With vaccination rates climbing, bosses and workers across the country are wrestling with what the post-pandemic workweek should look like. The Swedes have a suggestion for a little ritual to add to your schedule to make your new normal, whatever it ends up looking like, a little more joyful.
Why Wednesday is the best day for a break.
While there is no consensus about what our workweeks after Covid should look like, surveys show trends are starting to emerge. Employees want to hold on to some but not all of their remote days--for instance, and a huge number tell pollsters they want to continue working from home either Monday or Wednesday.
It's not hard to figure out why Mondays are popular. Taking a work-from-home day on either side of the weekend isn't the same as a three-day break, but intuitively it just feels like a longer stint away from the office will be more refreshing. And if we're more refreshed, we'll have happier, more productive workweeks.
Time-use experts, however, insist that intuition is wrong. Several have argued that if you're looking to break up your in-office grind, a mid-week break is your best bet. A change of pace on Wednesday acts like a palate cleanser, making the two days on either side feel like a lighter lift. That means you get more refreshment bang for your buck with a midweek intervention than a weekend-adjacent one.
Which could serve as an argument to take to your boss for a four-day workweek (at least one company who tried closing on Wednesdays saw profits triple). But if chopping a whole day off your schedule is too hard a sell or otherwise unfeasible at your company, that doesn't mean you can't leverage the principle of the midweek refresher. The Swedes have a simple but powerful ritual based on this principle that anyone can adopt, whether or not they're expected in the office on Wednesdays.
Improve your week by adding a 'Little Saturday'
As Lauren Allain explains on Forge, it's called 'lillördag,' which translates to 'little Saturday.' Just as the name suggests, the basic idea is to plan a little Saturday-like break on Wednesday night. This need not be a big blowout. A quick happy hour with a friend, a little indulgence at home, or even grabbing a midweek movie should do it.
"Having a small celebration on Wednesday to look forward to helps break up the monotony, and it helps reinforce the idea that we should be making a stark distinction between work hours and all other hours of the day," she writes. "Celebrating lillördag doesn't come with any preset rules. So long as you've disconnected from work and set aside a time for enjoyment and to release any stress from the previous three days of work, you're doing it right."
Psychology suggests that intentionally breaking up your week will have powerful effects on your mood any time you try it. But as Allain points out, we're all particularly in need of a jolt of joy as we climb out of this pandemic year. And while the last twelve months have been horrible, they also took a sledgehammer to old routines--offering us the perfect opportunity to reflect on our schedules and build back better with intention.
Committing to a 'Little Saturday' each week is one incredibly easy way to craft a more joyful post-pandemic workweek.