Saturday is my day on. The list of things to do barely fits into the one, precious day. There’s yoga class, laundry, course work, and the newsletter. When that’s all done, and if I have time, I dive back into classwork, reviewing what I learned that week, studying what I got wrong on quizzes and tests. If there isn’t enough time (usually because the washers and dryers are being used or I need to get quarters), I grab dinner and sit down and watch a movie.
The day is packed with tasks and chores, all of which need to happen in a particular order so I can keep my momentum. I also pair activities.
Breakfast + Reading
Studying + sitting outside
Laundry + Podcasts
Dinner + Movie
Saturday is the day I turn all of my productivity hacks on overdrive and aim them squarely at myself and my wants and needs, making it easily my favorite day of the week. Are my tasks particularly sexy or game-changing? No. But they make me feel great when they're done. The routine is so deeply engrained now, I couldn’t imagine the day going another (or better) way.
So, what does this have to do with getting it all done? Well, the only way I’ve found to get everything doneis to not do everything. I don’t attend social events or go on long bike rides or stare at the ceiling (which I try to do on Sunday). I don’t sit and read long books, since I need to save my reading time for class and the newsletter.
The key to getting it all done, is defining clearly what “all” is and agreeing with yourself on the definition. I’ve found it important to keep “all” to a specific set of things — just enough that I feel stretched, but not so much that it’s impossible. Then, when I am done, I can bask in the glow of having done what I set out to do, rather than disappointed in the things I didn’t get to because I set unrealistic goals.
Prior to finding this routine, I used to fritter away my weekends, thinking that weekends are for doing nothing, and that if I was at all productive, I was wasting my time. So, I would go out in the morning, grab a bunch of food and park in front of my movie streaming app of choice and binge watch everything. Then, I would go out, get takeout for dinner, come back and continue to watch everything. Then, Sunday would arrive, and I’d slog through my laundry, check some work emails before Monday and give the couch the last remaining hours of my attention before trundling off to bed, nursing a horrible case of the Mondays.
Then, I had a brief phase where I would try to do everything over the weekend. But I would work on other people’s work instead of my own. I mistakenly thought that, if I worked on the weekend, I’d get ahead of everyone else and move faster towards a promotion, a bigger salary, bonuses and accolades, while still having easier weekdays. I quickly realized this plan was the equivalent of chasing a narwal strapped to a unicorn while both of my feet were trapped in a potato sac.
The fact is, your to-do list will never go away at your day job. Think about it, if you had nothing to do, your employer would stop paying you. The key is to do work that enriches you, and then, use what you learn about what you do for yourself and how you do it and apply it to your weekday work. When you work for you on your time and, in that time, make time to relax and find a pace that makes you happy, it makes it a lot easier to find that sweet spot during the week.
Now, I reach Monday feeling refreshed, buoyed by all of the work I did for myself over the weekend — the learning, the writing, and even the podcasts (which mask the chore of the laundry) — and intrigued about what Monday may have in store.
* - This week's quote comes via this post on Medium about working for yourself