27 September 2023

Relax — and be more productive

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Travis Bradberry* says as much as possible, weekends should be reserved for recreation and rejuvenating. He has some ideas on keeping work from intruding.

Some people have an uncanny ability to get things done.

They keep their nights and weekends sacred and still get more done than people who work 10 or 20 hours more per week than they do.

A recent study shows they are on to something.

It found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more.

Smart people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities.

They use their weekends to create a better week ahead.

This is easier said than done, so here’s some help. The following are some things that you can do to find balance on the weekend and come into work at 110 per cent on Monday morning.


Disconnecting is the most important weekend strategy.

If you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work Friday evening through Monday morning, then you’ve never really left work.

Making yourself available to your work 24/7 exposes you to a constant barrage of stressors that prevent you from refocusing and recharging.

If taking the entire weekend off isn’t realistic, try designating specific times on Saturday and Sunday for checking emails and responding to voicemails.

For example, check your messages on Saturday afternoon while your kids are getting a haircut and on Sunday evenings after dinner.

Minimise chores

Chores have a funny habit of completely taking over your weekends. When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect.

To keep this from happening, you need to schedule your chores like you would anything else during the week.

If you don’t complete them during the allotted time, you move on and finish them the following weekend.


No time to exercise during the week? You have 48 hours every weekend to make it happen.

Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a soothing neurotransmitter that reduces stress.

Exercise is also a great way to come up with new ideas. Innovators and other successful people know that being outdoors often sparks creativity.

I know that a lot of my best ideas come to me while I’m surfing.

Whether you’re running, cycling, or gardening, exercise leads to endorphin-fuelled introspection.

The key is to find a physical activity that does this for you and then to make it an important part of your weekend routine.


Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement.

Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organisation, and your job.

Without the distractions of Monday-to-Friday busy work, you should be able to see things in a whole new light.

Pursue a passion

You might be surprised what happens when you pursue something you’re passionate about on weekends.

Indulging your passions is a great way to escape stress and to open your mind to new ways of thinking.

Things like playing music, reading, writing, painting, or even playing catch with your kids can help stimulate different modes of thought that can reap huge dividends.

Spend quality time with family

This is essential if you want to recharge and relax.

Weekdays are so hectic that the entire week can fly by with little quality family time. Don’t let this bleed into your weekends.

Take your kids to the park, take your spouse to his or her favourite restaurant, and go visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.

Schedule micro-adventures

Buy tickets to a concert or play, or get reservations for that cool new hotel that just opened downtown.

Instead of running on a treadmill, plan a hike. Try something you haven’t done before or perhaps something you haven’t done in a long time.

Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun on Saturday, it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

Wake up at the same time

It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend to catch up on your sleep.

Though it feels good temporarily, having an inconsistent wake-up time disturbs your circadian rhythm.

Your body cycles through an elaborate series of sleep phases in order for you to wake up rested and refreshed.

One of these phases involves preparing your mind to be awake and alert, which is why people often wake up just before their alarm clock goes off.

When you sleep past your regular wake-up time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired.

This isn’t just disruptive to your day off, it also makes you less productive on Monday because your brain isn’t ready to wake up at your regular time.

Designate mornings as me time

It can be difficult to get time to yourself on the weekends, especially if you have family.

Finding a way to engage in an activity you’re passionate about first thing in the morning can pay massive dividends in happiness and cleanliness of mind.

It’s also a great way to perfect your circadian rhythm by forcing yourself to wake up at the same time you do on weekdays.

Prepare for the week ahead

The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your week.

As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress.

*Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the co-founder of TalentSmart. He can be contacted at talentsmart.com.

This article first appeared at talentsmart.com.

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