By Joan Moran
I was at dinner the other night with a very busy and creative woman. She did most of the talking. Her monologue illustrated how important and busy she was during the week and how much she accomplishes. I watched her mouth move at a rapid rate. She had the most perfect set of teeth. Years of braces, I thought.
Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2012) and What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend (Portfolio, 2012), discusses how successful people know that weekends are the secret weapon to professional success. “You need to hit Monday ready to go,” she writes. “To do that, you need weekends that rejuvenate you, rather than exhaust or disappoint you. Cross-training makes you a better athlete, and likewise, exercise, volunteer work, spiritual activities, and hands-on parenting make you a better worker than if you just worked all the time.”
Wise words, but can you do it? Can you get away from thinking about work or are your weekends a time to unplug from the day-to-day and think more deeply about you company or your job so that even when you’re technically not working, you’re always processing work in the background. That mindset translates into “Weekends are a great chance to reflect and be more introspective about bigger issues.”
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If you are thinking about work on the weekends, you are still at work! You haven’t entered the rarified environment of the present where all the great decisions are made, and you will intuitively know what the first thing you will do Monday morning.
I thought it was interesting that although my dinner companion was terribly busy, she found time at least once a day to do what she loves most: swim for 3 miles a day. Maybe that’s more time than you’d like to spend on downtime during the week, but this is what she does on weekends: work on her new house, garden, read, take a nap, walk, watch a little television, and go to a movie Not once did she refer to doing any work on the weekend. She hacked into her brain on Sunday night to check in to Monday’s work.
Penelope Trunk, a career coach and author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, adds: “A highly successful person is very focused on what they want to be doing. The weekend and the week don’t look similar.”
Here are 5 ways you can use your weekend to prepare yourself for a productive week ahead:
Eliminate Endless Distractions on the Weekends
Our society is in overload from endless distractions, specifically from technology. It’s possible to disconnect, says Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. “The single greatest enemy of creativity is overload,” he says. “…creativity requires a relaxed acuity, which is rendered impossible by checking email every half hour.” The electronic addiction distracts you from spending time with yourself, being with your family, and doing activities that make you happy. Take yourself away from your electronic world, take a tech time out and watch your mind open up to new connections and experiences with self and family.
Learn Something New on the Weekends
You’ve undoubtedly had the awesome sensation and incredible satisfaction after learning something new. Wow! I can actually play a game of bridge! Or I know how to lift weights properly! Or I’m able to write music on my guitar! Or I just learned all about how the United States government was formed. The pleasure of learning something new is wildly rewarding. And, if you share your knowledge, it’s twice rewarding. The website Lifehack suggested: “There are a lot of good, practical reasons to make learning something new a part of your daily routine, but the best reason has nothing to do with practicality — we are learning creatures, and the lifelong practice of learning is what makes us humans and our lives worthwhile.”
Exercise on the Weekends
You have no excuses on the weekends to avoid exercise. You are not working, writing, or doing Excel charts. No one owns you on the weekends. What’s your favorite activity: running, walking, yoga, softball, soccer, pick up basketball? You name it and you can do it. Turn off the TV, the computer, and the phone and experience the joys of pumping up your adrenalin, moving your muscles and stretching your body. Stay healthy on the weekends; stay healthy during the week. AHAAH – YOU’VE DONE IT, NO QUESTIONS, JUST KNOWLEDGE.
Pursue Your Passion on the Weekends
Margaret Mead wrote: “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and then go and do that because what the world needs are people who come alive.” What makes you come alive? My mother gave me the best definition of passion: an outpouring of positive energy for the interests and idea that makes a difference in your life. If you can’t get something out of your mind, if you feel blissful about a person, place or thing and it won’t go away, you have passion. When you are happy and excited, you are receiving personal rewards for what you love to do. Maybe you like woodworking, dancing, listening to music, cooking, fishing, camping, puttering in the garage – it doesn’t matter what you love doing, just do it on the weekends and start nurturing your passion.
Volunteer on the Weekends
I suddenly sat up super straight when a friend of mine told me he had to leave immediately from our Saturday coffee date: “I’ve got to get across town to deliver ‘Meals on Wheels.” I was pleased to know that volunteering was a part of his life. Volunteering is a weekend activity for my friend and he wouldn’t miss it. Time spent helping others is time spent in the positive and grateful zone. There are numerous benefits that you receive from volunteering: increased social and relationship skills, increased gratitude, compassion, joy, self-confidence and positive feelings. Volunteering brings you into the yes zone and removes negative impulses.
Absenting yourself from the work environment on the weekends and creating nurturing intentions is a way to keep your energy balanced and feed your soul. It’s a way to make happiness a priority. Keep weekends sacred for you, your family, your friends and your community. Your life will absolutely change for the better.
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