What do you have going on next Tuesday? A quick look at your calendar probably shows a bunch of meetings, calls, and blocks of time set aside for focused work or particular projects. How about next Saturday? Does a glance at your planner reveal nothing but empty white space?
For most of us that's natural. Weekends are free time, after all. Isn't the whole point to kick back and enjoy being commitment (and appointment) free? While that attitude toward leisure makes sense at first glimpse, a handful of productivity experts suggest that the super successful actually approach their off hours very differently.
Don't leave Saturday a blank
On this blog recently, entrepreneur and author Ben Casnocha highlighted this quote from influential psychologist and Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which he found in a new book by Cal Newport called Deep Work:
Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one's work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.
Newport, Casnocha notes, looks at this reality and recommends "we more rigorously schedule our weekends instead of leaving Saturday wide open and figuring it out once we wake up." You don't need to have something planned from sun up to sun down, but it's a good idea to pencil in your most important leisure activities, Newport feels.
What the most successful people do on the weekends?
While this suggestion makes me personally recoil in utter horror, it's apparently not that out there an idea. Time use expert and author Laura Vanderkam claims that the most successful among us actively plan our weekends, and oddly that this is a more refreshing approach than simply going with the flow.
Top CEOs and other high performers realize that if you really want to be refreshed come Monday, you shouldn't just lay around all weekend, she claims. And a schedule can help encourage you to get off your butt and actually make the most of your free time. "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 has written.
Are you buying the notion that you need to keep a calendar for your leisure hours too?