Weekends are multi-purpose events. Depending on where you are in life, those two precious days present a variety of activities and opportunities. Most of us welcome weekends as a break from weekday project schedules and routines, and fill our time with family and friends, errands, house projects, sleeping in, couch surfing, exercising, dining—the list goes on. But what about work?
There are several ways to approach the working-on-the-weekend position. For some, weekends offer a gift of time and space, an opportunity to get a leg up on your job and build your career. Weekends give you a break from office distractions and let you get meaningful work done, such as: laying down your business’ ground-breaking strategy; writing emails that let you devote your week to moving a critical initiative forward; simply catching up, or learning more about your industry, a skill or a craft. Bottom line: Your weekend could be the secret weapon to your career.
If you have an executive or leadership position in your organization, you’re probably more likely to use the weekend to stay on top of responsibilities. Leaders are less likely to have time on Monday to catch up and reorient themselves to where they left off on Friday. Instead, they have to be ready to go, not just for themselves but for their entire team. If you’re a contributing team member, “working” on the weekend can be as simple as reading a book that relates to your job or taking a class.
When you love what you do
A lot of successful people love what they do, so their work integrates into their life seven days a week. If you’re passionate about what you do, “working on the weekend” is also just another way to nurture a relationship that you really care about.
Laura Vanderkam, author of “What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend,” takes us inside the weekends of people who have built momentous careers. The book, and one example in particular, makes a compelling argument for using a few hours on Sunday to prepare for the upcoming week. The time spent going over priorities and getting a handle on your game plan translates not only into time saved, but money saved, too. (Companies probably don’t net high earnings from employees answering emails.)
Another way to look at working on the weekend: It’s a way to quell the Sunday evening anxiety many of us experience as we fall into a new week ahead.
Above all, plan your weekends well
Ideally, we all want to return to work on Monday feeling energized and motivated. The better you use your weekend, the more you’ll be ready to perform well in your job. In her book, Vanderkam talks about the value of having a few anchor events (pre-planned activities that can range from quiet time to a day hike). By having some items already on the calendar, you don’t have to spin your wheels planning your weekend on your weekend, and you have something to look forward to. A succession of well-used weekends can fuel you to for a week of purposeful work, and if you can string a lot of these great weeks together—say hello to your advancing career.
What makes someone feel refreshed and ready to do great work come Monday morning varies. If you’re someone who recharges by turning off your computer, then go for it. It might change over time and with varying demand cycles, and especially as your responsibilities grow. But with the advent of laptops and handheld devices, tucking in periods of work away from the office is easier and more convenient than ever. (Which can be a good or bad thing). Make sure you don’t have work bleed into your entire weekend—so be intentional about carving out appointed time.
However you choose to spend your weekend, consider the long game. There are going to be periods in your job and career that demand longer hours. You might go through periods when you want to spend time nurturing your career, and others when you just want to unplug and focus on your relationships or an extracurricular hobby (good cross training!). The good news is that you have years to perfect your weekends—and learn how to make them feed your career, whether that means working or escaping into the mountains for a couple of days.
Time management is an important skill to master as a project manager (and could even save your weekends!). If you want to master some basic PM habits, download our eBook, “5 Practical Habits for Today’s Project Manager.”