How to Make the Most of Your Work Week (Hint: what you do on the weekend matters)

Sometimes weekends are boring. We may feel tired from the work week or just simply not know what to do with our time, wanting to make the most of our precious two days off. And other times, weekends are jammed packed with kids’ events, family obligations, social gatherings, and general errands that can eat up all of our time, leaving us to feel rushed, stressed, and frantic come Monday morning.

In both scenarios, when Monday comes, we feel ill-prepared. We can either be so overloaded from the weekend without being able to properly rest or stop moving for one second, that we are now burning out before work has even begun. On the more boring weekends where we aimlessly watch TV, sleep for hours, and just sit around, we can feel as though our weekend was wasted and have a hard time getting ourselves out of that mental rut and switching gears into work mode.

To feel both rested and ready for our work week ahead, it’s important to spend our weekends truly disconnecting from anything task related and fill our days instead with rejuvenating activities. If we practice the art of relaxing on the weekends (not TV watching, not going out with friends late at night), we can reap the benefits of a more productive work week, as well as have a more enjoyable weekend. Smart, happy people know how to do just this. They know the value of a truly rejuvenating weekend and how the benefits carry into their week ahead.

To get more from your work week while truly enjoying your weekend time, here are 9 things you can do this upcoming weekend and future weekends to come!

Exercise

Exercising will always be a recommend way to spend time. Not only is it necessary to maintain proper functioning of our bodies and minds, but it allows us to release endorphins, giving us that relaxed feelings, as well as clear our minds. Low impact exercises such as yoga, hiking, walking, biking, or swimming allows for a slower pace to reflect and be mindful of our movements, but any activity is good activity!

Spend Quality Time with Family

Time with our loved ones can create a sense of calm and peace when we choose to spend that time doing things we love as a family. This can be anything as simple as petting your cat and watching her play to taking the family on a walk at a nearby park. Not only does the time together strengthen the bond between your family (strong relationships are an indicator of happiness) but the playfulness can release some stress – the perfect combination for a disconnecting weekend.

Take Some Time to Reflect

Through journaling, writing, or simply sitting quietly in your own thoughts is a great way to spend time reflecting on your work week and on other areas of your life. By intentionally asking ourselves questions we increase our self-awareness and can gain a clear picture on what we may need or want to change in our lives. Not everything needs changing and this can also help us practice gratitude and reflect on things that we are grateful for in our lives, no matter how big or small.

Minimize Tasks and Errands

Because we deplete so much mental energy during the work week, it can be extremely beneficial to leave the work week for any other errands or tasks that need to be done such as grocery shopping, cleaning, dog washing, laundry pickup, and the like. If you can, pencil in these types of errands and tasks into your weeknights or for convenience, outsource some of these for low-cost by using an app like TaskRabbit (hire local people to complete errands for you). It’s amazing how much better we can feel waking up on a Saturday knowing we don’t have to get right out of bed to start taking care of things.

Go on A Mini Adventure

Go for a day-hike, book an afternoon at the spa, travel to a nearby city you have never been to, go to a concert in the park. Do this with your family, with your partner, by yourself – it doesn’t matter – the benefits are in the doing something different and new. It opens our senses, creates curiosity, excitement, and a sense of wonder that fills us up with good feelings. Call them what you’d like, but these mini-trips or day-cations work wonders for our psyche and mental health.

Pursue a Passion

You know those hobbies you loved years ago and started sort of doing recently but have been “too busy” to really devote time to? Well, the weekends are the best time to unleash your inner musician, artist, chef, sew-maker, woodsmith, photographer – you name it. Dedicate part of your weekend days to these things that bring you absolute joy and enjoy fully with no interruptions.

Have a Little ‘Me’ Time

This may seem redundant to the above passion pursing or even reflecting, but make no mistake – “Me Time” can be different. Studies have found that “Me Time” works best first thing in the morning, while your body is waking up and your mind is clear. This time essentially helps you start your day slowly and more mindfully, giving you a great sense of calm to begin your day with. What you do with this time doesn’t necessarily matter, but many have found more simpler activities such as writing, reading, enjoying 30 mins for a cup of coffee, meditating, taking a bath, sitting outside, listening to calming music, and the like have worked best.

Stick to Your Routines (even on the weekend)

This one is important. Waking up at the same time each day and going to bed at the same time each day, keeps us feeling grounded and rested – both of which are essential to maximum rejuvenating benefits. While the weekends should be spent intentionally relaxing, it doesn’t mean lose all sense of time and stay up into the wee hours of the night or sleep in until noon. By sticking to a few basic routines that you have all week long, it keeps us in our rhythm, making our transition from weekend to week, seamless.

Disconnect (even for part of a day or 1 day)

Sunday usually works best for this. It’s easier to power off our devices and disconnect from technology on Sundays. But, you can choose whichever day or part of a day that works best for you. Even if it’s for a few hours, staying off our phones, our laptops, and screens in general gives our eyes and minds a much needed break. There are so many other ways to find inspiration, so many other projects to work on, and so many other things to do; there is no need for us to spend so much time connected to everyone and everything, which can actually create additional stress for us.

Set your weekends with intention. By using our weekend days to fully recover and relax from the work week we are doing good things for our bodies and minds. The art of relaxing on the weekends and truly disconnecting creates an environment in which we can relax and feel whole, allowing us to welcome the work week ahead.

Relaxing doesn’t come so easily to people because we are shown that we need to constantly be working on something or be involved in something to get ahead or prove ourselves. By working past those feelings and allowing ourselves time to rest on the weekends we can be the best versions of ourselves and improve our overall productivity and happiness at work during the week.

Photo: Pixaby

Hearing Things We Don’t Want to Hear

There are times when we all hear it, words from our friends, family, or even coworkers about ourselves that we sometimes don’t want to hear. Who wants to be told that there are things they should work on? Who wants to hear our problems might be our own fault, or that we aren’t right about something? Often times, these things are told to us in roundabout ways, hidden beneath passive-aggressive comments and remarks, that we know are meant to mean something other than how they come out. Other times, they may be direct, gut-wrenching, blood-boiling statements about ourselves that we are uncomfortable listening to.

Think to a recent conversation you have had – with a family member, friend, boss, stranger, even – that maybe didn’t go the way you intended and maybe you felt as though you were being personally attacked. Maybe someone had brought up a topic that you feel they have no business bringing up (that is an entirely different thing). Or perhaps, you brought up a particular topic or situation or idea and had solicited someone’s thoughts or advice on the matter. Regardless, you ended up on the topic of “X”, and you just did not care for the way “so and so” was speaking to you, or the things that they said. It could have felt they were talking at you, telling you what you should have done, should have said, should have acted, or should do now. You ended the conversation feeling a little frazzled, somewhat hurt, and definitely judged.

Sound like a conversation you can recall easily?

Don’t fret. We all have those from time to time. Here, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is that you’re not alone in feeling these things after some conversations and in fact, many of us experience these on a daily basis or every time we speak to “so and so”. The bad is that we don’t realize, but we often put ourselves in those situations or conversations ourselves (even by not removing ourselves from it or ending the conversation, we are participating and allowing it to continue to happen), and the ugly: These are good conversations that can ultimately lead to better versions of ourselves and better relationships with others. Yes – they can – if we can work to be a little less “sensitive”, or at the very least, learn to deal with “tough love” from others.

How to Deal with Tough Love from Others

 

First things first, if you asked for someone’s advice or opinion or what they thought, etc, then be prepared to hear what they have to say. You can’t expect people to tip-toe around your feelings if you are outwardly asking for their honest feedback. Not to mention, what good would it do anyone if people were not fully honest? How would we grow as people if we didn’t have someone who cared enough or was willing enough to be honest and bring a fresh perspective to things? Those are the kinds of people in our lives that we all need to work on appreciating more.

But secondly, use this as a learning experience to grow and also put yourselves in their shoes too. When you are on the receiving end of these hard-to-hear conversations, don’t take everything personally. Sure, it can feel personal, but the giver of the hard-to-hear advice or opinions may not be communicating what he or she means, very well. So while they have good intentions, it may be coming off a way that had not intended. This is because tough-love is called that for a reason – it’s tough to give. Often times, the person having these conversations with you or being honest with you is having a more difficult time telling you these things than you are listening to it. It’s important to listen to them, but also important to participate in these conversations to better understand their perspective, intent and advice.

And lastly, remember that these people care about you otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to help you – even if it may not seem like they are “helping”. They want you to be happy and do whatever that means you need to do. So although the words may not come out in the best way sometimes (do they always?), they have your back and want to see you succeed in life. Never assume they meant to burn you with that comment, or that they don’t like you because they are criticizing you.  Many things can be mistakenly taken out of context, or misconstrued.Think of the people in your life who just tell you what they think you want to hear. Those people do not truly care about you and would not be there for you if/when you really needed it. The people who can say it like it is; those are the people to keep around.

Why Tough Love is so Important

Many of the things we are told by those who love us and know us best are exactly what we need to hear. Often times we are lying to ourselves and are unable to see a situation for how it really is, or solve a problem on our own with our bias lenses. Those who bring to us those criticisms or hard truths about ourselves aren’t usually way off base, if we really think about it. In reality, they are quite often pretty spot on, if we can admit that to ourselves. Without hearing these truths or having someone call us out on our BS, we would forever spiral on our own misery. These wonderful truths can be just the wake up call we need. They force us to take accountability for ourselves and our lives and by realizing that we are accountable, we can realize that we are in control. And when we can realize we are in control, we have the power to make changes!

Recall a few recent conversations in which you received a little tough love from someone else. Did you open your heart and mind and really listen to what your friend had to offer? Were you accepting of their advice or their words, even if you disagreed with some points? Did you have a good, open dialect with them or did you quickly and instinctively become defensive and closed-off, changing the subject or ending the conversation abruptly? The next time you see or catch up with these people or person, give them a hug and thank them. Let them know how truly you value them and how you know they mean well in their intentions. Thank them for always listening to you, even when it’s tough, and for giving you the honest advice and tough-love that you need to hear. Then, don’t stop there – do them and mostly yourself a favor and take accountability for your situations and take action my friend!

Single-Tasking at Work

Multitasking splits your brain!

I had to research this to see what happens, scientifically speaking, when I try to multi-task. Whenever I try to do it, I may feel like a temporary powerhouse – oooh, look at what I am doing, so many tasks at once – but that feeling is quickly and always replaced with stress and an intense feeling of unproductivity. I end up leaving work thinking of all of the things I kind of, sort of worked on today, but how very little of them, or anything is actually completed. Sometimes, I can’t even think of something I accomplished that day. These are not good feelings.

Back to the Brain when it’s multitasking…

brain on multitasking

Your brain has halves, which I think we all knew. They’re most commonly referenced in one half is responsible for logical thinking and the other, creative. Well, you also have sections or compartments of the brain. Part of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, is the frontal section of your brain (still has a right and left side). Essentially when you carry out a task, both sides of the prefrontal cortex work in harmony to carry out that task. But when I try to work on a report, respond to an email, and finish up saving and fixing that other report, I force those sides of the prefrontal cortex to work independently of one another. In some studies, scientists have found that in doing so, we forget details and make 3 times more mistakes. So, not only does it lower our productivity, but could also be lowering our IQ, and definitely negatively impacts our productivity.

So what’s a girl to do? As chaotic of a world I work in being in Digital Advertising, I am determined to master the art of single-tasking. For whatever reason, we tell ourselves that we’re more productive when we work on a multitude of things in a day, vs finishing 1 or 2 things completely. But, I know that truly, the day is productive when I leave work feeling accomplished, calmer, focused, and can actually name something I completed that day. This is sort of a new approach for me, but I have been testing out a few strategies to make my work-life feel more controllable than it has been lately. Here are a few of my tips and findings that I can share with you!

remove-distractions-stay-focused

My tips for single-tasking mastery:

  1. Set your goals for tomorrow, today before you leave work. You know exactly where you left off, so now you can set and plan out your tomorrow with things you need to get done by the end of the next day. Many successful people (what is success, anyways) will tell you not to check email first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I agree with that, but also will add that setting your tomorrow up, today while you’re still at work is probably the best gift you can give yourself. While your mind is already in work-mode and you are about to head out, it’s the best time to effectively plan tomorrow without forgetting anything. Plus, it’s the perfect way to wind down the day, leaving you in a good mental place knowing you have a plan to attack tomorrow.
  2. Plan for only one day ahead. Instead of trying to plan what I was going to do tomorrow, this weekend, and even Wednesday of next week, I changed my approach to only plan tomorrow’s day. This doesn’t mean I am not thinking ahead. I am very aware of projects that I have a week out, by by focusing on just the next day, I strategically stay focused on the tasks at hand and then everything falls into place perfectly. This is because I know exactly what I need to do today to set the next day up for success, and on it goes.
  3. Do not put off roadblocks that prevent you from accomplishing your day’s priorities. Today, I had a goal of completing a specific client presentation. In reading the tasks and the information I was asked to report on, I didn’t agree with some of the specific details I was asked to provide. The person I needed to chat with was off-site for the rest of the day. Instead of waiting or putting it off, I booked a quick chat with my Manager, chatted through a game plan or some options and completed the presentation to what I felt was a better way to display the information. I sent a followup email to the original requester and laid out the reasons as to why I disagreed and then presented the alternative solution, including a link to the modified presentation. Chances are, they aren’t going to want to change it all after I’ve completed it.
  4. Block out your time and designate parts of your things to specific tasks. Nothing sets you up for failure like failing to plan out your day – not just what you’ll do, but when. Every evening before I leave work, I take a look at the next day’s calendar and my task list. I then block off chunks of my available time and designate them to specific tasks (10-11:30 AM, work on client presentation, 3-3:30 check emails last time for the day & respond immediately to urgent ones). In the times when  I am pinged on Google Hangouts, Slack or in-person for something that requires my attention and wasn’t planned for, I try to ask the urgency level and push it off until the next day when I can plan time to designate to that specific need/ask, etc. I can’t always do this because some things are just URGENT, but I am trying to get better about respecting my time and priorities and putting off things that can wait until the following day when I am clear headed and can focus on those items.
  5. Listen to classical music. This is a completely acceptable distraction that contrarily has proven to help increase focus on tasks, believe it or not. Not only that, but it helps eliminate environmental distractions like coworkers chatting, dogs barking, music playing from the loud speakers, laughter, etc.
  6. Speaking of distractions – silence them all, if you can. Slack, Hangouts, etc. Turn off your phone notifications or better yet, put the phone away. I just started recently keeping my phone in my purse in my filing cabinet when I have tasks that need all of my mental energy, and it completely helps! Even when my phone is out, but I don’t check it, it’s still such a mental distraction knowing it’s there, seeing it there, and wondering if I am potentially missing some urgent message.

What are your thoughts on these? Have you found any that help you stay focused and commit to one task at a time? Feel free to share and comment below, would love to hear how others are working this strategy into their daily work lives!

Stay focused, my friends.