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PRODUCTIVITY

Secret to More Refreshing Weekends

The busiest and most successful people use this strategy for restorative weekends to keep burnout at bay, according to author Laura Vanderkam.

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You work like a maniac at your business all week, so what do you usually do come Friday?

If you answered, Simply flop down on the sofa and run through a long list of chores, you're certainly not alone. This approach (or lack of an approach, really) to weekends is common and understandable, but how does it leave you feeling on Mondays?

That's the question posed by author Laura Vanderkam in her new e-book What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, a follow-up to her popular What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. In it, Vanderkam talks to the über-busy and supersuccessful, and gathers research on what sorts of weekends are actually best for battling burnout to ensure you're ready to head back to business on Monday morning.

It turns out, your meandering, lazy Saturdays may be leaving you at risk of burnout. 

Too Much Time Not to Schedule  

Vanderkam's starting point: Realize exactly how precious and how abundant your weekend hours are. Even subtracting 24 hours of solid sleep from the 60 hours you have between cracking a beer at 6 p.m. on Friday and hearing the alarm at 6 a.m. on Monday, weekends offer a solid 36 hours of possible relaxation.

That's nearly as much time as a full-time workweek and demands thoughtful strategizing, just like a job.

Or as former Republican presidential candidate and current media pundit Mike Huckabee puts it in the book: “You have to set an appointment to go off the grid as surely as to go on it.”

Scheduled Relaxation Is Not an Oxymoron

Your intense workweeks as an entrepreneur may leave you wiped come Friday, but Vanderkam argues that sitting slack-jawed in front of the TV or aimlessly surfing the Web isn't going to get you ready for another week.

Paradoxically, really rejuvenating yourself requires getting off your duff--and that usually requires some planning.

"Other kinds of work—be it exercise, a creative hobby, hands-on parenting, or volunteering—will do more to preserve your zest for Monday’s challenges than complete vegetation or working through the weekend," she writes.

Whether it's coaching a kids' sports team like the CEO of Insureon, playing a regular game of pickup soccer like celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, or extending a standing invitation to your friends for a Sunday evening supper like Huckabee, all the successful people profiled in the book plot out their weekends in advance (though not every minute; just a few "anchor events," as Vanderkam dubs them) and make active use of the hours they have.

This may initially sound like less fun and more effort, but according to the high achievers Vanderkam speaks with, spending energy on the weekends actually leaves you with more zest on Monday.

Anticipation Is Half the Pleasure

Planning your weekends may sound too Type A at first, but Vanderkam claims thinking ahead doesn't just push you toward more active (and therefore more rejuvenating) pursuits. It's also a pleasure unto itself. "Time travel into the future—otherwise known as anticipation—accounts for a big chunk of the happiness gleaned from any event," she writes.

It also spares you from wasting precious weekend minutes negotiating a plan with your spouse, or running around trying to find a reservation, babysitter, or willing goalkeeper to complete your five-a-side team. Plus, commitments make it harder to simply throw up your hands and claim you're "too tired" to do anything when you wake up on Saturday.

Intrigued by this more active approach to weekends? Check out the book for more specifics and ideas on how and what to plan (as well as tips on how to manage chores and children to make this possible).

What's your approach to getting the maximum amount of rejuvenation out of your weekend? 

 

Last updated: Jan 8, 2013

JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist.
@EntryLevelRebel




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