Now more than ever it’s important to nail the weekend. Come Monday it’s so easy to feel guilty, asking yourself the same questions every week: where did the time go? Why didn’t I make the most of it? Why don’t I feel like I’ve had a weekend?
Successful people have a knack for making the most of their downtime. They know how to separate work and play, they know how to refresh, they create healthy habits and they use the sacred spare time they have to propel themselves into the week. Here’s how you can do the same.
Rise And Shine
OK, getting up early is par for the course Monday to Friday so a lie-in is warranted, but on Saturday at least set your alarm like it’s a work day, even if it means turning it off and sleeping for an extra hour. The satisfaction from getting up early, packing more into the day and feeling productively worn out beats even the most comfortable weekend snoozes, trust us.
You don’t need to look far for CEO inspiration in this department either. Robert Iger, former CEO of Disney, is just one of many who swear by an early start. That said, if sleeping in longer means getting in a fully nourishing eight hours, that’s advantageous on a weekend too. The likes of Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Tim Cook have all been reported to get around seven hours per night. The more quality sleep you can fit in, the better.
Beware of indulgent lie-ins however. Too much sleep can have the opposite effect and make you feel lethargic during the day.
Get The Blood Pumping
This one should be obvious but if you put off exercising during the week, promising yourself you’ll get your blood pumping at the weekend, you need to follow through. Steps to a successful weekend routine don’t occur in isolation. Get up early and go for a run, cycle or follow a workout video on You tube. Picture how good you’ll feel afterwards and get it all done and dusted early.
An active body means an active mind. Sir Paul Smith swims; Anna Wintour plays tennis; Richard Branson kite surfs. Exercise is and always will be the key to staying healthy and keeping your mind sharp. The weekend offers the opportunity to follow more creative forms of exercise that you wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to do during the week.
Clear Your Mind
You likely know the benefits of meditation – it boosts mental health, reduces stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure and improves sleep, to name but a few – especially as it has steadily infiltrated corporate culture. Jeff Weiner, Executive Chairman of LinkedIn, Marc Benioff, Co-founder and CEO of SalesForce, and Oprah Winfrey are just some of the high performers who swear by the practice.
Not convinced? It doesn’t even have to be meditation. It could just be a commitment to 20 minutes of stillness – whether at home in the garden, out on the balcony, on a walk by a lake or just sitting on a chair in your bedroom. It’s difficult to slow down during the working week so make it your duty to dedicate some time to giving your mind a break every weekend.
We would recommend not checking your email inbox over the weekend. If that sounds like a terrifying prospect then we would actively encourage it even more. Switch off across devices. Spend some time on airplane mode, mute notifications and be present in what you’re actually doing.
If for some unavoidable reason you need to check, then dedicate a specific time and then don’t check again. The weekend is part of the ever-dwindling time you have where you’re allowed to not be connected. Make the most of it.
Giving back is important and volunteering a few hours of your weekend to a just cause is a great way to meet new people, improve your mental health and, most importantly, make life better for someone else.
Good Gym is an exercise-based volunteering organisation that will help you kill two of your weekend goals with one stone, but take the time out to see what opportunities are available in your local area, too.
Life is about balance and the weekend is about doing important stuff you struggle to do during the week. Cooking a solid meal is one such thing. Much has been made of Stanley Tucci’s home cooking and we’re not saying making a ragu on a Saturday will guarantee you a culinary-based travel show on TV, but cooking can nonetheless be a calming, mentally-focusing way to relax and be creative.
The healthier the better but it’s also a good opportunity to indulge. Make a routine out of it. Going out and sourcing some better ingredients, walking to a market, getting fresh air, bringing them back and cooking for friends and family. It’s a good way to tick many of the boxes on this list in one.
Connect With People
Much has been made of Andre 3000’s recent foray into playing the flute. Something that was telling from his dungarees-clad interview was how much he seemed to be enjoying just hanging out with his loved ones. How it fuelled such a creative time in his life.
A similar theme is best-selling authors and how, in their spare time, they seem to value not hanging out with other best-selling authors. Networking is one thing. Hanging out with friends and family is an entirely different experience.
We’re social beings and even if you’re an introverted tech genius hidden away in a dark room creating the next billion-dollar product, at some point you’re going to need to hang out. Balance the forced social interaction of the week with the preferential socialising of the weekend.
Take A Moment Of Reflection
If you’ve ever delved into Dr Laurie Santos’ Happiness Lab podcast, or taken part in the associated free online course which was originally put on as a class at Yale University, you’ll know the importance of reflection and gratitude.
Successful people and importantly, people who report higher levels of happiness, often practise reflection and gratitude. As Bill Gates is quoted, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Write a reflection and gratitude journal. It only has to be one line per day, more if you feel like it, and use a few minutes at the weekend to evaluate what you’ve written.
Do Your Prep
Laura Vanderkam, author of ‘What The Most Successful People Do On The Weekends’, calls it ‘Sort Your Life Out Sunday’. Others merely call it reflection and planning time. But whatever you do, set time aside on a Sunday to plan for the week ahead – you won’t regret it.
It really is easier to hit the ground running on a Monday if you’ve done your prep – just ask Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who dedicates his Sundays to feedback, reflection, strategy and planning.
Jack Dorsey also goes for a hike on a Saturday while Warren Buffet plays the ukulele in his spare time. In a world where it’s almost impossible to get a break from the glare of a screen, it’s vital to get stuck into something that gives your brain a rest.
Some successful people garden, while others invest time in sports, crafts or writing. The key is following your passions and taking a break from the ever-connected world to focus on something else that is personally rewarding.
Give Yourself A Break
Tim Ferris is a firm believer in this: don’t overdo it. Granted, we’ve provided you with the building blocks but don’t feel like you need to achieve everything in one Saturday.
Don’t multitask on auto-pilot; prioritise a handful of important tasks and focus.