Someone’s gotta say it: weekends are fucking great. As much as I love my job, weekends are always welcome in this house. I love making big dinners and pies with my boyfriend, deciding to marathon an entire season of a TV show because we can, taking long walks to the library or movie theater, going to game nights, and getting a little work done because I feel like it, not because I have to right this moment.
That being said, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to Sunday night and thought, Shit. I did literally nothing I was planning to do this weekend. I often end my Friday afternoons making a lofty list of everything I want to accomplish over the next two days, then fail to cross more than one or two things off before Monday morning. I love having those days to myself (thanks, Industrial Revolution!), but because they are just for me, I tend to shirk the responsibilities I sign myself up for. When something I need to do has no effect on other people, it becomes much easier for me to keep putting it off indefinitely.
This weekend, Peter is heading out of town on a work retreat, and I have the whole apartment (and all my time) to myself. I’ve never lived alone — I went through all of college and my first three years in New York living with roommates, and then moved in with Peter. These infrequent weekends alone are the times I feel like I get to experience the “single girl living alone” portion of my life I always imagined for myself, but ended up skipping over. (Though it’s not a period I regret missing out on at the moment, especially for financial reasons.) Every time one of these weekends happens, I excitedly plan a bunch of things I’m going to do by myself: go to a yoga class, see a silly movie, read the book that’s been sitting on my nightstand, get a ton of writing done, do some crafting. And every single time, without fail, I end up doing the same exact thing: feel desperately bored at the idea of being all by myself for so long and resort to marathoning Sex and the City (again), playing card games on my phone, and eating cheese and crackers all weekend.
Now don’t get me wrong — I love both SATC and cheese and crackers. I am a relatively introverted person, and spending a night enjoying those things together definitely falls under the umbrella of “my idea of a good time.” But if I spend my whole weekend doing that, I just end up feeling…a little icky. I need more social interaction than I sometimes give myself credit for, but because I spend so much time at home (due to often working from home), anything that forces me out of the house can feel like a much bigger chore than it actually is. And yet, when I don’t leave the house, or at least get a bunch of house-related projects and/or work done, I end up feeling like my entire weekend went to waste. (Yes, my life is Drama.)
Suffice it to say, this habit is not a great one. But I’ve recently been implementing some simple-yet-effective rules to help me get through the weekends without feeling like I’ve wasted them, but still letting myself lean into my lazy moments the way I can’t the rest of the week. If you have a rule like this of your own, I’d love to hear about it!
1. Tack small and big chores onto something actually fun.
I aspire to one day be the kind of person who finds cleaning 100% thrilling and stress-relieving. But as much as I love a clean apartment, and have gotten better about my clutter-prone habits, I’m just not there yet. So, I’ll force myself to do something patently un-fun (like folding laundry or dusting) and do it while doing something a lot more fun (listening to my favorite funny podcast or watching some reality TV). If I have an errand to run, I’ll also make a plan to pair it with something I don’t dread so much, like specifically going to the post office that’s right next door to the good wine shop.
2. Sleep the right amount for your body, not someone else’s.
The importance of sleep can’t really be overstated, but let’s face it: the idea that being a “morning person” makes you better or more productive than anyone else is bullshit. There’s no reason we shouldn’t all be leaning into the parts of our days when we actually have the most energy rather than trying to mold ourselves into unnatural-for-us rhythms. (Of course, there are exceptions; I can’t speak for parents, caretakers, or people whose jobs keep them awake at hours they’d prefer not to be.) Additionally, some people are genetically predestined to need more sleep than others. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a morning person, and during the workweek, I am. I get up several hours before I actually have to start working because those are the most productive for me. But on weekends, if I try to set an alarm before 9 AM, I often end up hitting the snooze button repeatedly — resulting in an hour or two of interrupted and unsatisfying sleep to start my day. To me, a successful weekend is a restful one, and that means either not setting an alarm, or setting one for a time I know I’ll actually want to wake up. If that means not setting it until 9:30 because I’m going to bed after midnight and I want a solid nine hours, so be it.
3. Tackle just one thing you’ve been putting off in the morning.
On the other hand, it is really nice to get a few things out of the way earlier so that I can relax the rest of my day without feeling guilty for ignoring things I need to get done. Since I tend to be a more efficient worker in the mornings, I’ll usually wake up on Saturdays and bust out an article for a freelance client, or copyedit a few posts to run on Monday. I’m also more likely to exercise during the weekends if I go to a 9 or 10 AM class. If I wait until later in the day, I’ll just find some excuse to skip what I’d been planning. As long as I do just one thing that’s necessary or straight-up good for me, the rest of the day will feel actually restful.
4. Grocery shop on Saturday instead of Sunday.
This one is simple, and also falls into the category of “getting stuff done earlier in the weekend so I don’t have to think about it.” No one is at the grocery store on Saturday afternoons, but Sundays at my local shop are super packed, all day long. If I put off shopping until Sunday, I dread doing it the entire day, then inevitably end up spending twice as long at the store and coming home annoyed. So, an easy fix: just don’t do it!
5. Make a few specific plans.
When I was in college, I almost never made plans. I’d always depend on figuring out something to do at the last minute, either with my roommate or a few other friends. But as I’ve gotten older and become more adjusted to “real life,” I’ve found that I actually need plans in place in order to make myself do things. One little truth I’ve learned is that life is much better if you have things to look forward to, whether that’s simply your best friend coming over to make dinner, or making sure you always have a weekend getaway on the books. Also, if I don’t make plans with anyone over my weekends, I easily end up seeing no one (besides Peter) for two days straight. Making plans with another person holds me accountable so that I actually get myself out of the house, and not feel like I’ve wasted away two days just sitting on my couch.
6. Keep a “treat yourself” arsenal at home to satisfy impulse cravings.
I love ordering takeout, but I try to make those nights as few and far between as possible, so as not to slip back into my old over-ordering habit. If I have “treat” foods at home that are super easy to prepare, like frozen potstickers or veggie burgers, I’m much less likely to pick up my phone and go straight to my Seamless app. I also make sure to always be stocked up on baking supplies. I do bake pies often, but when I’m home alone, I’d rather make a quick microwaveable dessert for myself, like this sugar cookie in a mug. That way, I can satisfy my *ample* sweet tooth without over-indulging (or over-spending).
7. Change your clothes right when you wake up.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find that my weekends tend to be least fulfilling when I spend the entire time in the pajamas I’d put on Friday night. I’m not saying I get up an put on an ~outfit~ right away (unless I’m going out to the occasional brunch or something), but I do change into something lounge-y, like a sports bra and a pair of yoga pants. That way, I’ll at least feel like I’ve set the tone for a *new* day, rather than just a continuation of my Friday night. Even if I’ve decided to spend the whole day at home and not bother showering, it’s a wonder what kind of tone-change clean clothes can provide. I’ll feel much more in the zone to get a little writing (or just some vacuuming) done.
8. Don’t make an aspirational to-do list that you’ll never stick to.
Finally, this is the rule I’ve struggled most with following. I end every workday by making a to-do list for the next day, and on Fridays, I used to always make a giant list of things I wanted to accomplish over the weekend, both work- and chore-related. But I’ve learned that putting boundaries around my time goes just as much for me as it does for anyone else. If I get a sudden wave of energy and feel like getting a bunch of work done on a Saturday morning, awesome! But if I don’t, that’s okay, too. I’ve learned that I feel a lot better about myself — and my weekend — if I make a manageable list of three or four things I know I can get done. I’ll put one work item on my weekend list, and leave everything else on my list for Monday. That way, I can lighten my load a bit for the week ahead, but still have most of the weekend entirely to myself.
Holly is the Managing Editor of The Financial Diet. Follow her on Twitter here, or send her your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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