ATM Book Club Week 6 (Chapter 5)

I’m running an informal book club devoted to All the Money in the World here on the blog. You can jump in whenever you like; there are links to past weeks at the bottom of this post.

Chapter 5 is called “Your Best Weekend Ever” and looks at the question of stuff vs. experiences (and the intersection of the two) and how to use what happiness research tells us in order to plan a very enjoyable and not-too-expensive Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you haven’t read the book yet, or need a refresher, the slideshow I did for The Huffington Post about a week ago has the chapter highlights. (How many articles can I place out of one book? Let’s just say we use all parts of the buffalo in this operation).

The “Your Best Weekend Ever” chapter has had a profound effect on how I plan my weekends. One of the keys to happiness is right there in that sentence. I try to plan them. Planning stretches out the fun you get from any experience. You anticipate something good that’s going to happen, and as any kid dreaming of Christmas morning knows, the anticipation is a big part of the enjoyment. That doesn’t mean you need to plan every hour. But planning 3-5 meaningful and enjoyable activities for a weekend should leave space for downtime. 

What should those 3-5 things be? Anything you like, but again, happiness research gives us some ideas. Beyond obviously pleasurable activities such as eating and sex (also good to include in your weekend!) people are happiest when they are exercising, socializing and engaging in spiritual activities. So all three are good to include: a long run, a party, a church service. Or one could think of another trio: a Pilates class, volunteering at a soup kitchen, dinner with friends. You get the idea.

Then there are two other important tricks. First, you should plan something fun for Sunday night if possible. Even people who like their jobs tend to get a little Sunday afternoon malaise looking forward to the workweek. If you plan something low-key but enjoyable for Sunday night, you’ll look forward to that instead. I’ve found that Sunday late afternoon is a good time to have friends over for just such a reason.

The second trick? Try to create a block of time for the “have-to-dos.” A general nagging feeling that you have chores to do can cloud a whole weekend. Better to tell yourself “there’s a time for that — and now is not that time.”

This past weekend, my husband and I built a fire outside on Friday night after the kids went to bed. On Saturday we took the kids to Longwood Gardens to see the tulips. We traded off later in the afternoon as we both did runs, then we got to go out for date night after the kids went to bed (a nice way to do this on weekends, we’ve decided. A late dinner means we don’t miss any time with the kids but can still go out, and I made it a personal goal lately to find sitters with weekend availability). We found an amazing restaurant less than 10 minutes away from us and had a rather fancy dinner. Sunday morning we looked for Easter eggs around the house, then all went to church and sat as a family. Three wiggly little kids packed into a full pew is quite a way to spend church! But they mostly did all right. Later in the afternoon we went to the zoo. I’ve learned to start picking up a book right before the weekend to give me something to do during downtime. This naturally leads to less puttering, since I have something else I want to do.

What did you really like about this past weekend? What would you like to plan for next weekend to create a really fun — but not over-the-top-expensive — experience?

Past weeks:

ATM Book Club Week 1 (intro)

ATM Book Club Week 2 (Chapter 1)

ATM Book Club Week 3 (Chapter 2)

ATM Book Club Week 4 (Chapter 3)

ATM Book Club Week 5 (Chapter 4)

photo courtesy flickr user ell brown

8 thoughts on “ATM Book Club Week 6 (Chapter 5)

  1. I really liked this chapter, and the idea of planning out leisure time. I sort of discovered this on my own once my daughter became a toddler. We had 3 days at home together and as much as I didn’t want to overschedule our time together, I had to plan *something* for each of those days so that we didn’t go crazy in the house or waste the time on something not that fun.

    I also find that when I think about it ahead of time, I come up with better stuff than if I just try to wing it. So our more elaborate art projects or interesting outings were pre-planned.

    1. @ARC- very smart to plan something for your days with your daughter. I resolve every year to try to think through what I want to do with the kids in the evening on the nights I have them solo but it’s always hard. We’re all tired, half the year it’s dark and cold, and there just aren’t many kids’ activities in the evening. As the weather gets nicer and now that we have a yard at least there’s that.

      1. Interesting re: kids’ activities in the evenings. I wonder if you guys have more SAHMs there or something? We have a lot of stuff that starts at 6:30 or 7pm on weekdays and I’m always lamenting BabyT’s early bedtime for that.

        Most of our Library Story Times that I want to go to are at 7pm, as are the free concerts hosted by kiddie bands, etc.

  2. Hmm. Friday night went to wal mart for easter candy … had a child over for play date with my daughter … visited with friends.. sat… hung around house with kids, took my daughter for pizza lunch, did some work throughout the day including some deliveries which I topped off with a just for me trip the public library .. I keep a list of books I want to read on my desktop then when I have a minute I try to pick them up or find on tape.. found 2 on my list available and on tape so that should make my run to the accountant and daycare today better.. totally agree with your thoughts here on getting a book and making that free time activity… also helps me avoid temptation to go back to work for a few things on a weekend… sat afternoon shifted off with mother in law and took son for one on one time so I had one on one time with both kids… sunday a.m. egg h unt and friends over for that …neighbor kids planted eggs for younger kids.. then church and sunday school… I go to a church with a great separate sunday school and I leave the baby home.. big family meal sunday which I didn’t cook, lingering around yard and park time …. not a whole lot of me time … and 0 couple time… holiday weekends are tough for entrepreneurs like us b/c people call out and business owner has to work… my husband worked most of the weekend !

    1. @Cara- I always wind up doing some work on the weekends, but I’m trying to confine this to Sunday evenings. One of the reasons I’m aiming to pick up a good book for each weekend is that this tends to get rid of some of my inefficient “work” time — checking email, then checking again an hour later. Better to read and keep the computer off. I know not everyone can do this but hopefully most entrepreneurs can at least keep the email off for a few hours at a time on weekends.

      1. Good thought! It is very emotionally draining to be on all the time.. so I also need to work on confining weekend work to a block.. and let the rest of the weekend happen

  3. I am definitely intentional about my leisure time (reading, foreign language study, and exercise, though I’m not sure I consider exercise “leisure.”) However, puttering is an integral part of my weekend, so I might plan fewer activities (maybe 2-3) and otherwise see where the puttering leads:-)

    1. @Sara- if you like to putter, more power to you! I’ve just noticed that my own puttering feels more draining than anything else. Inefficient checking of email, putting stuff away that just gets pulled out again, reading stuff I don’t particularly care about. Better to do stuff in my case and bury my nose in a book the rest of the time.

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