If you want to get your weekends back, then you need to change the way you think about productivity. Very often, time off during the weekend is the first casualty of a packed and over ambitious schedule.
Before long, Saturday and Sunday become more about checking email, catching up on work, and preparing for Monday, instead of relaxing and recharging.
The mental mileage starts to add up and you move closer to burnout. Let’s avoid that destination. Consider these tips to help you get your weekends back:
Define What Represents Urgent Email
It’s easy to think of every email being a critical part of our national security. Instead, most do not rise to that level of importance and do not require an immediate response.
Just because we can send email anywhere and anytime, does not mean the message is urgent.
To solve this problem you need to talk to the members of your team and the rest of your organization about setting expectations. Can people lay off the send button during off hours or is there a way to identify important after hours messages as urgent?
Come up with a policy that can be communicated to employees. All parties need to buy into it because if one group goes rogue and sends out lots of weekend messages, then that will soon become the norm for everyone.
For more on this topic, read Email After Hours.
You have a limited amount of time in your day. Are you filling it with your most important work or have little, unimportant tasks stated to claim precious minutes?
Identify your top five priorities at work and spend a few days tracking how much time you’re spending on them. Often, your work on these items bleeds into your time away from the office.
Analyze the less important items. Consider whether you still need to perform them (even if they are fun), whether they add value to the organization, and if there are ways to streamline the process of performing them.
It’s very likely you’ll discover more time to put toward your major work priorities.
For more on this topic, read my article Is Your Workday Like a Game of Pinball.
A lot of leaders know what they need to do but are constantly interrupted by questions. As a result, the leader never has a chance to focus on his or her big picture goals.
If you fall into this group, then you need to start thinking about your work time as a precious resource. Get out of the mindset of thinking it can be extended after hours.
As a leader you need to be accessible but can you ask the members of your team to save up some of their non-essential questions and deliver them in batches? This technique has you control the flow of questions much like how a dam controls a river.
Also, can you close your door and turn off your phone and email for a few minutes? Most people are accepting of a do not disturb message, if they know you’re performing important work.
For more of my thoughts on this topic, read Do Distractions Kill Your Productivity.
Schedule Catch Up Time
It would be unrealistic to think little problems and distractions won’t pop up during your day. These things require your attention and have to be addressed.
Why not prepare for these unexpected tasks by making sure your schedule is not already full? Give yourself some time every day that is blocked out and designed to allow you to catch up on your work. Remember, your goal is to get the work done and not be the busiest person in the office.
Some use Friday afternoon as time to catch up, as most outside business starts to cycle down then.
For more, read I Don’t Have Time to Be More Productive.
Act to Get Your Weekends Back
If you want to get your weekends back, consider these steps and find a mix that works for you. You know that doing nothing will lead to a predictable outcome.
Looking for a productivity edge? New tips come out every week in our video series.