January 2, 2013
4 Things Effective People Do On The Weekend

We all work hard during the week. If your Monday to Friday schedule features something or somebody clamoring for your attention every 15 minutes, you may think the best thing to do on the weekend is nothing — right?

 Well, not so fast. It’s actually impossible to do “nothing.” Time will be filled with something whether you choose what to fill it with or not. Not choosing greatly increases the chances that the somethings that occupy your time won’t be as satisfying and rejuvenating as you wish your weekends would be. Here are four steps for a smarter approach that not only relaxes you, but helps you win the week ahead:

 1. Make a plan. Not a minute-by-minute plan, but spend some time thinking about what you’d like to do on the weekend. Life can’t just wait for vacation, and if you’re busy, you don’t have time to waste on the weekend deciding what your fun is going to be. As former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee told me (for my forthcoming ebook, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend), “Don’t enter into it with such a lack of structure that you don’t do anything because you spend all day thinking about what you want to do.” Take a few minutes during the week to brainstorm enjoyable activities with your family or friends, then look forward to your days off.

 2. Use a different part of your brain. Dominique Schurman, CEO of the stationery store chain Papyrus, told me that she spends some of her weekend time gardening. In particular, she likes to move her pots around, studying different ways to combine color and texture, which is not unlike what she asks her card designers to do during the week. This more relaxing sort of work adds a tactile dimension to her process of creativity. Whether it’s reading a novel, playing a musical instrument or studying martial arts, come up with some weekend endeavor that stretches your brain in different directions.

 3. Keep a Sabbath. Yes, you have to check your email at some point, and probably wade through the backlog. But challenge yourself to confine work to limited periods of time on the weekend, and unplug for as long as possible — 24 hours if you can. You don’t have to be religious to see the upside in taking a break. You’ll probably find ideas flying at you when you free yourself from your inbox for an extended period of time.

 4. Look forward. Spend a little bit of time on Sunday night checking your calendar and scheduling in whatever you don’t see that needs to be there. Get clear on what your team should do Monday morning. If you have a great Sunday night, chances are everyone else will have a great week, knowing that they’re marching in the same direction.

 How do you use your weekends?

Laura Vanderkam
Laura Vanderkam is the author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (Portfolio, 2012) and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, 2010). She writes the 168 Hours blog for CBS MoneyWatch, is a member of USA Today's Board of Contributors, and speaks frequently about time management and leadership topics. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

Other Articles by Laura Vanderkam:

How To Give Regular Feedback And Still Get Work Done

Why And How Managers Should Help Workers Set Boundaries

Work-Life Balance Is Dead—Why That Might Be A Good Thing

It’s Time To Stop Asking CEOs How They 'Balance'

How To Figure Out Your Optimal Workload

7 Common Mistakes New Managers Make

The Right Way To Use Company Perks

How To Figure Out Your Most Productive Time Of Day

Why You Should Rethink That Morning Meeting

5 Ways To Keep Your Best Employees From Quitting