Many people go crashing into the weekend like a running back diving into the end zone. They have thoroughly spent themselves during the work week, so the weekends are their time to completely disconnect, and engage in mindless activities like watching TV, playing video games, or working out.
However, weekends are not only a great time to rest, but also to recreate (as in "re-create" yourself, and to regain your focus and enthusiasm for your life and work.) By instilling a few simple checkpoints, or rituals, in your weekend, you can spark your creative juices and ensure that you're clear-headed and focused heading into your next week.
Take a "Stimulus Dive"
One very useful weekend ritual is to immerse yourself in some kind of stimulating experience you wouldn't normally have. Go to a museum or take a walk in a strange neighborhood. Go to a sporting event that you've never experienced before. Get lost in a park. Do something to get out of your regular ruts and normal patterns of weekend behavior. Engaging in a foreign activity sparks new neural connections and forces you to experience the world in a new way, which not only feels gratifying and energizing, but has side benefits for your creative process.
In her book The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron recommends a regular activity called the "artist's date", which is time spent by yourself doing something that inspires you and fills your well. It is time that is purely selfish and is designed to help you stay inspired. The weekend is a great time to plan an excursion that will fill your well and spark your creative juices.
Connect With The Themes Of The Past Week
When the week is over, it's easy to wipe it from your mind. However, the weekend is a great time to review your week and consider what you'd like to be different moving forward. A simple framework to use for your review is:
High: What was the high point of your week, and why? What went especially well, and in a memorable way?
Low: What was the low point of your week, and why? Is there anything you can do differently to avoid it in the future?
Learning: What's something you learned this week that you want to implement moving forward? Did you make a connection or experience something that can help you in the future?
Take a few minutes to write answers to each of these three questions in a notebook or journal. You may also want to keep each week's answers together so that you can flip through them and scan for patterns.
Plan Your Most Important Creative Work In Advance
For many people, Monday morning is a mad scramble to get out of bed, out the door, and up to speed. However, taking a bit of time in advance to consider your week can help you gain better traction right out of the gate. On Sunday evening, take fifteen minutes to preview the upcoming week and consider the best way to structure it.
When will you block off time to do your most important deep work?
Are there any open loops or conversations you need to have this week?
When will you schedule time for personal growth, exercise, and rest?
If you don't plan these things in advance, it's likely that the urgency of the week will squeeze them out of your life. Discretionary activities always fall prey to more urgent ones, and it's only over time that you realize how critical they actually are. Take fifteen minutes over the weekend to save a lot of pain later.
Yes, the weekend provides a well-deserved break from the daily grind, but it can also be a valuable tool to help you stay charged to bring your best to your life and work. Establish a few rituals to help you re-create, stay creatively supercharged, and avoid the burnout rut.