Disclaimer: Before we even get started, let me just share one thing with you — this article isn’t about packing as much into your weekend as possible and working yourself to the bone. Nope.
Quite the contrary, the information you’re about to encounter is all about making the most out of your weekend and getting some “you time” that actually works for you.
Productivity is a much more all encompassing concept than we give it credit for. When we hear the word productivity, we most likely think work and then start imagining ourselves drowning in tasks and spreadsheets and nonsense.
That’s busyness, though. And busyness is not the same thing as productivity.
Being productive — quite simply — means being more efficient and effective. That’s it. It’s not about accomplishing the most tasks, it’s about accomplishing tasks in the best possible way.
When we’re productive we’re working efficiently. That includes giving ourselves a break and taking time to recalibrate ourselves when needed. Overworking ourselves causes fatigue, stress, short temper and more. It burns us out and makes life more difficult, and when we operate our weekends that way it can soon become hard to keep your head above water.
You can make your weekend productive and relaxing. Check out the list below and learn how to create some you time that allows you to get the most out of your time away from work.
The 12 Best Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Weekend
1. Do something fun on Sunday night.
Let’s just get the dreaded Sunday night out of the way now, shall we?
The Sunday Blues are real and they are never fun. Spice up your last few hours of freedom by doing something fun, rather than spending it trawling through emails or biting your nails in dread.
Do something that makes you look forward to Sunday night. It can be as simple as tuning into your favorite TV show, or as funky as getting down at a local karaoke night. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that makes you excited and keeps you engaged.
You can also take this time to reflect on the week gone by. Maybe things were rough this week and you had a hard time. Take a few minutes to consider what went wrong and how you could prevent it from happening again. Think about how things made you feel this week and also take a few seconds to appreciate the good things in your life that you’re grateful for.
All this will help you not only extend your weekend (who doesn’t want that?) but also go to bed with a calmer mindset and an idea of what’s ahead in the coming week.
2. Vary up the skills you use.
Whatever you spend your week doing for the old day job, use opposite skills on the weekend.
That means that if you spend that majority of your time sitting at a desk, then plan an active weekend full of projects you’ve been wanting to get around to or doing fun activities like hiking, cooking and skiing.
By changing the type of activities you do, you are actually helping to wire things in your brain. This keeps you interested and engaged and also helps you to make new connections and associations.
Think of it like writer’s block or musician’s block. When you get stuck in a rut on one thing, try moving on to another (completely) different thing. Using these types of varied skills will help you consider whatever “problems” you might be having in your professional life and help you get over whatever negative blocks you might have going on in regards to your work.
3. Don’t even try to do everything.
You might be tempted to pack as much into your weekend schedule as you can. Don’t!
If you’re waking up to a mile long list of to-do’s on Saturday, you’re setting yourself up for failure. By overburdening yourself, you’re creating unnecessary stress and pressure and making it harder for you to get anything done at all.
Prioritize the things in your life that need doing. Put the most important tasks at the top of your list and the least important at the bottom. Commit to getting no more than 3 of those tasks done on any given weekend and don’t be disappointed if you complete even fewer tasks.
Not sure how to prioritize your tasks? Use the impact vs. effort analysis.
Before beginning a task, decide how much time the task will take and what the immediate result will be. That figured out, rank the tasks on your to-do list by the amount of impact they result in and time they take. Tasks with an immediate impact and short to-do time should sit at the top of the lists, while the most complicated or involved tasks with more abstract results should sit at the bottom.
4. Make the most of your mornings.
I’m sure you’re sick of hearing it, but the early bird really does catch the worm.
You could read a million articles on being productive and I’m willing to bet you that 99% of them would tell you that waking up early helps you get more done.
It’s true. As long as you’re getting enough sleep (see below), getting up early can do a lot to impact your day. Morning are generally pretty slow, with fewer distractions and an easier pace. When you get out of bed as soon as possible, you can get your day started earlier, and with fewer distractions, can get more done.
Kick into gear first thing in the morning and you’ll see some immediate results. If you never give yourself a chance to laze around, odds are you’ll be more motivated to get out there and tackle those projects you’ve been too exhausted to do.
5. Take a break.
Even if you have a whole list of tasks that need to be done, make sure to give yourself time to take a break over the weekend.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do for our physical, mental and emotional health is take a break. Time off is good for your productivity and taking some time to do nothing can actually improve your performance overall.
Use your weekends to treat yourself or just get outside. If you spend a lot of time indoors during the week, this is the perfect time to get some fresh air. You can also meditate, exercise or just do nothing, opting for a night in with some Netflix and chill (a bottle of wine in hand…or two.)
6. Catch up on some much-needed sleep.
If you’re over the age of 18, chances are you know that Sleep Debt is a very real thing.
Not getting enough sleep has some major downsides. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase your chances of obesity, heart disease, stroke and even diabetes. It can impact your brain in some seriously nasty ways (including impacting memory) and it can drive you into downward spirals of depression, drug dependence and other negative patterns of behavior.
In a study conducted by the University of Chicago, a group of student volunteers actually tested the theory of sleep debt and recovery for 6+ days.
During the first six days of the experiment, the students received only 4 hours of sleep per night. In that time, those students experienced changes like high blood pressure to a reduction in antibodies leading to a lowered immune system. All of these effects, however, were reversed when the students were finally able to catch up on the missed sleep.
The weekends are a great time to catch up on your sleep debt if you’re in desperate need.
If you missed, for example, 10 hours of sleep during the week (assuming a normal night of sleep is 8 hours) then add three or four extra hours of sleep during the weekend and a few hours the following week to catch up on your sleep debt.
7. Perfect a skill you need for a career change.
If you’re looking to make a career change, then the weekends are a perfect time to perfect any new skills you might need to make that change.
Learning a new skill can help you dive deeper into an area of specialization that interests you. It might also be just the catalyst that you need to make a jump you’ve been thinking about for a long time.
The skills you pick up on the weekend are entirely dependent on what it is you want to do.
If you want to move up in the digital marketing world, then you might invest in some programming classes, to better help you understand the digital design sphere. You might also spend some time reading up on modern trends and what’s going on in the market you have your eye on.
There are all kinds of ways you can develop your personal and professional skills in your time away from the office and classes are just the start. If you really want to get serious about making a change, look into mentors and personnel developers who can help you take your career to the next level.
8. Get published.
This won’t apply to everyone, but if you’re working in the professional industry (or are seeking a career as a writer) then the weekend is a great time to focus on concreting your professional reputation.
You can become an industry expert by getting your knowledge shared on media outlets that specialize in authentic original articles on subjects that fit whatever your preferred niche is.
9. Give yourself a free day.
However you decide to plan your weekend, make sure you give yourself at least one completely obligation free day.
Weekends are ultimately the time for you to step away from the stress of work and focus on you and the things that are important to you. You need to spend time with your family, with yourself, and with the friends that add that extra sparkle to your life. These aren’t the things that boost your company’s profits, but they are the things that keep you going — so don’t neglect them.
You might find it hard to step away when there are emails pinging and phone calls trickling in, but it’s critical. Unplug. Turn off that computer. Switch off that iPhone. But your professional persona on silent for a while.
Make one of your 2 days off an officially obligation free day. Don’t make any plans. Don’t answer any emails. Spend this day doing only what you want with who you want.
Having a no-guilt day that is free of chores and errands and work makes it easier for you to enjoy yourself and just breathe. It also makes the next day easier, as you an approach your tasks with a renewed and refreshed energy and spirit.
10. All work is time-limited.
I get it. I open up my work computer on the weekends and I often find myself tapping away on articles and emails before I know it.
If you’re going to work on the weekend, that’s okay. Just make sure it’s time limited.
Reserve blocks of time to get tasks done and be strict about the time allotted to tasks. This will make it easier for you to focus and easier for you to prioritize, leaving you with more time to enjoy yourself in the long run.
Set mini-deadlines for yourself and let them act as mini-timers for the other tasks that you need to get done. It’s important to limit the work you do at home and it’s especially important to limit the amount of weekend your work tasks eat up.
It’s easy to let your work life bleed into your personal life, but it can be toxic. Maintaining that boundary is important if you want to maintain your sanity and your overall wellness and happiness.
If you don’t manage to get as much done as you want inside you allotted timeframes, don’t despair. Instead, accept it and move on. Mistakes happen, but time limits are there for a reason. Let your private life breathe and put the work life on the shelf for the weekend.
You may not want to hear it, but organizing and decluttering your living and work spaces can be a great way to cultivate more efficient and productive weekends.
Go through all those things in your home that you haven’t’ touched for months (or even years.) Get rid of the things you have no use for, the things that are piling up and stressing you out. Give them to charity or find a family member that has the room and space to take in your much-loved junk.
So many of us have too much stuff. Use your weekend spending time to get rid of it, so that you can create a space you want to spend time in at the end of the week. Decluttering spaces will make you feel better and give you a sense of being able to breathe. Going to sleep in a clean house at the end of a long weekend does wonders for your self-esteem as well, and can help you relax and get a great full night’s sleep.
Volunteering may not come to mind when you’re thinking of planning a productive weekend, but it’s one of the best ways to focus your mind on important things outside of work like health, poverty, conservation and climate change.
Serving others has a way of making us take a good long look at ourselves. When we help others we help ourselves and come to see our humanity in way that is hard to when we’re beat down by the dogma of the modern system.
When you serve others you gain priceless benefits like a sense of accomplishment, pride, satisfaction. You makes connections with other people and strengthen communities, just by taking part in something that’s a little outside yourself.
Improving the lives of other people helps put things into perspective. It can make your problems seem smaller and your life seem much better than you once thought. Helping those less fortunate is actually helping you, and research shows that volunteering can actually encourage physical health.
Weekends are the perfect time to spend some time giving to others. You can get involved in local and community volunteer events, or you can reach out to local organizations like animal shelters, youth centers and even local libraries. Hospitals, homeless shelters and women’s shelters also accept volunteers, and often provide training for those looking to make an even greater impact on their communities.
You can find lots of great causes in your area by visiting sites like VolunteerMatch.org, which has a wide variety of causes that you can support all over the world.
Putting it all together…
Don’t let your weekend culminate to a waste of time. Get the most out of your weekend by creating time off that fits your needs.
Catch up on sleep or just enjoy time with a good book. Help others through volunteer programs or just reach out to friends and family that get forgotten in the hustle of your day-to-day flow. Clean up that cluttered garage or just spend some time soaking up the sun. Whatever you do, make sure you’re creating a weekend schedule that allows you to get the most out of you.
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