How do you distinguish between your working week and your weekends?  

It seems like a silly question; you may be busy, but not so busy that you can’t keep track of what day it is. Assuming you work a traditional schedule, the weekend always comes at the same time each week. 

But what I want to know is:

  • How does your mindset change between your working week and your weekend?
  • How does your behavior change?
  • Do you experience a noticeable shift between being in work mode and personal mode? 

More and more, our businesses and our work responsibilities have blended into our personal lives.

You can respond to a client’s email from the sidelines of a child’s soccer game, or schedule a Sunday morning hike around a Zoom call with your team. There’s so much on your plate that it seems like the work week doesn’t include enough time to get it all done. The only way to stay on track, and make sure you aren’t overwhelmed at the start of a new week, is to sacrifice some of your off time for work.   

I get it. I’ve been there myself, and I’ve seen my clients struggle with feeling able to reserve their weekends for themselves. If you’re really overwhelmed with everything on your plate right now, the idea of taking two full days off from work might seem really unrealistic.  

So how about 24 hours? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to reserve at least 24 hours in a row, once each week, when you were completely in weekend mode and able to completely unplug from work? 

Weekends are Essential For Time Management 

It’s something I repeat often: taking time off from work is absolutely critical for productivity and good time management. Breaks are restorative for our physical and mental health… yet when you’re really stressed and over scheduled, breaks are often the first thing to go. You may stay up later and get up earlier to create more time. You wolf down meals, skip small talk with your loved ones and just plow ahead, focused on checking off the next task on the to-do list.  

If you’ve been in that place, you know how stressful it is. How hard it is to feel like you’re being present as a spouse, parent or friend because you’re always distracted and juggling a dozen things. This has been especially tough during the pandemic, when there are even more barriers interfering with good time management and productivity. We’ve been living with constant stress for months and months. Taking breaks is like opening a release valve and letting some of that stress out before you explode. 

So, yes, taking weekends off from work is important for good time management.

Or, if you can’t take a whole weekend, taking off at least 24 hours in a row. But I want you to know that your time off won’t be truly time off if you spend it anxiously envisioning emails piling up in your inbox.  

For a break to be truly restorative, mindset matters. Your attitude about an impending weekend can have a big effect on how you experience that break. Researchers at UCLA, working with 500 participants, gave the group instructions on a Friday. Half were told to treat the weekend like normal, while the other half were told to think and behave as if they were on vacation. On Monday, participants rated their happiness levels on a 1-7 scale. The vacation-mindset group had a mean score 5.24; the regular weekenders had a 4.83 mean score. Approaching the weekend with an expectation that it would be relaxing helped people make that a reality.   

Here’s the takeaway. For optimal time management and productivity, you need to be able to take off at least 24 hours in a row each week, without spending that time worrying about what’s waiting for you when you get back. The missing piece is a planning system that lets you manage your week so you stay on top of everything and have the breathing room to really relax on the weekends.  

Keep Leaning on Your Support System!

The last few years have been filled with challenges that have been made more difficult because we’ve had to be isolated from one another. Reaching out for support is so important, especially when you feel like you’re alone in your struggles. I promise that you’re not.  

Join me, and a community of other professionals struggling with the same things you’re struggling with, for Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day Virtual Program. My online productivity and time management training is designed to help busy professionals defeat the challenges that hold them back. Join now and learn how to take control of your time and goals in a way that works for your brain and your life. 

Are you ready to take action to bring your work and personal life into balance? I hope you’ll join me for Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day Virtual ProgramClick here for details and registration.

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying a relaxing weekend—you’ve earned it! 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking