Question: What is the Purpose of a Weekend?
There are 48 valuable hours in a weekend. Here are my thoughts on what makes a great weekend.
I was looking for photos for this post and searched the word “weekend” on a popular image site. If one were to judge what a “weekend” was based on the photos, one would conclude that a weekend is a vacation or a time of leisure.
I would think that most people view the purpose of the weekend to be the same: a time to vacation, to maximise leisure, and to do “Whatever the hell I want!”
While I can understand the attraction of a day or two of not working, I think it’s unfortunate that too many of us view the weekdays as necessary evils we need to endure in order to pay the bills or feel like we have some sort of use in this world, while weekends are our “free days”, days to do whatever we want.
What’s so bad about having days to do whatever we want?
Nothing’s bad about it. But it’s also not great. One of the things I need to remind myself over and over is that just because something is “not bad”, meaning it’s not wrong, doesn’t mean it’s “good”, doesn’t mean it’s “great”. When we make decisions with a simpleminded “good or bad” criteria, we many times make the mistake that whatever is not bad is automatically good. This leads us to make a whole range of wrong decisions about the value of things. Let me give you an example:
You’ve had a long week at work, the weekend is coming. You’ve planned to sleep-in on Saturday, but not too long, since you saw on Facebook that there’s a new breakfast place in town. You read that the wait is about an hour, so you plan to be there about 9am, have breakfast at 10am with your best friend, then go see a movie after. Because the movie you want to watch isn’t until 2:30pm, you figure you can kill time in between. It’s a weekend anyway. You watch the movie, it ends at 4:30/5:00pm, then you go to try the newest dessert place in town. The wait is also about an 30 minutes long. By the time you’ve lined up, ordered, and eaten, it’s about 6:30pm. You meet up with other friends for dinner at another Instagram-worthy place, and have a 3-hour dinner, dessert, and gossip session. You go home, it’s nearly 10:00pm, and one hour to midnight by the time you’re in bed. You switch on Netflix and watch until you fall asleep – IF you fall asleep – because the series might be so good, you may just want to watch the whole season.
Sunday morning, you really sleep-in. You need to. You were out all day Saturday and you binged-watched the night before. In fact, you’re more tired on Sunday morning after a whole day of leisure than you were Saturday morning after a whole week of work. So you really feel like you need to rest on Sunday because tomorrow is Monday! But what’s Sunday like? You go to church (Thank God for the movie-like time slots!), on the hours you’re not in church you have a long Sunday lunch that leads to even more leisure that’s usually in a mall and usually not that restful. So by the time Sunday evening hits, you’re not rested, and you’re dreading the idea of having to face Monday.
So you tell, me, is that weekend good or bad?
It’s neither. You didn’t do anything bad that weekend. You can argue that you met up with friends, went to church, watched a good movie, had good food, and took awesome photos to share. All of that is good! So since those things are good, you must have had a good weekend. But since you’re feeling dread for Monday, and feelings of dread are “bad”, then Mondays must be bad. And what makes Mondays bad? It’s the start of the work week. Starting work, ending leisure, is bad. We don’t like that. That’s why we dread it. So this simple idea of not-bad automatically being good, makes us a miss a very obvious, easily provable, fact:
You are dreading Mondays because you’re tired. And you’re tired because, yes, you had leisure, but you didn’t use your leisure to rest and recharge. The activities you chose, in that example, while not bad, aren’t helpful in preparing for the coming week. So you enter the week tired, then you wonder why your work is taking-off, and then you’re discouraged by your lack of success in the week, so you can’t wait for the weekend. To do what? To escape the hardship of the work week, to do “Whatever the hell I want!”
Again, there’s nothing bad about that kind of a weekend. I personally, don’t want to spend 2 of my 48 hours in line (4.1%), nearly 20 hours just hanging out with friends (41.6%), over 4 hours of entertainment (8.3%), 2 hours in traffic (4.1%), and 4 hours killing time (8.3%), and I haven’t even included sleep! If one were to sleep the recommended 8 hours a night, that’s 16 for the weekend, or 33% of your 48 hours. But because you want to maximise your weekend, you actually end up sleeping less! No wonder you’re tired. That’s nearly ALL the hours of your weekend combined. That’s your weekend’s utilisation.
Now here’s the question we should be asking instead of “Is it bad?”
“Is this activity beneficial?”
What Makes Something Beneficial?
To keep it simple, I’ll use this definition of beneficial: something that contributes to progressing you towards your goal.
Let’s say, it’s your goal to become a first class graphic designer. Would a weekend like the one I just described above be beneficial to you?
The clear answer is no.
So, if your goal is to become a first class graphic designer, and you want to constantly progress towards that, then you need to make changes to your schedule and add time to, for example, “study designs”, “go to a museum”, “connect with other designers”, or “practice sketching”. Those activities progress you.
Now what happens if your goals for the weekend are multiple? That’s awesome! Your goals everyday should always be in multiple areas. For example, for every weekend, it’s my goal to spend time with my family, rest, study, exercise, catch-up on reading, grow spiritually, and be ready for the coming work. I “try” not to work, but it’s really been hard for me to remove work completely on Saturdays, so I squeeze that in too. And on most weekends, I’m actually able to progress on all those areas. How? Because the weekend has 48 hours! That’s a lot of time!
But here’s what I’m not doing with my 48 hours: I’m not killing it waiting in lines. I’m not killing it with no direction. Even my “free time” is a block of time on my schedule called “free time”. I’m not killing it hanging with people for hours and hours and hours. I’m not killing it by letting social media decide for me what’s a good way to spend my weekend. I know my goals. I’ll schedule in such a way to progress in my goals.
Remember one of my earlier posts, Begin with the End in Mind.
(RE)Start Your Weekend
Rethink the way you spend your weekends by trying a (RE)Start approach to deciding on what to do. Here’s how I’ve designed my weekends.
#1 Wake-Up Early – EVEN on weekends
Every day is made up of time. When I feel like I don’t have enough time, I remind myself that it’s not more time that I need but better use of my time. The 24 hours in a day does not change. One way to have “more” time, is to have more “awake” time, the time you spend pursuing the things that are important to you. This starts with waking up early. This allows you time
#2 Schedule Your Rest
If you’re going to wake-up early, you’re going to need to schedule your rest. I used to pack my weekends with way too many activities that I would be so tired coming into Mondays. I’ve changed that. I used to take naps a lot as a kid, and on weekends, If I’m tired, I’ll take a nap.
Other than naps, I’ve been choosing activities that help me rest and recover, like playing with my son, reading something that isn’t connected to work, and drawing.
People recharge in different ways. The important thing is to be deliberate about your rest.
#3 Choose activities that contribute to your goals
Too many times, we choose activities based on our whims or social media’s suggestions. While there’s nothing bad about spending your time this way, it’s not optimum for achieving goals. The simple reality about doing what everyone else is doing is that you will get similar results as most people. Do you think most people achieve their goals? Do most people even have goals? Do most people achieve financial independence? Do most people live healthy lives up to old age? Do most people improve a wide range of skills? Do most people impact the world in a huge way? Are most people able to do all of the above?
The answer is no.
So depending on what you want out of your own life, choose activities that contribute to their attainment. If you’re ok with getting the same results as most people, if you think that most people are living awesome lives, then do what they do. It’s not a question of good or bad, it’s a question of what results you want, and the activities you need to be engaged in to achieve those results.
The Big Picture
As I type this, I realize that many of my ideas only make sense if one has a purpose, a big picture in their heads of the thing or things they want to accomplish. There’s a Proverb that goes:
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
– Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)
In the King James version, it uses the word vision instead of revelation.
It’s interesting to see the author partner vision / revelation with wisdom. It talks about the contextual nature of wisdom, that wisdom isn’t simply one right formula to apply to everything, but knowing how to understand what is wise based on the vision or revelation by which you live your life according to.
Should you play party all night? Depends on the vision / revelation you’re living according to.
Should you play computer games for hours? Depends on the vision / revelation you’re living according to.
Should you work on weekends? Depends on the vision / revelation you’re living according to.
Should you take a class? Depends on the vision / revelation you’re living according to.
Should you spend time with your kids? Depends on the vision / revelation you’re living according to.
I can go on with the thousands of shoulds we could be choosing, but you get the point. All those shoulds are really coulds, and depending on what vision / revelation you’re living according to, if you really are committed to it, the coulds turn into clear shoulds, because those are the activities that lead you to your goals. We are free to choose our activities, but we are not free to choose the consequences of those activities. Might as well be proactive in choosing the ones that lead to your success – whatever success is for you. (Here’s an article about figuring out what success is for you.)
If you only take away 3 things…
- Schedule even your weekends around your goals, not around your whims and social media’s suggestions.
- The question to ask isn’t “Is this activity good or bad?” but “Is this activity beneficial?”
- The line is not between Work and Rest but Activity and Rest. Even if you’re not working, if you’re leisure activities are not restful, you will not be rested heading into the work week.
Note: If you have any questions you would like to ask, you have three ways to get in touch with me: