If you are looking for tips to improve your productivity on weekends - you've come to the right place.
If you are looking for ways to squeeze in more work into your weekend - you're at the wrong place.
Seems contrary? Let me explain.
We are redefining ‘weekend productivity’- we are all about how to use your weekends to improve your productivity during the week.
We are taking the advice of Laura Vanderkam, making the weekends into “Sort-Your-Life-Out Sunday.
”According to American Time Use Survey we are spending major part of our weekends watching television and playing games on computer. Not exactly the ideal way of relaxing one would say.
30% Americans, irrespective of whether they are holding a single job or multiple jobs are working on weekends.
Instead of using the weekends to recharge we are further tiring ourselves so our Saturday is no different than our Monday.
Ideally more hours invested in work should mean more success. But in reality we are just winning the battle to lose the war.
Successful people know that weekends are actually the secret weapon in professional success
Weekends are not mindless breaks. They are pauses for reflection and reorganisation.
Until you learn this crucial skill of pacing yourself, you will be vulnerable to burn outs and loss of momentum along the way.
Here are 5 ideas that will get you started on the road of having a ‘productive weekend’ which can add up to a productive week.
1. Pursue hobbies that put different demands on your brain
Weekends are a great opportunity to pursue hobbies that use skills and abilities that we don't usually engage at work.
Engaging in a different kind of labour will help you recover from the stresses of your everyday job. This will in turn boost your productivity at work.
Psychologist Kevin Eschleman has found that, hobbies we engage in over the weekend can impact our productivity during the workweek.
He also explains, "Whatever activity you're doing in your free time should not be taxing you or demanding you in the same way as your job"
Most successful people have at least one hobby which you wouldn't usually associate with their field of expertise.
Meryl Streep enjoys knitting, Taylor Swift bakes, Richard Branson plays chess, Simon Cowell tries tree climbing, Warren Buffett plays ukulele, Bill Gates plays Bridge ... you get the drift.
Many of us don't keep up with the hobbies simply because we don't choose the right hobbies.
The right hobby is not the one you are necessarily good at. It is the one that helps you balance between your need of creativity and structure.
It means, if your job involves higher degree of structure and regulation, pursuing hobbies that provide a creative outlet (eg arts, crafts, music) will be beneficial to you.On the other hand if you are already working in a highly creative job, non-creative hobbies (eg volunteering, sports) will help you with productivity.
One major folly to avoid while choosing hobbies is picking the ones that demand huge financial investments (eg collecting art, sailing). Hobbies should be relatable to your lifestyle and resources.
Another important point is to remove the emphasis on performance, because this will again create another stressor. Instead focus on just enjoying the process and accepting the outcome.
Stress, off days, bad days are a part of even the job you love intensely. Having a creative hobby that helps your body and mind relax can help you manage them better.
2. Get some quality Z..Z..Z… and clear the sleep debt
Your sleep is the first thing that gets sacrificed when you need to expand the time available for work or play.
Thanks to the technology boom, we are hooked to our devices and taking our work into our homes and into our beds.
This might make you feel very efficient and give you the satisfaction of work done. But a couple of hours gained today will come back to bite you in the ass tomorrow.
Reducing your sleep for just 1.5 hours one night reduces your daytime alertness by 32%.
Consequences of sleep deprivation are not just mental but also physical.
Sleep debt can make you irritable, cause mood swings, increase the risk of depression and reduce concentration levels.
Sleep deficiency has been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes, and cancer.
The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late.
Instead of using your weekends to cram in more work, use them to clear the sleep debt.
The ill-effects of chronic sleep loss are hard to reverse. So use your weekends to chip away at the sleep debt accumulated during the week.
Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein, medical director of Harvard Sleep Health Centre, gives the following suggestion - “If you missed 10 hours of sleep over the course of a week, add three to four extra sleep hours on the weekend and an extra hour or two per night the following week until you have repaid the debt fully.”
An important step towards quality sleep is to avoid working on your tablets and smartphones in bed.
Prof Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School conducted a study on the disruptive effect of LED emitting devices on our body clocks. He discovered that those who read electronic books before they went to bed took longer to get to sleep, had reduced levels of melatonin and were less alert in the morning.
Why not try meditation?
In the highly cited Rutguers University study, meditation was effectively proven to boost melatonin levels by an average of 98%, which helps to reach a far deeper, more efficient level of sleep.
Additionally, meditation causes a 50% drop in stress inducing cortisol, which can also improve your quality of sleep.
Sleeping off a couple hours during the weekend will not clear your sleep debt. But it is a good first step towards damage control.
3. Declutter - clear the physical and mental debris interfering with your productivity
Cos we are living in a material world
We are living in the age of unprecedented level of material possessions.
UCLA's ‘Anthropological study into the contemporary home’’ has come out with the shocking fact that 75% of families have so much stuff in their garage that there is no room left for their cars!
Mess equals stress.
The Princeton University Study has found that physical clutter overloads your senses, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress. On the other hand, when you enter an uncluttered space, it sharpens the mind and increases your ability to concentrate and focus.
Why not declutter your home this weekend to make your week stress free and productive?
The key to decluttering is starting small. Here are simple steps to help you clear the physical mess -
- Start by organising just one thing in the room or just one folder on your laptop.
- Separate them into piles of ‘keep’, ‘sell’, ‘donate’ and ‘get rid of’.
- Organise the ‘keep’ pile into specific spaces. Dump the get rid of items. Schedule pickups for items you want to donate.
What about the mental clutter that overtakes our minds and blurs our vision?
The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don't
Identifying and getting rid of mental clutter is even more crucial.
Mental clutter takes many forms - it could be a toxic relationship, worry about future, regrets, anger, unprocessed emotions or it could just be a matter of misplaced priorities.
These unproductive emotions can clog your brain and deplete your mental resources.
Weekends away from the usual stresses are an ideal opportunity perform a mental detox and resolve emotional debris.
- Do a ‘Brain Dump’ - Get everything that is hogging your brain onto the paper. This will help you identify your issues and prioritise the solutions.
- Sort the list - categorise the issues you have listed. Some of them could be solved by you. Some of them may need help from a friend/colleague, some issues may need further enquiry, some issues you may need to let go etc. This will help you develop a better action plan.
- Schedule the clearance - whatever you can take care of, schedule it over the week whenever you can carve time. Whatever can be delegated - delegate it. If you cannot completely get rid of it (eg toxic colleague) think what you can do to minimise exposure.
- Reflect - ‘Those who do not learn by history are bound to repeat it’. Reflect upon the accumulation of mental debris. Try to formulate a pre-emptive response and earlier point of intervention.
4. Get out with your friends and use nature to recharge yourself
Don’t make the weekend activity into another job.
Save the gym routine for the week. On weekends focus on enjoyment over efficiency.
Try out new activities. You may not exactly be great at them. But it's OK. Just enjoy the moment.
Incorporate ‘green exercise’ into your weekend and make it a point to explore the great outdoors.
According to 'The Great Outdoors' study published in Journal of Physiology and medicine, physical activity in natural environment can result in stress reduction, restoring mental fatigue, and improving mood and self-esteem and perceived health.
After spending a week in the concrete jungle under artificial lights, time out in nature can be a welcome relief.
Exercising outdoors is associated with increased energy and positive engagement, together with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression.
This will in turn revitalise you and you can get back to work with a fresher and stress free frame of mind.
The best part is you don’t have to spend a zillion hours to feel this way. These benefits start within 5 minutes of starting an outdoor activity.
Mix moving with socialising
This weekend try a different kind of social networking!
Enjoy the benefits of socialising along with physical activity by doing it with your friends. Go for a hike, camping or biking or just take a leisurely stroll.
A social comparison study published in Journal of Social Sciences found that exercising with a partner was better than exercising alone.
Those doing physical activity were happier, and enjoyed the physical activity more, when they were with their spouse, friends or co-workers, compared with when they were alone.
5. Invest in your personal life - ditch the tech for quality family time.
Work-life efficiency is crucial for productivity and happiness.
The Corporate Executive Board survey found that it comes only second to compensation when it comes to workplace qualities.
When you are caught up in the hamster wheel of work, personal relationships get relegated to lower rung of importance.
Why not use weekends to make up for the lost time and invest in building deep and meaningful relationships?
The American Time Use Survey has found that on weekends, we spend just 1 hour socialising/communicating v/s 3+ hours spent watching TV. We spend another 25 minutes playing games using computer.
Even when we are physically present, we are dealing with constant distraction.
According to Pew Internet Survey, 42% of cell-owning 18-29 year olds say their partner has been distracted by their mobile phone while they were together (25% of all couples say this).
Replace FOMO with JOMO
We are often glued to our smartphones or constantly checking on work due to Fear Of Missing Out. This keeps us distracted both on and off work.
There is nowhere I’d rather be than where I am right now
Author Christina Cook suggests we replace it with JOMO - Joy Of Missing Out. JOMO in its essence is about refusing the distractions and being mindful in the present.
This weekend ditch your smartphone and try building intentional connections with your family and friends. Gift them with your presence and attention. Create memories and family traditions.
It is equally important to spend time building stronger social ties and getting involved with the community.
Author Tom Corley has found that 73% of wealthy people volunteer for 5 or more hours per month. Now compare it to the fact that, only 15% of us spend any time volunteering in religious or charitable activities.
Your legacy is not only about what you achieve at work but what kind of a parent/spouse you were.
Investing your weekends towards your personal life will ensure that you don't end up with a job you love but a life that you hate.
Success is a 24×7 choice - weekends are not an exception.
You could burn your candle at both ends working 7 days a week. Or you could be smart about how you spend your time and play the long game.
Work and play are both crucial ingredients of success.
Taking time off from work and concentrating on your personal life can be the way for you to break the monotony of work and recharge yourself.
Use your downtime to de-stress from the workweek. Restore your energy, avoid mental fatigue and create better connections with your family and community.
Don’t burn yourself out being a weekend worker bee - become the weekend Buddha.