Working 40+ hours every week, may get you caught up in the whirlwind of life to the point where you forget to truly treasure your weekends. Remember that these are 2 sacred days, so you should dedicate them to doing the things you love, to pursuing your passions, your personal development and your own projects. A wise saying goes: in your free time, you either accomplish yourself or you lose yourself. So, make the most of your free time, as this passes quickly, and if you don’t make the most of it, it leaves you feeling unhappy, barren and resenting the upcoming work week.
Treat weekends like a 2-day holiday. Here are my top 10 strategies to enable me to not only look forward to my weekend, but also enjoy it fully once it’s here:
1. Do the things you love
Do not feel tempted to use your weekend to catch up on the work that didn’t get done during the week. I fell under this trap many times and once work was over, I felt depleted of my precious resource – free time.
As I mentioned above, weekends are sacred times, so respect them as you would observe a religious holiday. Don’t sacrifice them. Give yourself the luxury of doing the things you mostly love and enjoy, without feeling guilty and thinking of work.
If you left important work unfinished, learn from it and prioritise better next time. But do not punish yourself by stressing over it or trying to do it over the weekend. You will not work as productively as during your normal working hours, so you will end up wasting time. When the weekend is over, this will only leave you feeling unhappy, barren and resenting the upcoming work week. Educate yourself to think that work can wait until a new week starts. Over time, this will have the added benefit of making you be more efficient during your allocated work time.
Time best spent at the weekend is the time doing the things that help you become the best version of yourself. In this way, you will start a new week satisfied that you spent your free time in a way that brought you the most joy. This will fuel your enthusiasm and motivation for conquering the work week that lies ahead.
2. Make a list of all the things you want to do at the weekend
This will not only make you look forward to your weekend, but will also keep you focused and help you plan how to enjoy or achieve them. However, make sure this list is realistic and manageable. You may be tempted to add too many things to your list, thinking that you will have plenty of time to do them all. But, remember there are only 48 hours. If you aim to do and enjoy too many things, but don’t accomplish them, you may feel disappointed when time is up. Instead, focus on the most important 3 key things you would like to accomplish or enjoy at the weekend and once you do them, you can plan the rest.
3. Get the household chores done during the working week
Start your weekend free of household chores. If left until the weekend, these can only impoverish you mentally or distract you from enjoying your free time. Give yourself the luxury of a true 2-day holiday.
You are more productive, focused and in a “working mode” during the week, so it’s a lot easier to get yourself to do the household chores then. When you’ve got solid work ahead of you (i.e. your day job), a bit extra work on the side (cleaning the house, doing the laundry, or grocery shopping etc.) will seem marginal and even welcome as a mental break from your professional work.
I find that doing household chores (like laundry, washing up dishes or house-cleaning) first thing in the morning is a good way to start the work-day, as it prepares my mind for the professional work that I need to tackle. Besides, during the work week, I find that morning time is not quality time anyway, as we are mainly expected to use it to get ready for and get to work. For me, even though it is technically my ‘free’ time, it does quite feel that it belongs to me as much as the time in the evenings or weekends does.
So why not defy this redundant time by using it to get the unpleasant household chores done and dusted? Especially if you are a morning person, take advantage of this trait and put your morning time to the best possible use to prepare yourself for a relaxing weekend ahead. I normally clean the house on Thursday and (if needed) Friday mornings before work. I know it may sound a bit extreme to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to do this, but it makes me feel so content when I then get to the office and sit down at my desk knowing that the mos unpleasant chores have been dealt with and I can just look forward to the weekend. Not to mention, that most chores (cleaning, in particular) involve a considerable amount of physical activity, so they’re great for substituting the morning workout. Win-win!
4. Structure your day and keep track of time
Weekends are the only times you have to do the things that your heart and mind have been yearning to do during the week. You’ve earned this time for yourself, but as it’s limited, you need to use it wisely.
We tend to lose track of time in the days when we feel free from any commitments and time passes a lot quicker when we spend it in the way we want to. However, this means that we soon get to the end of the day wondering where the time went. That’s why I think it’s important to maintain the strategy of scheduling, allocating time to each activity you want to do at the weekend and keeping a time log. This will enable you to plan your day well and hopefully enjoy everything you’ve dreamed of doing during the week. If you have other commitments at the weekend (i.e. meet up with friends and family), remember to still allocate as much time as you can to yourself. Cherish this free time as the only treasure you’ve got to enrich yourself.
5. Do something different every hour or combine activities
If you have piled up many things that you’d like to do at the weekend, more than you’d have the time for, then the best way to enjoy each and every one of them, is to do a different activity every hour. This will make you feel more vigilant, as you monitor your time regularly and therefore will use it efficiently. Also, it will make you want to maximise each hour, without wasting any precious moment.
The novelty of doing something different each hour will lead you to give maximum interest to each activity, as you know its time will soon be over. In this way, boredom or sluggishness won’t have time to settle in. Nonetheless, you must start this practice by accepting that you might not finish any of the things you start doing. Many interesting things take a lot longer than an hour, so you can only “sample”, rather than “devour” the things you’ve set your mind on. This strategy mainly works if you are a hyperactive type that likes to jump from one activity to another in order to maintain momentum and avoid sinking into boredom.
Another way to cram all the activities you’ve set your heart and mind on doing is the strategy of combining them. For example, knitting while catching up on your favourite TV series, cooking while listening to a foreign radio (to learn a new language), reading while enjoying a hot bath, writing while listening to music and so on. There are many ways to make the most of your free time, you just need to get creative about it.
6. Play and experiment
Weekends are also the times to reinvent yourself, to discover new things you enjoy or are good at doing. Don’t cage your mind and body into the routine of doing the same thing every weekend. Surely, you’ve had enough routine during the work week. So challenge yourself to do something different. Let your mind and soul experience fully the richness of life.
Experiment goes hand in hand with experience, the more you experiment, the more you experience. Experimenting can be quite powerful, as it may end up shaping you into your better self and transform your life in this way. For example, my passion for knitting or even this blog came about out of acts of experimenting, when I said to myself: “What would happen if?…” or “Let’s see if I could do this”.
There are so many things you could experiment with, ranging from the most simple to the most complicated. Think cooking something you haven’t tried before, learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument, making an object out of redundant bits & pieces (upscaling), taking up a new sport, starting a blog or a novel, visiting a new place, or taking up any hobby that you don’t think you’d be good at.
If you are looking for more inspiration in terms of experiments you could try, then “My Experimental Life” by A J Jacobs might give you a few ideas. Regardless of what you choose to do, the most important thing is that you experiment with doing something new. This will help you acquire new skills and grow into the best version of yourself.
Deep down, we are all artist and creators. So unleash your creative self, nurture your spirit and play. Be in search of greatness, let yourself be inspired and dare to try out something new. There is no time like the weekend to do so.
7. Stay active, exercise
I appreciate that working out at the weekend is one of the last things you’d want to spend your leisure time doing. We tend to associate workouts with hard labour, self-discipline, and, therefore, week days. However, the only way you will truly manage to enjoy your weekends is if you continue to work your body and keep it in an active state. Otherwise, if you spend a full day collapsed on the sofa, you will succumb into a state of sluggishness which will deplete you of energy, deterring you from undertaking the things you planned on doing.
So, start each day of your weekend with 30 minutes of vigorous exercises. After all, 30 minutes of physical exercise is nothing in the grand scheme of 24 free, blissful hours. Moreover, these 30 intense minutes will help you wake up quickly, will energise you to enjoy the day ahead of you, will make you feel good about yourself and will even “earn” you those delightful hours on the sofa.
8. Go outside
On rainy or cold days, we might feel tempted to spend our entire weekends in the comfort of our homes. I, for one, am one of these people, as I truly enjoy keeping warm and spending time at home indulging in the activities I mostly enjoy (playing the piano, knitting, reading, writing, surfing the internet), which can mostly be done at home.
However, by not going out in nature we deplete our bodies of fresh air and oxygen that they so need to function properly. Going out in nature is, according to Gretchen Rubin, one of the secrets of adulthood. So, be an adult and go outside, even when you don’t feel like it. As paradoxical as it may sound, going outside is vital for acquiring the vitality you need to spend most of the day indoors. It will refresh you, give you energy and good cheer. The best thing to do is to combine your morning exercise with going outside (for example by going for a run or bike ride around your house). Another win-win.
9. Eat healthily
At weekend, you may be tempted to indulge in copious amounts of food. While this will feel good momentarily, it may make you feeling sluggish and tired afterwards, therefore unable to enjoy your days of freedom. Of course, you should treat and reward yourself for having worked hard the whole week, but be mindful that what might start like a nice treat, might end up in a binge which your disciplined-self will regret later. This sense of self-guilt might set you back from your good cheer for a longer time than the momentary self-gratification. Always weigh in the long-term vs. the short term and let the former win. So, treat yourself wisely.
If you continue to be good to yourself and eat healthily at the weekend, you won’t have to work extra hard on Mondays to get yourself back on track. In this way, Mondays won’t seem as tough and so transitioning from the blissful weekend to the demanding work week will be easier. Furthermore, eating healthily and in decent quantities will give you lots of energy and good cheer to make the most of your “2-day holiday”.
10. Sleep well
Sleep is so important for helping your body recover from the demanding 5 days of work, so don’t feel tempted to underestimate it. Staying up late at the weekend or partying all night may be appealing at the beginning, but if you do so, you won’t be able to enjoy the next day to the fullest. The last thing you want at the weekend is to be bed-ridden, nursing a hangover from the night before or feeling tired and exhausted. So, try as much as possible to maintain the sleeping habits that you build up during your work week.
Have a gloriously good weekend! Looking forward to reading your comments about how you make the most of your weekend.