In recent years, we’ve become more and more conscious of the issue of “work/life balance.” In part, that’s an aspect of a general movement toward awareness of the importance of mental health. In part, it’s a result of the way our constant access to phones and email blurs the line between home and office.
To help create a better work/life balance, many companies are experimenting with flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and more generous vacation time. But even if you have a standard work schedule, there’s a lot you can do to level those scales. It’s all about taking advantage of your weekend!
Research indicates that how you spend your weekends can lay the groundwork for your work success during the week. Here are our pro tips for how to make the most of your weekends, so you can hit the ground running on Monday.
1. Rest and Recharge
Successful entrepreneurs are lauded for their unique ability to juggle many balls in order to keep their business running. Sometimes burning the candle at both ends is inevitable, especially if you’re heading up a startup or have a major deadline looming.
Sky Zone CEO Jeff Platt recounts his own experience starting up his trampoline park business. Platt recalls working “16-hour days, seven days a week, for two years.” One day, he realized that this level of mental and physical strain wasn’t sustainable in the long term, and he made the decision to hire employees.
Experts say that our mental energy is a finite resource. The ability to regulate discipline, stay attentive, and solve problems becomes more difficult as the day goes on. According to Allison Gabriel, assistant professor of management at VCU University, "When you are constantly draining your resources, you are not being as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, we see performance decline. You're able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”
In other words, we actually need time off in order to work effectively. Working straight through without a break isn’t effective – you’re burnt out and not doing good work. So take those weekend days to let your mind rest; do something fun and completely non-work-related to recharge.
2. Family Time
Why do so many entrepreneurs start their own businesses? To provide for their families. It’s an unfortunate paradox that to make the money they need to sustain a certain quality of life, they need to spend time away from their loved ones. Even if you own a family business and work side by side with your spouse or extended family, “work time” is not “family time.”
What’s a busy entrepreneur to do to ensure that they’re connecting with their loved ones during time away from the office? Use that weekend time to reconnect and spend time together. If you’re married, uninterrupted time with your spouse is a must. If you have children, spend time with them, enjoying their activities and focusing on their needs. You’ll be able to face the challenges of the work week when you know you have a supportive network for you at home.
Your family is important to you and you’re not going to do your best work if you feel disconnected from them. Weekends are the perfect opportunity to get that quality time in.
3. Social Time and Community Involvement
Social interaction is vital for all of us. Social interaction can make you happier, healthier, and even lead to work connections which can boost your career in the future. Successful entrepreneurs know that interacting outside of work and interacting in their community is a key to business success.
Whether it’s running a charity race or attending the opening of a new local park, entrepreneurs know that giving back to their community on weekends can benefit them mentally and professionally. Find ways to grow your network and get out in your community for events.
And don’t forget personal social time! Have your friends over to watch the game or go out for dinner or drinks. Maintain that network of people you care about. They can help you unwind and think about things other than work. They’re also an important source of support and they miss you when you spend all day every day at the office.
4. Creative Hobbies
One of the biggest secrets of entrepreneurship is the intrinsic value of pursuing a creative hobby. Find something that lights your fire — writing your crime novel, learning to play an instrument, working in your wood shop, taking dance classes. Creative hobbies are healthy even if you’re not constantly crushed at work, but they’re even more important when you’re carrying the stress of running your own business.
And hobbies can actually be good for your work! Pros have found that by awakening your creative side outside of the office, you may be more able to bring new thinking and problem solving skills to the entrepreneurial table. A hobby that you love engages your mind and gives you something to focus on other than work during your free time.
5. Active Hobbies and Exercise
We all know that routine exercise is good for our bodies and our minds. But logging hours on a treadmill in a sweaty gym is the last thing most of us want to do on weekends. The good news is that there about a million options to turn your weekend active time into something fun. For example, if you like the outdoors, then finding new hiking spots to explore with the family is both a way to connect and get needed exercise.
If there was an activity you loved as a child but gave up once the pressures of adult life took over, consider revisiting that childhood love. Horseback riding, ice skating, and biking can be lifelong pursuits that can keep you mentally and physically active on weekends. If you liked team sports, adult softball and soccer leagues make it easy for you to work out with a crew.
The point is to get moving, however best fits your needs. Get that blood pumping, that heart rate up, and those endorphins flowing!
6. Plan Your Next Week
Pros say that successful people plan their week ahead on Sunday night. The more you can plan on Sunday night, the less you’ll have to think about on Monday morning. After a weekend recharge, you’ll have a clear head for what you need to get done, what your priorities for the week are, and how best to handle them. Set up a schedule for the week to make sure you don’t forget anything and to help keep yourself accountable for what needs to get done.
Lay out your clothes for the next day. Pack your lunch the night before. Organize your office materials and put them in your briefcase. Setting yourself up for success on Sunday night is simple and it takes just a few steps to make the morning go smoothly.
Thank Goodness It’s Monday!
How you spend your weekend down time can help you tackle your work week with purpose, energy, and drive. By making the effort to recharge, spend time with family, and pursue creative and active endeavors, you’ll be able to greet your Mondays with a spring in your step and positive energy for the week ahead.
Of course, sometimes you’ll have pressing issues that just can’t wait until Monday. And that’s ok – running your own business means you’re on call for all the important issues and those issues don’t necessarily respect your calendar. If you have to run in to the office on a Saturday or take a call on a Sunday, go ahead and do it! The key is to keep an eye on how often you’re doing that and make sure you’re getting enough R&R.
If you find that you’re working every weekend and can’t seem to catch a day off, then there are a couple of things you can do. First, take a look at your routine. Do those tasks really have to get done over the weekend? Is there something you can do during the week to help ensure that your weekends are free? If you’re simply swamped, it may be time to bring on an employee to help share the work. Sometimes, there’s just more to get done than one person can manage on their own.
Diving into your free time and taking the opportunity to recharge is both healthy and good for business. If you really enjoy your weekends, you won’t have to dread Mondays – you’ll be rested and ready to crush your work week!
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