The Big Idea
Stretch time each weekend by making your days intentional
Questions I Answer
- How can I make the most of my weekend?
- How can I set better boundaries for work?
- What can I do to make my weekends feel longer?
- What are some strategies for setting boundaries?
Actions to Take
- Know the difference between hours of business and hours of availability. Business hours are times when you’re working and aren’t available to respond to people because you’re working on important tasks. Availability hours are for responding to emails and calls while you’re working.
- For to-do’s and chores, try compressing these into smaller blocks of time on your weekends. For example, schedule a few hours on Saturday morning for chores, then reward yourself with a nice lunch out or catch up on your favorite book/TV show.
Key Topics in the Show
How to cut back on weekend work, emails, texts, to-dos and more using my 5 easy and actionable strategies.
Learn to consistently make the most of your weekends by streamlining Saturday and Sunday for success.
See what the newest research and studies say about how our brain, health and productivity are affected by working weekends.
Steps to creating good habits on the weekend so that you work less and spend more time on the right tasks and people.
Why you need to create hours of availability and hours of business (and the big difference between the two!)
Resources and Links
- Listen to Episode 025: Take Back Your Fridays: Taking Back Your Fridays for tips on what to do with your Fridays.
- Tips for Making the Most of Your Weekend:Take back your Fridays: Take care of tasks and anything else that will get you ready for Monday. Use Friday to ease into your weekend. Listen to Episode 025 to get the best tips on exactly what to do every Friday to set yourself up for success.
- Create pre-written texts/emails: For times when your boss or co-workers contact you on weekends, you’ll have already written out responses and will be able to hit send with only a few modifications to the message. This sets boundaries and trains people to know when you’re available.
- Enlist the help of your family: Have your family and friends keep you accountable. Ask them remind you that you’re not supposed to be working on the weekends if they see you replying to emails, texts, etc.
- Keep a running to-do list: As you go through your weekend and have ideas pop into your head or remember things you need to get done for work, simply write them down in a notepad, planner or piece of paper so that you don’t forget and can revisit on Monday.
- Remember what it’s all for: Stop borrowing from today to make tomorrow great. We tell ourselves, “If I work hard now, I’ll get to enjoy myself eventually. I’m going to work like a dog for these first 10 years, and then I’m really going to enjoy myself after that.” I want to encourage you to enjoy the moment you’re in.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 26. Today, we are talking about making the most of your weekend. We all look forward to the weekend, right? Except a lot of times we get to Sunday evening and we think, “Where did my weekend go,” or “I spent the entire weekend working and now I’m exhausted and I’m not ready for Monday.” I really want to have you feel like your weekends are for restoring, and they can be. You can really take advantage and make the most out of your weekend, but only if you plan for them. I think the idea that you’re not going to work at all on the weekend is not realistic. There’s going to be times when you’re going to need to work on the weekend. It’s just something you need to do.
When people tell you, “You shouldn’t work at all on the weekends,” I just don’t feel like that’s really real. It’s not really realistic. For people who love to work, like me, it’s okay to find some time to spend on work tasks. It’s really all about the harmony. If
you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, you know I believe balance is bogus. It is because if it was really balanced, instead of having five days of work and two days at home, we would spend three-and-a-half days working really hard and three-and-a-half days relaxing and doing all the fun stuff at home, but we don’t. Instead, we need to create harmony in our life by keeping our work typically in an eight-hour work schedule per day, five days a week. That’s the compartment for work.
The rest of our time is then compartmentalized into necessities, sleep, chores, errands, and downtime. If we don’t make a plan for that downtime or we don’t use it to push our goals forward, then we run the risk of getting out of harmony because we allow work or necessities to bleed into that time. There’s a counterbalance that’s needed here. It’s that same idea that we’ve talked about over the last few episodes of looking at your weeks as 168 hours versus looking at them day-by-day in 24-hour increments. Yes, you want to spend the majority of your weekends in home mode, which is a combination of downtime and home necessities, but there’s going to be working weekends and nonworking weekends. You just want to make sure that you have that harmony overall.
Now, working weekends tend to leave you drained, and they don’t give your brain the needed downtime that it requires to reset for the week ahead so that way you’re ready to do on Monday morning. A nonworking weekend leaves you more energized. You feel ready for the week ahead. You’re ready to tackle everything you need to do during your work week. How do you do this? How do you find this harmony? One of the things that I do because I do have periods in my work schedule where I do need to work more on the weekends. One of the things I do is I bring my
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family into the work sphere. I find that harmony by having my family work alongside me. I try to make it fun for them.
Now, as you know, John is a part of my business. You hear his voiceover at the beginning of this podcast, and he is the co-owner of Inkwell Press with me. I also include the rest of my family in what I do. My kids come up to my studio. They help make boxes. They work to do some prep work for some of the planners and things like that. I make them a real, significant part of the business. That helps in two ways. It helps me get to spend time with them, but then it also helps them feel like they are a part of that business. They’re able to understand when I am really busy, they feel like it’s their business too. That’s one of the things that I do. It’s really important that I don’t work every single weekend.
Yes, I do have some times where I’m working Saturday and Sunday, but we really need to make sure that we’re giving our bodies the time off it needs. You can’t do that all of the time. We often say that we’re going to rest when we have a vacation, but vacation is really only temporary. Studies show that the benefits of vacation actually fade within two to four weeks, which suggests the importance of regularly taking a break from work on the weekends. Why do our bodies need time off? Well, your brain needs a break. It needs room to play. Work is obviously very brain oriented, and just like any other muscle, you need to give it a break for a few days. When you’re relaxing, your brain doesn’t stop working altogether, but the downtime does replenish its attention span. It encourages productivity and creativity.
Not thinking about work can actually help you solve some of your problems. Our brains get the best ideas when we’re relaxed and when it’s releasing dopamine, which is triggered by things like exercise, listening to music, taking a warm shower,
the things that we have time to do on the weekends. It’s really important to give your brain a break. Your health overall is also really important, and high stress from working all the time can result in so many different health issues. Your body needs that downtime. We’ve all heard that saying that sitting is the new smoking. It’s good to get out of your desk chair and get your body moving. It’s also important to make sure that you are spending time with your relationships with other people.
The significant people in your life need time with you, your partner, your close friends. Both of those types of people are really important. You need a supportive partner at your side, but if you’re not supportive back, they’re not likely to stick around and be supportive for much longer. Studies actually show that having a conscientious partner not only pushes you to career success, but it also keeps life outside of work operating smoothly and friendships are important too because they make you happy. Social connection is one of the greatest predictors of happiness. The other reason why we really need to take time off is my favorite, taking time off makes you more productive.
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A report from the Business Roundtable showed that working 60-hour weeks for two months caused a decrease in productivity equivalent to just having worked 40-hour workweeks in the first place. Well that feels like a loss, doesn’t it? If you work 60-hour weeks, but really you’re only getting 40 hours worth of work done, those 20 hours is a lot of time that you could be spending in other ways. We talked about this earlier in the season. Happiness brings about success. It’s not the other way around. It can be hard not working on the weekends. I totally get that. I have a hard time sometimes not working on the weekend. We do that because we think of it as a productivity high. We feel like we’re maximizing our time and that makes us feel happy.
Recently a study came out where they did a study on a group of 500 employed individuals, who were asked to describe four different experiences, a time where they felt productive, a time they felt very busy, a time they felt unproductive, or not busy at all. When people wrote about the time they felt productive, they reported feeling at their best and happiest with life, more so than in any other condition. This data suggests that by feeling productive, we feel like we’re making some sort of difference, so we trick ourselves into believing that by not taking breaks on the weekends, we’re becoming more productive. We also feel obligated just to keep at it. We look around. We think everybody else is busy. We need to be busy too.
It’s not about the quantity of the work. It’s not about the hours you’re putting in. It’s about the quality. Quality beats quantity every single time. The sad statistics show that 81% of employed Americans check their work email on the weekends. 55% of employed Americans check their email inboxes after 11 o’clock at night. One-third of employed Americans say they respond to emails at work within 15 minutes. We’re setting these expectations for ourselves and for our workplace. We really need to step back and think about how we really want to spend our time. How do we make the most out of our weekend? Well, as with all things that have to do with productivity, it’s all about the prep.
Ending Friday well is the first tip I can give you, and we had a whole episode last week, episode 25 where we talked about taking Fridays off or making it feel like Friday was the day that you were saving up for those big tasks that you really look forward to. I want to encourage you again to end Friday well. Take care of anything that will help you start Monday off on the right foot. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I would encourage you to give it a quick listen. It’s a 20-minute episode, and I think you’ll get a lot out of it. The second thing we can do is to train others. We had talked about how to handle an overbearing boss on the weekends, but if your coworkers are also sending you work-related things over the weekend, it’s time to start training them not to do that.
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Tell them in advance that you’re not available or you’ll only be available during certain hours. People will respect the boundaries that you set, but they don’t know better unless you set them. They don’t know about these boundaries, so they just assume that it’s okay to shoot you a quick text or an email because if you’re responding, you’re showing them that you don’t have boundaries. Here’s a quick tip, set up a pre-written text. If you tend to get a lot of work texts over the weekend, just save it in your notes, and then you can copy and paste it and hit send without having to worry about it. Your little pre-written text could say something like, “Today’s a text free day for me. I’ll respond in more detail on Monday.” That helps them see your boundary.
Once they see the boundaries, they’re able to really step around them. It might take a time or two of doing it or three or even four times, but eventually they’re going to see those boundaries and they’ll start to respect them. The third thing you can do is enlist the help of your family. Sometimes we all need a gentle push in the right direction. I know that I do. If you’re having trouble not working on the weekends, even when you have the best intentions not to, try asking your partner or your roommate or your friends to give you a little reminder when they do catch you working. Not nagging, not getting into an argument, just a little training, just a little tap on your shoulder like, “Hey, I thought you weren’t going to work this weekend” and see if that’ll help.
Sometimes we have these habits. We have these scripts we’ve told ourselves that, “While I work on Saturdays, I do this,” and it’s hard to change. Sometimes you need the help of someone else to give you that gentle nudge. Another thing you can do is keep a running to-do list handy. When you’re going through your weekend and these ideas pop up or these thoughts about what you could do about and work, you can quickly note any of these items or ideas that you think of so they’re not taking up brain space. That way, once you’ve had this brainstorm, this brilliant idea, you’ve written it down, and you can move on. Then on Monday, you can look on it and move forward on it. This will keep you from stewing on this idea or really thinking about it all weekend long.
Then the last thing you can do is remember what it’s all for. Stop borrowing from today to make tomorrow great. We tell ourselves, “If I work hard now, I’ll get to enjoy myself eventually. I’m going to work like a dog for these first 10 years, and then I’m really going to enjoy myself after that.” I want to encourage you to enjoy the moment you’re in. The time you have with those you love is short, so take advantage of it today. Don’t think that you have lots of time in the future. Really take advantage of what’s happening today. Now, I will say, there are going to be weekends where you have to work. I told you that I have working weekends sometimes and nonworking weekends. I try to have a lot more nonworking weekends than I do working ones.
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What if you do have to work on the weekend? Well, if you must work and answer email, try setting aside one hour or less for Saturday or Sunday to get that done. Then you can unplug the rest of the weekend. Now, I would encourage you to do that on Sunday evening rather than Saturday. That way, people don’t have time to respond on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning and then you feel the need to respond again and then you have this back and forth. I recommend setting aside a little bit of time to respond to those emails, or don’t send the emails at all. Instead, just write a draft and then hit send first thing on Monday morning. There’s even apps that you can use to schedule those emails so they do shoot out on Monday morning. That helps people understand your hours of availability.
I want to take a minute to talk to you about the hours of availability versus your hours of business. Your hours of availability are the hours that you say you’re available to be contacted. You can be contacted through a phone or email or whatever it is that works for you. You’re typically working during these hours as well, so these are also business hours, but people can easily get in touch with you during this time if they need to, and you respond in a timely fashion. Now, hours of business are times that you’re working, but you’re not necessarily available to others. If you’re doing a split shift, say you like to work early in the morning and then late at night, this could be the time you spend working. If you work for a block of time on the weekend on your important tasks but you’re not going to be responding to emails, those are your hours of business, but they’re not your hours of availability.
There’s a difference there, and I want you to really think about that. When are your hours of business versus your hours of availability. They’re not the same thing. Your hours of business should be the time that you’re being productive, but your hours of availability are where you’re productive and really driving goals forward. This is the time that’s set aside to work on important tasks and not be distracted by responding to people who are emailing or calling. Now we’ve talked about how we can create some strategies so you can have the time on your weekend. What do you want to do with this time? How do you want to make your weekend more enjoyable? I love what Laura Vanderkam says. She says, “There are 60 hours between that six o’clock Friday beer and the six AM Monday morning alarm clock.” 60 hours for you to spend the way that you want and really that’s what it’s all about. It’s really up to you.
What are the things you want to do? Who are the people you really want to spend time with? What are the activities that bring you joy? Now, I know it’s always overwhelming to start with an empty sheet of paper, so I have a download to help you decide what you want to do with your weekends. You can access that at inkwellpress.com/podcast and look under episode 26. In the resources section, you’ll see the download that I have created for you to help you walk through how you want to spend your weekends. I want to encourage you to do a couple things. First of all, plan it around what’s important. Use part of your week to make plans for your
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weekend. Anticipate them during the rest of your week, and then actually have fun on the weekend. Instead of wondering where the time went or doing nothing, I really want you to plan it out.
Sometimes it’s really the thinking about the events to come that’s half the enjoyment, right? Think about when you have a vacation coming and how much anticipating that vacation really encourages you to push while you’re at work. One thing that I do is I set aside time on Thursday nights for weekend planning. John and I sit down. We talk about what we want to get accomplished during our weekend, what are our priorities for that weekend, and then we plan it out. Don’t fill every single minute. I want you to think about planning for three, maybe five events that you look forward to. Five’s a lot though. We think we want to do nothing all weekend long, but it’s not possible to do nothing. Boredom starts to kick in, and then we don’t know what else to do, so we work. Then on Sunday, we wonder, “What happened to our weekend? I spent my whole weekend working.” That’s what I want you to avoid.
By planning it out and giving yourself three to five events you’re really looking forward to, you’re going to avoid that trap. Try thinking ahead. Maybe make a bucket list of activities you’d like to try that are within a two-hour radius of your house. This
could be things like biking or camping, going to a nearby park, taking a class, whatever it is that you think would be fun that’s within a two-hour radius of where you live. Then when you’re doing your planning, choose a couple things from that list to do this weekend and make your plans. You might want to consider making new traditions or special activities that you only do on the weekends. Things like Sunday morning pancakes or Friday night pizza night, movie night, getting brunch after church, family nap time. Hey, I like that one.
Think about what are things you want to do, and you can even avoid that blue feeling that a lot of people get on Sunday nights by scheduling something fun during that time. You can start a new tradition of having a big Sunday night dinner with family or having a class, doing a volunteer activity, something that you look forward to. My family usually does a nice Sunday dinner, and then we have Sunday family meeting where we all work together to plan our week. We all pull out our planners. We talk about what everyone’s doing. It’s a touchpoint for my family to work together so that we are all keeping each other on track for our goals. My kids are involved in that, and that really helps us all work together to keep on track with where we want to be as a family and helps us push our family mission even further.
I want to encourage you too to take the time on your weekends to make and strengthen your connections with people. We know social connections are the greatest indicator of happiness, so make a commitment to the important people in your life and leave time open for them on the weekend. Try making a list of the people you really want to spend your time with on the weekends. Spoiler alert, it’s
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probably not your boss or the things you’re having to do for work. That’s going to be part of the download too. It’s all about being present. Plan out your blocks to work during the week, and on the weekend, find the time to do the fun activities because it’s really important that you find the things that are important to you. There will still be chores. There will still be things that you have to do on the weekends that aren’t on your fun list, but just create smaller blocks of time for that type of work so you can fully relax and be in the moment during your work-free blocks of times.
Try compressing chore time into these little, smaller blocks of specific time. My assistant, Liz, is really smart, and she does something that I think is really clever. On the weekends, she generally puts her chores and errands on Saturday mornings because then she goes and rewards herself by grabbing a nice lunch to eat at home while catching up on a show that she enjoys. She gives herself a small window that motivates her to get these things out of the way so she’s able to move on to the fun things. That’s what I want for you. That’s going to be possible if you prep and plan ahead. Now, I want to encourage you to get the download. You can find that at inkwellpress.com/podcast under episode 26. We’ll walk you through how you can really maximize your weekend. It’s going to be a fun little worksheet that you can work on by yourself or work on it with your partner or your roommate or your family because I want you to really think about spending the time on what matters most to you.
Now, episode 26 marks the end of season two, and season two as you know has been all about editing and streamlining. I am beyond excited for where we are going for season three, and we will have that for you starting next week. In the meantime, I would love to connect with you. You can find me on social media, using the username at Inkwell Press. You can find me at inkwellpress.com/podcast as well. All right, until next time, happy planning.
**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.
Tanya Dalton is a productivity keynote speaker and time management expert. She is a woman on a mission to help other women set goals, find purpose and live with intention.