Weekends go by quickly, but they’re almost a third of your week! Making the most of those days takes effort, and some planning can add up to a much more restorative break from your routine. If by Sunday night you’re wondering where the weekend went, start structuring the weekend more efficiently.
1. Make the Most of Your Mornings
An extra cup of coffee, sleeping in, or another 20 minutes of scrolling the ‘gram from bed are easy starts to the day. But don’t let your weekend morning slip away! It’s been shown that waking up at the same time every day is better for your sleep, so if your internal alarm clock already has you up, make use of that time. Get out of bed and squeeze in a quick workout or do a little bedside yoga. Tack on an extra 15 minutes while walking your dog. Workouts at home are a great use of a few minutes to yourself in the morning! Getting them in before the rest of the house gets up ensures you’ve locked in some self-care before other things fill your day.
2. Don’t Save Everything For the Weekend
If you’re the gal who saves every life chore for the weekend, those two days will get crowded! Try moving your home cleaning routine to Thursday nights, or break it up throughout the week into smaller tasks. Going into the weekend with fresh linens, a vacuum run, and a clean kitchen can do wonders for the psyche of having a relaxing space to enjoy.
The same principle can be applied to the fun stuff too! If you’re trying to catch up with everyone you love on a Saturday or Sunday, the weekend will feel frenetic. Try a Monday night cocktail when restaurants are less crowded. Could you do an early morning weekday breakfast with an out-of-town friend? Plugging things back into your week instead of defaulting to weekend scheduling will automatically make weekends feel fuller.
3. Use Timers for Key Tasks
Do you put off projects or hobbies because you think you need to devote the whole weekend? You’d be surprised at how little time it takes to “be productive.” If you’ve been meaning to read more, try small doses on weekend afternoons. Set two alarms — one to remind you to pick up a book and one 30 minutes later. That time will fly by, and you’ll probably even want to keep at it! For less fun weekend tasks (cleaning out the garage, updating your home budget), set that same 30 minute timer and promise yourself to give it your all of that stretch. Once 30 minutes hits, reward yourself with a break for something fun and come back to it the next day if needed.
Meal prep is another way to make sure you’re having a productive weekend! Again, it doesn’t need to mean hours of working away in the kitchen on a Sunday. Give yourself one hour to chop, prep, grocery plan, and make snacks for the week. With a bit of a deadline, you’re also more likely to pick up the pace and keep kitchen work from sucking up the whole day!
4. Hit All Three Buckets
Try to think of every weekend in three buckets — Must Do, Must Not Do, and Learning to Do. The Must Dos are just the essentials. Even when we enjoy catching up with family, running the kiddos to practice, or puttering around the house, they are still things on the calendar. Must Not Do means that every weekend should have a little slice of doing nothing. This can be whatever “nothing” means to you, but it should be whatever self-care or restorative activity brings you peace.
Learning to Do is the one that can be the hardest to get to, mostly because the buzzing around and the resting take center stage! Be purposeful in your pursuit of your hobbies and passions on the weekend. Find yourself flipping through the TV? Download a learning app and start a new video class instead. Mimosas and croissants with your girlfriends on Saturday? Talk them into an afternoon French class at your local college. (Post-class mimosas still optional.)
5. Take Fridays Seriously
Friday, you’re the best. Especially in summer, it can be easy to mentally call it a day sometime after 3pm. But that may make it more likely that you don’t effectively wrap up your week, and have work or other to-dos trickle into the weekend.
Use the last few hours of Friday as your weekend power hours! Before you check out and get into full weekend mode, take some time to prep for Monday morning. Clean up your desk or workspace. Leave yourself a Monday to-do list. Take a few minutes on your networking efforts and forward along an article you think a colleague would find interesting. Closing out your Friday thoughtfully tees you up for a more productive weekend!
6. Give Work a Structure
Nowadays, it’s inevitable that many of us have to check in with work over the weekend. Be it email review or major projects, some things simply don’t get done in the 9-5. If this is your situation, just give weekend work some structure. Tackling a major proposal? Don’t pick away at it all weekend — you’ll just end up feeling like you didn’t get a break. Block out some serious time of a few hours and hammer through.
If email floods in, let colleagues know that you review emails at a set time, say, from 2-4 on Sunday afternoon. (We’ve all fired off a weekend email that we don’t necessarily expect a response to, so it’s okay to expect others to feel the same way.)
Check in with your boss on this, but consider using an out-of-office message that you set from Friday night to Monday morning. Something like, “Thanks for your note! I respond to non-urgent emails from 2-4 on Sundays and am back in the office at 8am Monday. If this is an emergency, please feel free to give me a call.” More than likely, no one is going to give you a ring over the weekend, and you’re setting a responsive but fair boundary for your personal time.