Each time Friday draws near, we all have our own ideas of the ‘perfect weekend’ waiting for us. For some of us, it might be a weekend getaway to a quiet town in the hills, with late morning walks ending with pancakes and endless cups of coffee. It could be sleeping all day, and being out at night with friends, good food, and loud music blaring all around you.
Whether you’re the one of those people who are out all weekend, hopping from bar to bar in a car chock full of friends and colleagues, or the one sitting with cold pizza slices in front of a laptop screen, one thing is certain: for all of us, the weekend ends all too fast, and all the grand plans we had – all the books we were definitely going to finish, those Oscar-nominated movies we were going to watch, that paper we were going to finish, the newspapers we were going to catch up on – none of them actually get crossed off the ever-growing list. Is it possible, really, to have a ‘productive’ weekend without it turning into just another kind of boring weekday? Does putting the ‘productive’ into weekend take away the whole magic of two days to kick your shoes off, and sleep to soothing jazz at one AM with suspiciously too many empty beer bottles scattered around you?
As tempting as it is to spend your weekend with your feet up on the couch and a remote flicking through random TV channels endlessly, you’ll definitely feel better if you do something as simple as this: don’t let the free hours take over you by default, instead make up your mind to do something, even if it’s something fun. You could spend hours in front of the TV if that’s what you decide that’s what you want to do, but the funny thing is that the need to pinpoint what exactly you want to do forces your mind to be specific – you’ll end up thinking ‘I want to watch Friends on TV’ or ‘I’ll watch TV until I make lunch’. When you look back at your weekend, watching endless reruns of old shows, or spending hours on paper cranes, won’t fill you with a sense of regret – consciously choosing to spend your time on something automatically translates into a feeling of purpose and happiness.
Planning your weekend might sound a little weird – after all, aren’t those two wonderful days at the end of the week for all things glorious, impulsive, and sleepy, and lethargic? It turns out having some clear ideas about things you want to do over the weekend – and sticking to them and your own commitments – ends up making you feel happier through the week as well. Anticipation about knowing you’re going to be doing something you want to do is a major source of happiness for people. Not only is your weekend and your Monday going to feel awesome after a weekend of doing things off your list, but your grueling workdays might just feel a little less annoying with the knowledge of what you’re going to do over the weekend!
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting you absolutely slaughter all fun out of your weekend through schedules, angry stick-notes reminding you of what you must do all over your house, and hourly reminders of a timetable you must follow. Simply deciding a couple of major things you’ve been hoping on doing for a while for your weekend and sticking to those is enough, with ample time for the classic ‘doing nothing’ over the weekend time. So whether it’s sorting out your CD collection, finishing a book in your garden, getting posters printed for your room, going shopping for hiking boots, or spending an evening in the park with your dog, make a mental list of just three things to do over your weekend, and make sure you stick to those commitments – you’ll be surprised to see how amazing you feel once you strike that list off in your head.
When you’re choosing what to do each weekend, be creative! Don’t get stuck in a rut of daily things – dig deep within your memory, you could pick up something you’ve always dreamed of doing (like driving down to that cliff where people cliff-dive, and actually doing it), or something from your childhood you want to take up again. It’s easy to be excited about your weekend plans, when you know the kind of joy they will give you – here’s a chance to take those language classes you always wanted to, or learn to play that song you love on the guitar.
Remember to not drown yourself in household chores or procrastinated work over the weekend; things like cleaning up or laundry days end up filling up all your empty hours, and will drain you out before your Sunday night. One way of getting around this is to finish the necessary must-do work in installments over your weekdays, so that your weekend can be full of pure, unadulterated – and fulfilling – enjoyment, just the way it is supposed to be.