Be more productive in 2017 (Day 3: Think through weekends by Wednesday)

fullsizerender-10This week I'm sharing five small habits that make a big impact on productivity. First, we talked about climbing mountains on Monday morning (that is, tackling long-term, important stuff that doesn't have to happen first). Yesterday we talked about building in mindful breaks. Today's habit -- a strategy for creating more satisfying leisure time -- has little do with work in the narrow sense, though in the broader sense it does. If you spend Monday to Friday working hard, devoting mental space to weekend planning seems like a tall order. Many people also feel some resistance to the concept. I just want to do nothing. Or, I'll see what I feel like in the moment.

Which might be OK if you never want to eat at a popular restaurant, see a show with other people who have busy schedules, plan a day trip that requires leaving at a reasonable hour, do anything that's weather-dependent, or find a babysitter. Personally, I find that it's easy for weekends to disappear not into a relaxing "nothing" but into a "something" that involves too many chores, errands, kid activities, kid fight refereeing, social media, inefficient email checking, and puttering around the house.

So, today's habit is to give at least a passing thought to your weekend by Wednesday. Ask yourself what 3 things you could do between Friday and Sunday that would add to your energy levels. They need not be elaborate. Meeting a friend for coffee, going for a longish bike ride during a break in the rain on Saturday, and attending worship services would work just fine as a plan. People with more moving parts in their lives (e.g. 3 kids in 6 sports — that sort of thing) will need a more finely drawn map for their days "off." I tend to plan my weeks on Fridays, which means I'm often looking to the next weekend (the one that starts in 7 days). That gives me time to manage schedules, find sitters, and for the most part get to do stuff I want to do. When I don't do this, weekends don't fall apart, but they do feature a lot of unforced errors. Like I miss a window to go for a run, or we have a wretchedly long morning of "nothing" (i.e. ornery children) and then have to race to a park or museum before it closes at 4:30 p.m. post nap, when we could have gone in the morning had we thought it through.

I said this wasn't work-related in the narrow sense, but in the broader sense it is, because just as we need breaks at work to stay productive, we need breaks during the week as a whole, too. You want weekends that add to your energy levels, rather than those that feel draining or forgettable. Being mindful helps guard against that. And it means you can hit Monday feeling ready to go.

In other news: I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, is now on sale in paperback! With a new cover, and a new afterward, this book shares strategies that can help you achieve more at work and at home. Please click here for links to major retailers. Thanks for checking it out!

I did a quick FB Live chat yesterday about it. I have a raging case of laryngitis, hence the slightly scratchy (sultry? Let's hope for sultry) voice.

Also, I'm featured in two really fun Business Insider round-ups. First, 18 Highly Successful People Share Their New Year's Resolutions and then Successful People Share 11 Ways To Make 2017 Your Most Productive Yet.

I liked Modern Mrs. Darcy's post on 7 Simple Ways To Read More This Year.

If you're looking for an interesting read, check out The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, by Emily Esfahani Smith, which will be out January 10. I get a lot of self-help type books, and most are not that good, but Smith does a lot of research into the question of how people in an increasingly secular culture can find meaning in their lives. Think tapping into community, seeking a sense of purpose, and being open to mystery, all complete with fascinating stories of people doing just that. I also enjoy that she comes from a slightly different background than many self help writers, and she talks about her Sufi upbringing, and the sense of mysticism that imprinted on her. Worth a read.

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8 Responses to Be more productive in 2017 (Day 3: Think through weekends by Wednesday)


  1. Joanna says:

    I know in the past you wrote about the idea of something social, something active, and something spiritual or as your “anchor” events for the weekend and keeping that in mind has really made our weekends more fun. So far we have dinner at a friend’s house on Fri night, church Sunday morning (which turns social during coffee hour), and I suspect playing in snow on Saturday. 🙂

    • @Joanna- that sounds like a wonderful weekend. And yep, social/active/spiritual makes for a good combo. For most people, these are things that fall in the “likely to make you happy” category.

  2. Meghan says:

    Good reminder! Just this morning, my husband and I talked about what big outing we wanted to do this weekend (I think it’ll be FDR’s Little White House in Warm Springs). I feel most satisfied when we do one outing, one errand and one nagging household task (like take down the Christmas tree or rake leaves), and we have a tradition of family pizza and movie every Friday night, so that’s one thing we don’t have to plan.

  3. EB says:

    More related to your general theme of making mindful decisions on how to spend your time–I read a quote today that totally reminded me of your books/blog! “Mindfulness gives you time. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom.” Quoting Henepola Gunaratana.

  4. Ana says:

    Laura, when does your book will be available on iBooks? (Please say soon!)

    • @Ana – I don’t know – Penguin is in charge of these things, not me! So glad for your interest 🙂

      • Ana says:

        Thanks for your reply! I’m really looking forward to read it! Greetings from Guatemala

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