How To Reclaim Your Weekends Without Sacrificing Work Performance

The elusive weekend off: something that more and more employees are kissing goodbye in favor of high job performance.

The catch-22 of working through the weekend is that allowing your work hours to bleed into downtime can negatively affect performance, rendering that extra effort moot. 

The better option is to maximize your productivity at the office and actively unwind on the weekend, safeguarding your health, sanity, and performance. 

Whether you are an employee working in a fast-paced corporate office or an entrepreneur carving out your own schedule, today’s American workforce culture is to never stop moving. 

A survey by Enterprise Rent-A-Car reported that 67% of a sample of Americans aged 25 and older worked on the weekends. Research shows that this never-offline mindset negatively affects our productivity and quality of work. 

With a combination of time management tools at the office and clear boundaries away from the office, you can maximize your productivity while allowing yourself to indulge in some much-needed downtime.

Set Yourself up for Success During the Work Week

Identify Your Limits

There are only so many hours in a day. Reflecting on your upper limit regarding work capacity will do wonders as you carve out your schedule for the week. 

While wandering through those deep caverns of your brain, why not do some analysis on times during the day when you are most productive? If you’re a morning person, eat that frog! If you’re more of an afternoon person, schedule your meetings first and your Deep Work time later. 

Schedule Time for Emails

A day can quickly get eaten up by constantly checking and responding to emails. Do yourself a favor and carve out a specific time in your day to address your inbox and mute notifications during the rest of the day. 

Single Task

The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a study that highlighted the adverse effects of multitasking. APA notes that “…even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of someone’s productive time.” 

Instead of shifting your focus between multiple tasks simultaneously, try time blocking to ensure your undivided attention can be committed to the task at hand.

Move Your Body

Make a point of getting away from your desk and shaking the cobwebs off at least once daily. Call the movement a Booster Break, and use it as an opportunity to get your body moving for 15 minutes during your work day. 

Studies have shown that Booster Breaks improve physical and psychological health, enhance job satisfaction, and sustain or increase work productivity.

Not interested in working up a sweat in your business attire? Booster Breaks include stretching and rhythmic breathing too.

Get Adequate Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation suggests seven to nine hours as the ideal amount of sleep for adults. They cite sleep deprivation as impacting job performance by overworking the neurons in the brain. 

The overworked neurons result in slowed physical reaction timing, limited emotional bandwidth, and brain fog.

The Center for Disease Control reports that 30% of Americans get less than six hours of sleep per night. Aim for a safe zone of seven to nine hours of sleep to stay sharp during the work week.

Outline Your Tasks for the Week Ahead

You can’t always anticipate what will come across your desk on a Monday morning. You can avoid the weekend overthinking trap by taking time on Friday to outline what you expect to work on in the coming week. 

By spending 10 minutes on your Friday afternoon jotting down your priorities for the week to come, you allow the tasks to live on paper instead of in your brain. 

Activate Your Boundaries on the Weekend

Take Off Your Uniform

Replacing your work clothes with comfortable, casual attire on the weekends is a symbolic nod to the transition into time off work. “Enclothed Cognition” is the term used to describe this phenomenon; that clothes systematically influence the wearer’s psychological processes.

To help yourself subconsciously sign off of work on the weekends, shift your wardrobe to something different. 

This action is equally (if not more) necessary for folks who work from home. Separating “work time” from “downtime” while in the same location benefits from a psychological shift. 

Create Physical Barriers

Logging out, leaving your devices at the office, setting an out-of-office notice on your email: these are all physical acts you can do to create a weekday-weekend barrier for yourself.

For those battling guilt, temptation and anxiety over checking their email on the weekend, this one’s for you.

Set Time Limits

Sometimes the nature of your work will demand weekend availability. If this is the case, create time limits for yourself. 

Hold yourself accountable to these time limits by setting a timer or installing a screen time limiter on your devices. Be sure to communicate your weekend availability limits to clients, colleagues and managers before you shift your schedule to avoid any misunderstandings.

Let Go of “Caught Up”

The reality is that there are very few times in life when everything on a to-do list will be complete. There will always be tasks left outstanding, whether they are high-impact projects or mundane operational duties. 

Transitioning out of a work mindset over the weekend requires a psychological shift: accepting that there will always be something to do and acknowledging that taking time to recharge will enable you to do those things to the best of your ability. 

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This article was produced and syndicated by Career Step Up

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