Do those prized hours between Friday night drinks and the dreaded Monday morning seem to be getting shorter? Are they taken up by cleaning, life admin, kids’ parties or other obligations?
If you’re going back to work feeling even more worn out than you did when you left on Friday, then it might be time to re-evaluate how you spend your weekend.
We speak with Emma Grey, co-author of I don’t have time: 15-minute ways to shape a life you love, to discuss her tips for making the most of your weekend and setting yourself up for a successful week.
“If you find you’re going back to work for a break every Monday, perhaps something needs to change,” Emma says. “It’s important to find time to switch off from the constant connection, expectation and pressure of work. Having a real break lowers our stress and boosts our creativity and ability to solve problems.”
Emma says to make the most of the weekend, it’s important to make a plan and stick to the principles of effective time management:
If you don’t take these steps, you may run the risk of letting other activities and other people’s priorities crowd out your own – including your downtime.
“Have one ‘non-negotiable’ weekend activity just for you and commit to it,” Emma says. “It could become the most important hour you spend in a week.”
If you spend an hour on the weekend planning your work week then it is less likely you’ll be exhausted by the time Friday arrives. Even one hour spent prioritising your calendar, sending some emails and writing up a to-do list will help set you up for a productive and less-stressful week.
The same rule applies to housework and life admin tasks. You could spend an hour on Sunday preparing your dinner plans for the week, ensuring all bills are paid and getting the house tidy before the week kicks off. Tackling these ad hoc tasks all in one sitting will reduce your seemingly overwhelming mountain of tasks and help keep you focused through the week.
“Cleaning the house could take all weekend if we let it,” says Emma. “If you’re working hard during the week, think what your time is worth by the hour and consider hiring a cleaner once a fortnight to free your weekend time.”
It’s also important to make sure that those around you are pulling their weight: “If you have a family, discourage ‘learned helplessness’ by letting go of the idea that ‘nobody does this as well as I do’,” Emma says. “Everyone should pull their weight to keep a home running.”
Let’s face it, there’s only so much you can do in a weekend. It’s important to prioritise the things that are important to you.
It’s okay to decline invitations to things that don’t really inspire you – don’t commit to things because of the fear of missing out. “Say ‘no’ to give meaning to your ‘yes’. If your ‘yes’ is connecting with people you love the most, say no to unnecessary rushing around,” says Emma. “Stop committing to things that drag you down, and do more of what lights you up.”
Fresh air and exercise can kick start your weekend and energise you for the work week to come.
Health experts tell us that we should be aiming for 10,000 steps a day. The modern lifestyle makes this daily target pretty difficult to achieve, especially when you’re bound to a desk for long chunks of your day.
This is where the weekend offers the perfect opportunity to up your step count and reach your weekly exercise quota. Take the time to enjoy a cup of herbal tea and go for a long walk or a run and you may end up feeling healthier and happier come Monday.
You could love your job, but sometimes the prospect of getting up early on a Monday morning will spoil the last few hours of your weekend. Combat this by planning something fun to look forward to on Sunday night. This will not only distract you, but help make the weekend feel longer as you anticipate the fun to come.
Try getting out of the house and doing something new. “Having a change of scenery, whether that’s a coffee in a new cafe, a long drive or a mini-break in another city or somewhere secluded is important,” says Emma. “Stop saying to your friends, ‘we must catch up more often’. Get out your diaries and book something in or it will never happen.”
Weekend time is precious, but we can make it stretch with good time management, a little imagination and an action plan. Be honest with yourself about what really matters – and what doesn’t – and you can emerge from your weekend feeling refreshed, fulfilled and ready to dominate your work week.