Most people do everything to avoid working weekends. They mow the lawn, sleep in, watch TV — anything but think about emails and sales goals.
For freelancers, entrepreneurs and others with never-ending responsibilities, unplugged weekends are rare. There is always a client to contact, a project to finish or a plan to review. However, no one can stay productive working every day. Research from John Pencavel at Stanford University discovered that people who work more than 55 hours a week get no significant boost from their efforts, regardless of whether they work 56 hours or 80. Other research suggests that occasional overtime isn’t bad, but when longer hours become regular, productivity slides backward.
Sometimes, though, a working weekend can’t be helped. When that happens, follow these tips to ensure you get the most from your extra effort.
Schedule your working hours.
If you go into the weekend with a vague promise to “get some work done,” you likely won’t achieve the results you want. Rather than wait for the moment you feel like working — which, on a weekend, might never come — set a schedule and stick to it.
When to work depends on your personal preferences. I like early mornings because research shows that we tend to be more productive before lunch. Not everyone is a morning person, though. As long as you schedule your work beforehand and follow through on your commitment, you’re on the right track.
Get the right amount of sleep.
If you want to have a productive Saturday, don’t stay up too late on Friday night. When Saturday rolls around, wake up on time and stick to the schedule you set for yourself.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleepper night. Most healthy people fall somewhere on that spectrum. Only you know what your body needs, though: If you feel sluggish after nine hours, set an earlier alarm. If seven hours feels wrong, give yourself some extra time. Try to keep a consistent schedule (both during the week and on the weekends) to ensure you get the proper amount of rest.
Define your goals beforehand.
When work piles up, you might be tempted to try to finish everything in one go. However, if you don’t set clear expectations for yourself, you could get distracted by other projects or frustrated by your lack of progress.
As you set your weekend work schedule, decide ahead of time which projects to prioritize, then tackle them one at a time. You might be eager to work on a budgetary issue, but if the budget meeting is Wednesday and the marketing meeting is Monday, start with the task that has more chronological urgency.
Take a break from technology.
Most weekend work in 2018 involves a computer. Rather than spend seven days a week in front of a screen, pick a day (or part of one) to unplug from technology. Play board games with your family, jot down ideas using pen and paper, go for a hike — whatever you like to do when your smartphone is off.
Stretch your technology break as long as possible. The average smartphone user checks his or her device about once every 6.5 minutes. The more time you spend away from the glowing rectangles of modern life, the more refreshed you will be when it’s time to get back to work.
The next time you need to work over the weekend, don’t let the time slip away from you before it even arrives. Weekends are the perfect time to catch up, but only if you use the opportunity wisely. Set your schedule, understand what you want to accomplish and stick to the plan so you can finish your work and squeeze in the relaxation you deserve.