27 September 2023

Time off: Why working weekends can be weekends wasted

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Working on weekends isn’t working sensibly or even leading to greater productivity says Travis Bradberry* who explains why…

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.

One study shows that they are on to something.

It found that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours.

It drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working anymore.

People who work as much as 70 hours (or more) per week actually get the same amount done as people who work 55 hours.

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

The following are some things that you can do to find balance on the weekend and come into work at 100 per cent on Monday morning.


The most important weekend strategy.

If you can’t find a way to remove yourself electronically from your work on Friday evening, 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 e-mails and responding to voicemails.

Scheduling short blocks of time will alleviate stress without sacrificing availability.

Minimise chores:

Chores have a habit of completely taking over your weekends.

When this happens, you lose the opportunity to relax and reflect.

What’s worse is that a lot of chores feel like work, and if you spend all weekend doing them, you just put in a seven-day work-week.

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.


You have 48 hours every weekend to make this 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.

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

While you’re out in the ocean, the combination of invigorating activity and beautiful scenery creates the perfect environment for an influx of creativity.

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


Weekly reflection is a powerful tool for improvement.

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

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.

Schedule micro-adventures:

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

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 come Saturday, but it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

Wake up at the same time:

It’s tempting to sleep in on the weekend.

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

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.

If you need to catch up on sleep, just go to bed earlier.

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 upcoming week:

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

The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan because all you have to focus on is execution.

* Travis Bradberry is the co-founder of TalentSmart, a provider of emotional intelligence tests, emotional intelligence training, and emotional intelligence certification. He can be contacted at TalentSmart.com.

This article first appeared on the TalentSmart website

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