Want to be more productive? Tried and true advice often includes making detailed lists, setting aside blocks of time, and minimizing distractions, but when it comes to the weekend, productivity experts say those tasks can and should go out the window.
"One of the best ways to actually be primed for a great week ahead is to take the time to recharge," says Lori Scherwin, founder of the management and productivity consulting firm Strategize That. "When we enjoy our weekends, we go back to work refreshed, focused, and feeling more balanced and less resentful."
During the week, we look to company policies that help us with work-life balance, but on the weekend, you’re in control. Here are five things you should do to set yourself up for a productive workweek:
Issues that you face and problems that you have will still be on your desk Monday morning, says Debbie Good, clinical assistant professor of business administration at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business.
And leaving work at work has an added benefit of time and perspective: "If you do have issues to resolve and are unsure how to handle them, sleep on it for the weekend," she says. "Just like when you have writer’s block and sleep on it and the next morning the words just flow, so too will the resolutions to your problems if you step away from them for the weekend."
The optimal amount of sleep for energy and wellness is seven to eight hours each night, according to the study published in the medical journal Sleep, but more than 40% of adults report are getting less than that each night.
We’re not getting sufficient rest, and that affects our productivity, says Good. "Work on getting your six to eight hours on the weekend," she says. "You will find yourself refreshed and ready to be productive come Monday morning."
Weekends are the time for high-quality recharging activities, says productivity coach Nicole Bandes. "This may look like a favorite hobby or even vegging out in front of the TV, as long as it is done with intention," she says. "Taking time for ourselves allows us to feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more prepared to take on the week to come."
Vacations rejuvenate us, adds Good. "Let each weekend be a mini-vacation. It will relax you and make you ready to return to a productive workweek," she says.
Spending time with family and friends will often give you an added boost; the people we care about are often a refuge, says Good. "They refresh us and make us ready to face another week of work," she says.
While recharging is the point of weekends, you will set up your week for success by creating a plan, says Bandes. "What will you accomplish this week that will move you toward your personal and professional goals?" she asks. "Without a great plan, it is easy to get overwhelmed and fall into reaction mode instead of being proactive with your time."
Keep yourself on track for productivity throughout the week by taking 30 minutes on Sunday night to set goals for the week, suggests Sam McIntire, founder of Deskbright, an online learning platform that teaches work skills.
"Write these goals down on a Post-it note or piece of paper that's clearly visible from your desk," he says. "And when you find yourself wandering or spending time nonproductively, return to your list to remind yourself what you should be working on. Oftentimes, the simple act of writing down goals helps direct your attention and keeps you sharp all day long."
Scherwin prefers taking an hour on Friday afternoon to plan for the next week rather than letting this task spill into the weekend. "It may sound counterintuitive, but it works so well—tune out of work so that you ultimately tune in better," she says.
Weekday activities are often "deep in the weeds," managing the day-to-day and measuring time in hours or days, but weekends are a great time to pull back, says Frances Schagen, founder of the online networking community Business Owners Success Club.
"Think in terms of months, even years," she says. "We have to continually remember why we are doing what we are doing. We can only do long-range strategic thinking when we think in longer time scales."
Schagen recommends combining long-term planning with short-term leisure by going for a hike while thinking strategically from a high-level perspective. In fact, a study done at Stanford University found that walking boosts creative thinking.