As much as many of us want to rest during the weekend, there is no coating the fact that there are some of us who have lots of work to do, even during the weekend. So, if you are one of us the ‘cool kids’ who get to work during the weekend, here are tips to help you remain productive through this work weekend.
- Use different skills than you use during the week.
You probably spend the majority of your work week sitting at your desk or in conference rooms, slogging away at your day-to-day tasks. That’s why changing the types of activities you do on weekends can play a big role in both your level of happiness and productivity. By changing the types of activities you’re doing, you can actually change the neurons firing inside your head. Using different neurons makes it easier for you to make different types of connections and associations. Your weekends need to feel different from your weekdays. Making time for hobbies and non-work activities can foster creativity, relieve stress, and make you a happier, more successful person.
- Don’t try to do it all.
If you have a number of things planned in your to-do list, the key is to prioritize so you get the most important things done, not all the things done. That way, you allow yourself the time to do them well. For example, if you wake up on a Saturday and find your inbox is overflowing but you were hoping to bang out a blog post before lunch, run a quick impact vs. effort analysis in your head. You might realize that getting through 30+ emails takes a significant amount of effort, but actually has little impact on your success. Writing that blog post, on the other hand, requires more effort, but it carries a much higher impact.
- Kick into gear first thing in the morning.
“The early bird catches the worm” is not a common phrase for nothing. Practically every article out there on productivity says waking up early can help you get more done – provided you went to bed at a reasonable hour the night before. If not, it may be better to catch up on sleep. (See #6.) Either way, when you do get up, try to get up and out of bed as soon as you can. Mornings tend to be slower and lend fewer distractions, making it easier for you to get things done more quickly. If you kick yourself into gear first thing in the morning, you don’t give yourself a chance to laze around – and you’ll put yourself in the mindset to get things done.
- Give your mind a break.
Alternatively, if you don’t have anything specific if you need to get done, sometimes the best thing you can do for your future productivity is to give your mind a break. After all, time off is good for your productivity and performance at work. Personally, I like to use weekends to get outside and get some fresh air. Being in an office five days a week leaves me drained by Friday. Taking the time to do an outside activity, even if it’s just taking a walk around my neighbourhood, helps me recharge and gives my mind a break.
- Catch up on sleep.
The downsides of inadequate sleep aren’t just that you’re tired all the time – it raises the risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. And in the short-term, lack of sleep can have significant effects on the hippocampus – an area of the brain involved in memory creation and consolidation. The good news is, if you find yourself getting fewer than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, you can make up that debt on weekends. So if you missed, say, ten hours of sleep over the course of a week, then add three or four extra sleep hours on the weekend, and an extra one to two hours to nights the following week — until you’ve repaid all 10 of those hours. Don’t make this a habit, though. Try to factor those seven to eight hours of sleep per night into your daily schedule as much as you can.
- Hone a skill for the job you want.
While you should use your workweek to nail the job you have, if you’re gunning for a promotion – or another job altogether – then why not use some of your weekend time learning the skills of the job you want? Learning a new skill or diving deeper into an area of specialization that’s growing might be just the ammunition you need to land that coveted position.
- Write a guest post for a publication.
Most media outlets allow people to submit authentic, original articles on topics that are relevant to their readership. Each one has different requirements and submission instructions, though. While some require you to submit full articles, others accept topic pitches and are willing to work with you on an outline. If you want to write more regularly, consider creating a personal blog.
- Pick at least one obligation-free day.
Weekends are for stepping away from the daily grind, spending time with friends and family, doing things that make you smile, and generally keeping your work-life balance in check. These things may not necessarily boost your company’s profits by 200% or make you CEO next week, but that doesn’t make them any less important. But some of us find it hard to step away from all those obligations – work-related or not – for the entire two-day period. If this sounds like you, then try to choose at least one of the two days to remain totally obligation-free. Sundays are my no-guilt, 100% work-free day. I don’t do any errands, chores, or open my work computer – I save that for Monday to Saturday. Giving myself one day a week to do exactly what I want with no guilt makes it that much easier to tackle my chores and errands the next day.
- If you choose to work, set a time limit.
I find it harder to work efficiently on the weekends, simply because it feels like I have so much more time. But time can fly, and all of a sudden it’s 5:00 p.m. and I just spent the last several hours in limbo between getting work done and procrastinating hardcore. When you literally reserve blocks of time to get specific tasks done, it can be much easier to focus and get your work done quicker – leaving you with more time to actually enjoy your weekend. It is important to set a limit on work when you’re at home. If you work from home full-time (or on a regular basis), it’s really easy to let your work life bleed into your personal life. Maintaining a boundary is important for both halves of the equation. Didn’t get as much done as you wanted to in your designated block of time? Forgive yourself, and then move on. The more you set these hard time limits for yourself, the more efficient you’ll get during your designated work time.
- Declutter your living spaces.
Decluttering your living spaces will make you feel a lot better – especially if you can give some of those items to charity, or sell them. Donating is the easiest way to get rid of things without throwing it away.
Serving others has a long list of intangible benefits, like pride, satisfaction, accomplishment, connections with others, strengthening your community, and improving the lives of others. Nothing helps put things into perspective – and make your problems seem a little smaller – than helping those less fortunate. Plus, along with social benefits, research shows that there’s a strong relationship between volunteering and physical health, too. Weekends are a great time to get involved in local and community volunteer events. If you don’t have a specific cause in mind, the internet is a great resource to see if there are organisations in need of volunteers.
- Do something fun on Sunday night.
Sunday night blues are never fun. Instead of using those last few golden weekend hours to check through all your boring work emails, do something you’ll actually look forward to. For me, it’s going on a pizza date with my sister. For you, it might be reading a book, taking a run with your dog, meditating, or cooking a nice meal. Another idea is to take the time to reflect on the week gone by. Reflection is something you should be doing daily, but weekends are a great time to step back and think about what made you smile, what you’re grateful for, what you’ve accomplished, and how to make the next week even better. This extends the weekend and keeps you focused on the fun to come, rather than on Monday morning. That way, you’ll go to bed with a calmer mindset, unperturbed by all the stuff you have to do the next day.