Over the course of our lives, we only get a few thousand weekends. The most successful people know better than to squander them by laying around or scrubbing the floors.
In her book, “What The Most Successful People Do On The Weekend,” time management expert Laura Vanderkam outlines how to make the most of this sacred time off from your harried workweeks.
She outlines how you can take control of your weekends by planning ahead, being selective with your time, and finally indulging what you love most.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee says you need to have a plan for the weekend, setting specific hours or minutes aside for activities you want to do. Then you have to commit.
Huckabee advises: 'If you know you want to read a book, then get the book out and have it set aside and make plans to read it. Say it's going to be at 1. When that starts, get on it. Don't wait until that afternoon, then think -- could I read? Or listen to some music? Or take a walk? Then you'll sit about wasting an hour of what little time you have figuring out what to do with the rest of it.'
You have to be disciplined and commit to the decisions you make.
Vanderkam cites Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book, 'Stumbling on Happiness.' In it, Gilbert argues that 'the greatest achievement of the human brain is its ability to imagine objects and episodes that do not exist in the realm of the real.'
Gilbert is talking about anticipation. Anticipation accounts for a huge chunk of happiness, which comes from thinking about the events we plan. Vanderkam writes, 'As you look forward to something good that is about to happen, you experience some of the same joy you would in the moment. The major difference is that the joy can last much longer.'
When the weekend rolls around there may be so many things that you want to do that you freeze up and end up doing almost none of them. That's why it's effective to have a really good list.
Vanderkam suggests people create something called 'A List of 100 Dreams,' which prompts you to brainstorm anything you might want to do in life. Although some things, like going to see the pyramids in Egypt, may not be doable right now, by the end of the list you'll have come up with everyday activities, like getting together with friends for a picnic in the park.
One of Vanderkam's key secrets is to 'dig deep.' Even if there are activities that you haven't done since childhood, you can still make them part of your regular weekends.
For example, one of her readers signed up for Saturday morning piano lessons. She says that sometimes parents get so caught up in planning their kids' lives that they forget to schedule fun activities for themselves. Pick something that means a lot to you, and make it a permanent routine.
'Happy families often have some special weekend activity that everyone loves but no one has to plan each time,' Vanderkam writes.
It could be as simple as making pancakes or taking a stroll on a Sunday evening. Whatever you'd like to implement, make it a ritual. Soon they will become traditions, and traditions become comforting memories, which are proven to boost happiness.
There are always things you have to do, but keeping chores to a minimum on the weekends is really important.
Finishing chores shouldn't be central to your weekend because they often expand to fill available time. Instead, try to do a chore each day during the week. If that's not possible then set aside small windows of time during the weekend. For example, set a half an hour on a Friday night between dinner and when you watch a movie to put away the laundry, or 20 minutes between your piano lesson and bike ride on Saturday morning to empty the garbage.
Setting small amounts of time will motivate you to get chores done quickly.
Have a tech 'Sabbath' day -- or at least a few hours on the weekend when you unplug from your email and professional life.
Although it becomes harder to do that with smartphones and demanding careers, Vanderkam recommends hiding your mail icon on your phone during your 'Sabbath,' so you are not even tempted to click on messages that spill into your inbox. You may not be able to completely avoid working on the weekends, but you can at least carve out a few hours.