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Published on March 26, 2021

9 Weekend Activities To Set You Up For Productivity the New Week

9 Weekend Activities To Set You Up For Productivity the New Week

That looming feeling of dread about Monday morning –– nicknamed the “Sunday Scaries” –– seemed to hit harder every week.

I would try to enjoy relaxing weekend activities, but as the work week approached, I found myself struggling to wind down. All I could think about were the responsibilities waiting for me in the office: a full inbox, a full schedule and to-do list, and the inevitable problems that would surface as I managed all of it.

Then, I realized: maybe the week itself wasn’t the problem. Maybe my weekend activities just weren’t preparing me to tackle the work ahead of me.

In my experience, one of the biggest predictors of a successful workweek is a strategic weekend.

The right plans on your off-days can provide the stamina you need to get things done when it matters most. The same is true the other way around: You’ll find more motivation to power through the week when you have something refreshing or fun to look forward to on the weekend.

Looking for some fresh ideas to maximize your effectiveness at work? Here are 9 weekend activities to set you up for productivity each week.

1. Meditation

Meditation can benefit your brain and behavior in many ways, from increasing your self-awareness and reducing stress to enhancing creativity and patience.[1]

All those things tangentially relate to work productivity, but gaining the ability to be fully present can have a major impact on your ability to focus –– and get things done –– throughout the week.

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If meditation feels overwhelming, start small. Focus on a relaxing task, like coloring or simply breathing, mindfully for 5-10 minutes. Write in a gratitude journal to improve your positive thinking. If you want some help in the process, download a meditation app like HeadSpace or Insight Timer.

You can also take a look at this Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day).

2. Something Creative

Painting. Writing. Redecorating your living room. All creative endeavors have one thing in common: They improve your well-being and brain function.

It’s well known that a sense of mastery (essentially, achieving something) can improve your mental health, freeing up mind space for you to focus on work during the week.[2] Being creative also encourages a “flow” state, which can enhance your productivity.

No matter how you choose to exercise creativity, do your best to give your brain a break from actual work.

3. Reading

Reading is a simple way to unwind any day, but it’s especially helpful to prepare yourself for the workweek. Any book you find interesting can be relaxing and enjoyable, but no matter what you choose, aim for paper –– all that time staring at screens can actually reduce your ability to read a real book.[3]

There’s also evidence suggesting reading fiction can improve your brain connectivity and function, which contributes to your productivity in obvious ways.[4]

In my experience, reading a great novel also helps me be more empathetic, and the ability to think from another person’s perspective can improve your relationships and problem-solving abilities. It’s a win-win!

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Check out these 30 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives.

4. Exercise

It takes some work to motivate myself, especially on weekends –– but I’ve found that my brain feels clearer and my body feels more relaxed the more physical activity I do.

It’s hard to over-emphasize the benefits of physical activity. Exercise impacts every area of health, from your mental well-being to your life expectancy and disease risk. But it’s also beneficial for your brain.

Scientific evidence shows routine exercise can improve memory, focus, and attention span, all of which contribute to your productivity during the week.[5]

Even if you’re not athletic, choose an activity you like doing, and do it for 30 minutes a day. If you can’t go to the gym or you don’t have equipment at home, turn on a YouTube class or go for a walk outside. You’ll reap long-term benefits, but if you’re anything like me, even the immediate benefits of moving your body will be worthwhile.

Find out How to Find Workout Motivation When You Hate Exercise.

5. Spending Time Outdoors

Time outdoors is a simple, enjoyable way to boost your health and, along the way, improve your productivity and focus at work. For example, sunshine in the morning helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which promotes better sleep and mood.[6]

Greenery, too has been shown to improve brain function –– even just looking at a pretty outdoor scene can pack a significant punch.[7]

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Aim to spend as much time outside as you can on weekends –- going for walks in your neighborhood, hiking on your favorite trails, even doing work in your yard. Opt to exercise in nature, and you’ll get the best of both worlds!

6. Something Fun

You’ve probably heard the phrase “working for the weekend.” While I’m a firm believer people should be passionate about their jobs, I also know how helpful it is to have something to anticipate throughout the week.

Psychological research suggests with an incentive ahead, people find more motivation to achieve.[8]

Incentivize working by planning something you’ll really look forward to on the weekend –– seeing a loved one, ordering from your favorite take-out, taking a mini-adventure out of town, or a special movie night with your family.

7. Cooking

If there’s one hobby I’m glad I adopted during the pandemic, it’s cooking. Using your five senses is a great way to practice mindfulness and reduce anxiety.[9] Preparing meals on the weekend can also help you save time during the week.

I like to make a big Sunday dinner and save leftovers to eat in the early portion of the week. Sometimes, I order groceries and prep ingredients on Sunday afternoons, too, and if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll make separate batches of food to freeze and heat up later, when I don’t feel like cooking.

All the effort helps me to relax, saves me time after work, and prevents me from ordering fast food that’ll drain my energy later on –– and these three things combined increase the likelihood of productivity throughout the week.

8. Screen-Free Time

There’s nothing wrong with some tech-centric leisure, but if your job relies on tech throughout the week, it’s a good idea to unplug on the weekends.

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First of all, too much screen time, especially at night, interferes with sleep. To best prepare for success at work, you’ll want to catch up on lost rest over the weekend –– and all that blue light isn’t going to support restorative rest.[10]

Plus, it’s likely your brain needs a break from the constant input of the internet. It may feel relaxing to scroll Twitter mindlessly, but there’s lots of evidence that too much screen time can interfere with healthy brain function.[11]

Allow yourself some screen-free hours on Saturday and Sunday, and you’ll find yourself more creative and focused during the week.

9. Planning Your Week

Is your goal is to enhance your productivity? Arguably, then, the most significant part of your weekend is the time you take to set intentions for the week ahead.

There’s no one-size-fits-all schedule for success. How you plan out your week should ultimately depend on your big-picture goals and the tasks you need to accomplish to achieve them.

There’s also evidence that high performance is more likely to occur when people and organizations take the time to plan out how they’ll meet their goals. Don’t skimp on this part –– studies show you’ll achieve more when your planning quality is high, too.[12]

You may not want to spend your weekend laying out your schedule and setting goals, but you’ll find your stress decreases and your effectiveness increases if you do.

The same is true for the other weekend activities. It might feel better to zone out on Netflix, but setting yourself up for success is worth the investment –– especially if it banishes those Sunday Scaries once and for all.

Want to learn even more about the best weekend activities for personal development? Check out 13 Things to Do During Weekends to Improve Your Life.

Featured photo credit: Юлія Вівчарик via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2021

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

Productivity Boost: How to start your day at 5:00 AM

I have been an early-riser for over a year now. Monday through Friday I wake up at 5:00 AM without hitting the snooze button even once. I never take naps and rarely feel tired throughout the day. The following is my advice on how to start your day (everyday) at 5:00 AM.The idea of waking up early and starting the day at or before the sunrise is the desire of many people. Many highly successful people attribute their success, at least in part, to rising early. Early-risers have more productive mornings, get more done, and report less stress on average than “late-risers.” However, for the unaccustomed, the task of waking up at 5:00 AM can seem extremely daunting. This article will present five tips about how to physically wake up at 5:00 AM and how to get yourself mentally ready to have a productive day.

Many people simply “can’t” get up early because they are stuck in a routine. Whether this is getting to bed unnecessarily late, snoozing repetitively, or waiting until the absolute last possible moment before getting out of bed, “sleeping in” can easily consume your entire morning. The following tips will let you break the “sleeping in” routine.

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Relocate your alarm clock.

Having an alarm clock too close to your bed is the number one reason people simply cannot get up in the morning. If your alarm clock is within arms reach of your bed, or if you can turn your alarm clock off without getting out of bed, you are creating an unnecessarily difficult situation for yourself. Before I became an early-riser, there were many times that I would turn off my alarm without even waking up enough to remember turning it off. I recommend moving your alarm clock far enough away from your bed that you have to get completely out of bed to turn it off. I keep my alarm clock in the bathroom. This may not be possible for all living arrangements, however, I use my cellphone as an alarm clock and putting it in the bathroom makes perfect sense. In order to turn off my alarm I have to get completely out of bed, and since going to the restroom and taking a shower are the first two things I do everyday, keeping the alarm clock in the bathroom streamlines the start of my morning.

Scrap the snooze.

The snooze feature on all modern alarm clocks serves absolutely no constructive purpose. Don’t even try the “it helps me slowly wake up” lie. I recommend buying an alarm that does not have a snooze button. If you can’t find an alarm without a snooze button, never read the instructions so you will never know how long your snooze button lasts. Not knowing whether it waits 10 minutes or 60 minutes should be enough of a deterrent to get you to stop using it.

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Change up your buzzer

If you use the same buzzer day in and day out, you begin to develop a tolerance to the sound. The alarm clock will slowly become less effective at waking you up over time. Most newer alarm clocks will let you set a different buzzer tone for the different days of the week. If you change your buzzer frequently, you will have an easier time waking up.

Make a puzzle

If you absolutely cannot wake up without repetitive snoozing, try making a puzzle for yourself. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand that the longer your alarm is going off, the more awake you will become. Try making your alarm very difficult to turn off by putting it under the sink, putting it under the bed, or better yet, by forcing yourself to complete a puzzle to turn it off. Try putting your alarm into a combination-locked box and make yourself put in the combination in order to turn off the alarm — it’s annoying, but extremely effective!

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Get into a routine

Getting up at 5:00 AM is much easier if you are doing it Monday through Friday rather than sporadically during the week. I recommend setting an alarm once that repeats everyday. Also, going to bed at about the same time every night is an important factor to having a productive morning. Learn how much sleep you need to get in order to not feel exhausted the following day. Some people can get by on 4-6 hours while most need 7-8.

Have a reason

Make sure you have a specific reason to get up in the morning. Getting up at 5:00 AM just for the heck of it is a lot more difficult than if you are getting up early to plan your day, pay bills, go for a jog, get an early start on work, etc. I recommend finding something you want to do for yourself in the morning. It will be a lot easier to get up if you are guaranteed to do something fun for yourself — compare this to going on vacation. You probably have no problem waking up very early on vacation or during holidays. My goal every morning is to bring that excitement to the day by doing something fun for myself.

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As I previously mentioned, I have been using these tips for a very long time. Joining the world of early-risers has been a great decision. I feel less stressed, I get more done, and I feel happier than I did when I was a late-riser. If you follow these tips you can become an early-riser, too. Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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