- Coming Clean -

COMING CLEAN: Creating Better Weekends

Another weekend is upon us. Here’s how I’m making it a great one.

Weekends, for the 9-to-5ers, are considered sacred time. Time to relax, read, spend time with family and friends, maybe attend a concert or museum opening — really, anything that recharges you to be both refreshed for the next workweek and just keep you happy all around.

But I have tendency to think of weekends as time to “catch up.” Do household chores, run errands and pick up groceries, finish a few work projects that still need attention or get a head start for the week ahead. Somehow, I manage to squeeze in a call or visit with friends and family. Oh, and don’t neglect the workout! By the time I hear the 60 Minutes clock ticking away on Sunday evening, it starts to sounds like the minutes of my life disappearing as I grasp onto each precious second.

Sigh.

The more I’ve been practicing staying in the present moment, meditating and journaling, the more I’ve been able to give myself a break. No one really “does it all,” at least, not without paying a consequence at some point in their lives.

Some of my attempts at optimizing my weekend have been hugely successful: combining social time with activity like a nice walk in the park; designating windows of time for just reading magazines and another for getting through 20 pages or more of whatever book I’m currently reading (right now it’s Daring Greatly by Brené Brown); scheduling “happy hours” with Kyle on Sunday night (although that might have to move to Friday now that Football Season is in full swing); and keeping Sunday night reserved for TV time to watch a show or two (between AMC, HBO and Showtime, we DVR about four or five shows Sunday nights and spread them out throughout the week, but watch our two favorites in real time).

All those other to-dos? I’ve been spreading them out during the week. Grocery shopping on Wednesdays after acupuncture, pet-food run on Mondays, farmers’ market on Tuesdays. This way, I don’t feel that need to have to shop on the weekend, and it leaves more room for leisure. With Facebook, email and texting, I still feel connected to my friends and family, even if I’m not able to see or call them on the weekends, and I can plan quality time with them when it works for both our schedules.

Other times, creating these Ideal Weekends falls flat. It’s still a work in progress, as life continues to unfold. But I’m consciously considering how to getting better at relaxing, if that’s possible.

This weekend, we’re heading into the northwestern woods of Wisconsin to commune with nature. The fresh air and pine and birch trees seem to have magical powers to lower my cortisol levels. The kitschy small town (where you can find everything from moccasins to chainsaw-carved wooden bear statues) and its friendly residents, who still wave at passersby on the gravel roads, remind me that the simpler I make my life, the happier I can be. After all, friendly people are happy people, generally speaking, right?

Eventually, I’d even consider a full day for a digital detox, and not Tweet or email or post anything all day, as Cisco Systems CTO Padmasree Warrior does every Saturday. But right now, if I can kick up my heels for a stretch of time, lose the have-to mindset and not fear the 60 Minutes clock on Sundays, I consider it a successful weekend.

What do you do to relax over the weekend?

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