You Are Reading This on My Saturday

Ah, time zones. Because of these divisions of time, what publishes at 4:00am Saturday morning, Australian Central Standard Time, will be read by some of you on Friday. It is, however, important to realise that I am writing this on Friday evening, around 8:30pm, so that will help you to determine the context. You may not need it because my question is simple:

“What are you doing this weekend?”

If your answer is anything along the lines of spending time with the kids, sports, reading, writing the world’s worst screen play, going to the theatre, checking out the new cafe down on market – then bravo! If your answer is anything along the lines of “working” then, while I don’t doubt that you feel the genuine need to work, I do have to wonder about any weekend that features as much, if not more, work than a weekday.

I’m very guilty in this particular exchange. My wife has returned home after only two weeks away and I’ve already started to slip back into bad habits – not just doing work on weekends because I needed to, but assigning work to weekends as if they were weekdays.

See the difference there? It’s the difference between the reserve chute and the main chute, the emergency petrol in the jerry can to the fuel tank – it’s the difference between a temporary overload and workaholism.

I understand that many of you are under a great deal of pressure to perform, to put marks on a well-define chalkboard, to bring in money, to publish, to teach well, to do all of that and, right now, there aren’t enough hours in the week let alone the day. However, how you frame this mentally makes a big difference to how you continue to act… and I speak from bitter, bitter experience here.

Yesterday, I talked about things that I hadn’t achieved. Yet, today, I talk about taking the weekend off. No work. Minimal e-mail. Fun as a priority. Why?

Because the evidence clearly indicates that the solution to my problem lies in getting rest and sleep, not by reducing my ability to work effectively by working longer hours, less effectively. If I am to get the whole concept of student time management right, then it should work for me as well – as I’ve said numerous times. My dog food. Here’s a spoon. Eat it up.

Are you working so hard that you can’t focus? Is it actually taking you twice as long to get things done?

Then rest. Sleep in. Take a day off. By simple arithmetic, skipping a day to get back to higher efficacy is a good investment. Stop treating the weekends as conveniently quiet days where nobody bothers you – because everyone else has taken the day off.

That’s what I noticed when I started working weekends. The reason it was quieter is that, most of the time, no-one else was there. Ok, maybe they didn’t ‘achieve’ as much as I did – but how did they look? Were they grey, or jaundiced, tired and listless, possibly even angry and frustrated on Monday morning? Or were they bright and happy, full of weekend chatter? Did you, pale and wan, resent them for it?

Look, we all have to work weekends now and then and pull the occasional all-nighter, but making it a part of your schedule and, worse, cancelling your life in order to work because you tell yourself that this is a permanent thing? That’s not right. If it was right, your office would be full on weekends and at 10pm. (p.s. if that’s your company, and you’re working 80 hours a week, you’re terribly inefficient. Pass it on.)

Now, I’m going off to sleep. I will post some more over this weekend but most of it is scheduled. Let’s see if I can practice what I preach.

One Comment on “You Are Reading This on My Saturday”

  1. 🙂 Bravo Nick! I too struggle with the concept of setting time aside. This summer (in Canada) I took time and set aside a Sabbath, not from a religious perspective per se, but from a healing perspective; to let the spirit recoup. It takes a conscious effort and I, like you, fell back into bad habits once I got home and into my ‘normal’ routine.

    Thank you for articulating what many of us need to hear.



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