Intentional Weekends

Our hectic schedules so often put our goals at odds, but with a little planning and a slower pace, you can reclaim and enjoy your valuable downtime.

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farmers market fruit

“Is it Friday yet?” People say it jokingly, but not-so-jokingly. Busy work schedules mean that Saturdays and Sundays are packed with errands. If you’re like me, you’re thinking about the weekend by Wednesday – it’s not because I dread my work week, but so I can be strategic.

Part of the issue with weekends is that our goals are often in conflict, and this can produce anxiety. On one hand we want to unwind, but on the other, chores and personal business are there waiting for us. There is a way to get to it all, if you can find a happy medium.

With the exception of weekends when I’m traveling, my goals don’t vary much. What do I absolutely need to do? Who do I need to see? What parts of town will I be in? I may have planned to wash my car, exercise, grocery shop, clean my home, hang out with friends and go to church. It’s easy to talk about needs and wants, but without a framework, it’s not likely to happen. I try my best to be intentional. Here’s my approach:

  • Cleaning house: I choose a specific project and I focus on it. It could be cleaning the fridge out, organizing a closet or even doing laundry.
  • Getting social: I plan a few activities to catch up with friends or do some networking.
  • Resting: I slow things down to catch up on sleep, meditate or reflect.

In a typical weekend, I start by making a list using a really helpful app called Wunderlist. It allows me to coordinate multiple lists and share them with others if needed. I get a real sense of accomplishment from hitting the little box to check off an item. I’m flexible with my list because unforeseen things come up, and I don’t want to feel too restricted. I’m naturally an early bird, so on weekends when I’m well-rested, I plan to get my fitness done outdoors in the morning.

I don’t mind going solo, but this is also an excellent time to be social. I can meet a friend out on one of my favorite hiking trails and catch up there, all while burning some calories. If I’m feeling really ambitious, I bring along my DSLR and get some practice shots on the trail, or afterwards at brunch. I try my best to coordinate and wear one of my cuter workout outfits, which I can easily wear in layers for weather changes and impromptu hangouts.

Before I head out, I pack snacks (usually fresh fruit and nuts), water, sunscreen and a jacket, so I’m prepared to keep moving. After hiking and brunch, it’s usually a good time to wash my car or drop by my P.O. box. When I’m done, I shower and shamelessly veg out a bit or take a nap.

My next task is house cleaning – again, I make a list and check it off as I go. If you have the extra cash, it can be really effective to hire help. I love using TaskRabbit , and I have them assist with major areas like the bathroom and kitchen. While they’re cleaning, I’m cleaning. For some reason, another person helping out makes the time go by quickly. And since I’m cleaning other parts of the home, I don’t end up paying for several hours of cleaning.

Grocery shopping is another task that can be made to serve several purposes, especially when the weather is nice. You can grab some reusable bags and a friend (or your pet), and head to the farmer’s market to get some fresh air and search for deals on vegetables in season.

That brings us to possibly the most important part of the weekend – getting enough rest. It seems like it would be automatic, a given. But the realities of hectic lifestyles and expectations often work against us. Rest is essential, and it’s absolutely valid to recharge and restore. This includes actual sleep as well as downtime, and there’s no need to apologize or make excuses.

If you remember to pace yourself during the work week, you’ll find you’re less burned-out on the weekend. That in turn will enable you to enjoy yourself more and still get things done. Here are my top five tips to keep in mind: 

  1. Don’t live for the weekend: Live a life you don’t need to escape every Friday. The weekdays need as much balance as the weekends, and maintaining this balance will help keep you more at peace.
  2. Make a list: Prioritize what you need to do, and make adjustments as needed.
  3. Make healthy living fun: If you love hitting the gym, great! If not, try to find something active you know you’ll enjoy and keep doing it. Tennis, hiking, surfing, kickboxing or just going out and walking your dog – physical activity can help ease stress.
  4. Multitask errands and social activities: Find a way to combine chores with time spent with friends. This tends to make the task more enjoyable, and you will likely feel more fulfilled at the end of the day.
  5. Focus on restoration: Although all your weekend activities won’t be centered on rest, you can approach them with an attitude that supports restoration. Slow your pace. Forgive yourself for what you cannot complete, and savor each moment.