finished; progress toward a project is moving along ahead of schedule. You really can “kick back” for an entire weekend (or weekday).
Embrace it! Be leisurely and un-rushed. What many have discovered is that during these periods of time, when the mind is uncluttered, the greatest ideas are born.