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How Successful People Make The Best Use Of Their Weekends

How Successful People Make The Best Use Of Their Weekends

That old Loverboy song “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend” rings true for so many of us who give their all Monday through Friday, and just want to use Saturday and Sunday to catch up on some R&R. What a lot of us don’t realize is that spending Saturday and Sunday binge-watching Netflix or sleeping off hangovers is a complete waste of 2/7 of our life. The most successful people know that, even if they won’t be doing much “work” over the weekend, they still have to be productive if they want to stay ahead of the rest of the population. Rather than glue themselves to the couch watching reality TV all weekend, the hardest working among us choose to:

1. Plan

Successful individuals don’t go haphazardly into the weekend. They plan their day out just as they would any other. It might be a little more loosely-scheduled than a typical Tuesday, but with only so many hours in a week, successful people know they have to use all the free time they can get to accomplish the errands and tasks they need to accomplish. Without a plan, you’ll end up watching “just one more episode” of sitcom reruns before you realize it’s already 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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2. Get up early

Of course it feels good to sleep in, but it feels even better to have checked some tasks off your list before anyone else around you has gotten out of bed. It’s actually quite rejuvenating to get up and moving early on days you don’t have to. Starting your Saturday off by hitting the gym or reading a book will leave you feeling more refreshed than if you wasted an extra two or three hours laying in bed staring at the ceiling.

3. Unplug

In today’s busy, interconnected world, most of us never truly leave work at work. Our phones are likely connected to our email and Twitter accounts, meaning we can be bombarded with a work-related task even after the 5 p.m. whistle blows on Friday. But even the hardest working among us need time to let work go. Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, advocates taking a “tech Sabbath,” even for a couple hours over the weekend. Go fishing or hiking, visit a museum or library – and do so without your phone in your pocket. You’ll be amazed at how much more visceral the experience is.

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4. Exercise

During the week, you probably told yourself you were going to hit the gym at least once or twice. Then, life happened. While you can’t blame yourself for neglecting the gym because you needed to pick up your kids or your wife’s car broke down, the weekend is the perfect time to make up for lost opportunities. And if you can knock it off early in the day, doing so will absolutely kickstart your day and keep you motivated and moving throughout everything else you have planned for your time off.

5. Socialize

During the week, you may not have had time to eat dinner with your kids or take them out for ice cream. Don’t be that parent that’s so addicted to work that they neglect the people they are working to support. Plan fun activities to do as a family, and don’t forget about taking your spouse out for romantic dinner dates every once in a while. Make the time to meet up with friends and connect in more ways than just text messaging each other every few weeks. After all, what’s the point of life if you can’t enjoy it with the people you love?

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6. Follow passions and hobbies

Warren Buffet plays the ukelele. George W. Bush paints. Jay Leno is a car freak. Successful people use every minute of their free time doing something they love doing, because they know they’ll never get that time back. Even if your hobby requires hard work and dedication, if you’re passionate about it, you’ll still be relaxed and comfortable while working on it. Don’t waste precious time scrolling through Twitter when you could be learning a new song on piano. You never know when a simple hobby could turn into a life-long passion.

7. Embrace downtime and reflect

Of course, there are times you’ll need to sit quietly and let yourself just be. Career coach and author Roy Cohen believes meditating to be a great way to achieve peace of mind, while life coach Marsha Egan says most successful people use their downtime to reflect on their accomplishments, failures, and future plans.

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8. Prepare for the week ahead

There’s a reason many people wake up in a groggy panic every single Monday morning: They haven’t mentally prepare themselves for the work week. Especially if you’ve wasted the weekend and didn’t do all of the tasks you said you were going to “when you had the time,” Monday mornings can be an incredibly stressful time. But if you’ve used your weekend wisely, and you take some time Sunday night to analyze all the errands and jobs you need to do throughout the week, you can wake up on Monday feeling ready to take on whatever gets thrown at you.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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