How to have a stress-free weekend

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Have you ever been excit­ed for the week­end, but not able to ful­ly “leave” all the stuff you need to get done? I’ve been there. It can be stress­ful.

I hate to admit this, but I’ve had more than one week­end where it’s Sun­day night and I won­der… where did the past cou­ple days go??

Wait, tomorrow is . . . Monday?

Have you ever had that feel­ing? The dread of going back to work on Mon­day and get­ting in the rhythm of things?

It can be over­whelm­ing to be think­ing about WORK when you should be enjoy­ing REST and relax­ation dur­ing your time off. But it hap­pens! Our minds have a way of remind­ing us what needs to get done—rather than being com­plete­ly open, stress-free, and calm.

Our minds have a way of remind­ing us what needs to get done—rather than being com­plete­ly open, stress-free, and calm.

The cure: a weekly review

David Allen, author of Get­ting Things Done, argues the cause of STRESS is our ten­den­cy to HOLD ideas & infor­ma­tion in our head. I agree with him. By review­ing what is on your brain—and get­ting it out of your head and onto a page (or wherever)—you alle­vi­ate the ADDITIONAL cog­ni­tive task of hav­ing to remem­ber every­thing, which reduces stress and increas­es pro­duc­tive thought.

Our brains are for hav­ing ideas, not hold­ing them.

How does a Weekly Review work?

On a week­ly basis—at minimum—review every­thing “com­ing at you.” Check in with your­self. Look at your cal­en­dar. Take a minute to sweep through every­thing on your mind at work and at home. Look at the week ahead. Antic­i­pate things that might need to get done, and what you can do to make them go eas­i­er.

5 questions to consider during your weekly review:

  1. What does next week look like? Sim­ply look­ing at your cal­en­dar is a BIG step if you want a more-clear week­end. By doing this on Fri­day, you enter the week­end ful­ly aware of the next week’s land­scape.
  2. Do I need to rene­go­ti­ate any upcom­ing com­mit­ments? Some­times we dou­ble-book meet­ings or under-com­pen­sate how long some­thing will take. When this hap­pens, all you have to do is rene­go­ti­ate your com­mit­ment. Find a way to resched­ule or reach an agree­ment an alter­na­tive way. Just ask. See if you can rene­go­ti­ate soon­er than lat­er.
  3. Did I bud­get enough trav­el time for my meet­ings? Since I most­ly work from home, I con­sis­tent­ly for­get how long it takes to go places. When I do my week­ly review, I check to see if I’ll have enough time to arrive with­out fight­ing traf­fic. This leads to a more enjoy­able dri­ve, rather than dread­ing a com­mute.
  4. Did I sched­ule time for rest dur­ing the week? Rest dur­ing the weekdays/nights is just as impor­tant as rest dur­ing the week­end. Can we agree—rest is too often over­looked! So, dur­ing your week­ly review, look at your cal­en­dar and see if there’s a way for you to arrange a date night, movie night, or YOU-TIME: an evening to soak in a hot bath or read that book you’ve been eye­ing up. Then, you get to LOOK FORWARD to your rest, which could make your day more enjoy­able.
  5. Are there any poten­tial emer­gen­cies I can pre­pare for? Some peo­ple only know how to oper­ate in “emer­gency mode.” In oth­er words, every­thing to them is a FIRE and extreme­ly urgent!! ???? You can avoid these cir­cum­stances by think­ing through what could become an emer­gency, then tak­ing the steps in advance to ensure it is han­dled care­ful­ly.

Enter the week­end ful­ly aware of the next week’s land­scape.

You’re stressed because you left work TOO EARLY

Let me clar­i­fy. I’m not say­ing you should stay at work until 7:00pm on Fri­day evenings. I’m say­ing you shouldn’t leave work and enter “week­end mode” until you’ve done a week­ly review and are “up-to-date” with your­self and the fol­low­ing week’s com­mit­ments.

Enter your week­end KNOWING that your next week is “in con­trol” and that you’re aware of your commitments—and have the appro­pri­ate amount of time to do them.

Schedule your weekly review

Try to sched­ule a time every Fri­day when you can meet with your­self, your cal­en­dar, and your action lists. One hour might be enough time—but you may need more or less. Do what­ev­er it takes on Fri­day to look at what you’ve accom­plished, what is upcom­ing, and what will require the most time to com­plete. Then, sched­ule blocks of time where you don’t have to RUSH to com­plete the work. Tip: sched­ule more time than you think you need.

3 easy steps to make it happen

  1. Step 1: Sched­ule ~90 min­utes on Fri­day to do a week­ly review.
  2. Step 2: Sched­ule appro­pri­ate “chunks” dur­ing the fol­low­ing week to han­dle intense projects
  3. Step 3: Stay con­sis­tent by set­ting up a recur­ring appoint­ment every Fri­day. Keep the appoint­ment! It’s just as impor­tant (if not more impor­tant) than any oth­er pri­or­i­ty assigned to you.

Yes, this means “pausing” work for a little on Fridays!

If you want to be more pro­duc­tive and effec­tive in your work and per­son­al life, spend­ing time to review (plan the work) will pro­vide huge ben­e­fits.

Yes, this means you won’t be “get­ting a ton done” for an hour or so. But it’s worth it. It will give you the clar­i­ty, con­fi­dence, and peace-of-mind you need in order to have a more rest­ful week­end, which will pay­off Mon­day morn­ing when you’re not dread­ing the week’s tasks.

Re-train your mind

To have a stress-free week­end, know how your mind works. The human brain nat­u­ral­ly “noti­fies” us when we need to do stuff, no mat­ter what.

While I agree that we’re not all wired the same—and deal with lev­els of stress and expec­ta­tions differently—a trust­ed sys­tem (like a note­book, white­board, app, or cal­en­dar) will allow your mind to “rest” know­ing that every­thing you need to remem­ber is some­where safe.

Train your brain to trust and be at peace with the fact every­thing you need to remem­ber is writ­ten down some­where safe and that you WILL review at a lat­er time. At min­i­mum, because you booked an appoint­ment with your­self on the fol­low­ing Fri­day! (Don’t for­get to show up and keep that appoint­ment!)

The key: be PRESENT with everything on your plate

The key to hav­ing a clear, stress-free week­end is to be PRESENT with every­thing on your mind. This means you have to face what is stress­ing you out and iden­ti­fy it so you can move on.

To get present, do what­ev­er it takes. Use a piece of paper, a white­board, an app, or a sim­ple Google doc. The tool doesn’t mat­ter. In order to get clear, you have to iden­ti­fy every­thing that is on your head. If you move away too quick­ly, items will sneak back up on you when you’re try­ing to relax.

The key to hav­ing a clear, stress-free week­end is to be PRESENT with every­thing on your mind.

How do you pre­pare to relax for the week­end?

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