If you’re a Downton Abbey fan like myself, you may remember the very dry and very privileged, Dowager Countess innocently inquire: “What is a weekend?” around the dinner table one episode when Matthew Crawley was discussing getting a job on top of his duties on the estate.
The viewer is struck by the Dowager Countess’ humour and implausible lack of understanding that a weekend is when you don’t work – you do something different from your usual routine.
For many of us, it’s the two days a week we are accustomed to having “off” in a traditional work environment.
But yet – much like the running of an estate, which needs to be attended to 24/7 – what happens if you are running your own business? Or parenting full-time?
Do we ever really take a whole weekend off?
Which also begs the question, what does “off” really mean?
What do YOU do on the weekend?
If you’re a self-employed entrepreneur like myself, you probably rarely take a “weekend” in the classic sense of the word. You grab every available few minutes to “catch-up.”
Perhaps do that paperwork you have been putting off; get your invoices out; catch up on some reading… you know, those interesting blog posts you save on Facebook to read “when you have time.”
Well, this past weekend I actually took a whole “weekend” O-F-F and it was SO refreshing!
I barely thought about work at all. I hung out with friends and my family in the mountains.
Watched a movie just because.
Just generally took the weekend OFF.
And it felt great. More than that, it left me refreshed for Monday morning.
Do you ever take a whole weekend off?
What would happen if you actually did?
Here are FIVE reasons why you should take a whole weekend off:
- To Maintain Your “Hum”
I recently watched a Ted Talk by Shonda Rimes on her “Year of Saying Yes to Everything” and the impact it had on her life and her work.She talks about the pleasant “hum” of her life disappearing as she became too busy.
Even though she was doing things she loved and was successful, her “hum” gradually disappeared the busier she became.
The moral of her story is: even if you love what you’re doing, if you’re doing too much of it it won’t be worth doing. Taking a weekend off will help you maintain your “hum.”
- To Open Your Creative Mind
I know I do my best creative work when I have the space to think. When we’re too busy, there’s no room to expand your mind and allow it to think of new ways of working, create, and being open to what shows up.
In an article in Scientific American, researchers back my own observation up with science by proving that “the mind obliquely solves tough problems while daydreaming – an experience many people have had while taking a shower.
Epiphanies may seem to come out of nowhere, but they are often the product of unconscious mental activity during downtime.”
How often have you had your best ideas while taking a shower or drifting off to sleep?
Your brain and your body may be in a “down” state but in actual fact is always working. When do you do your best creative work? I bet it’s not between 9 and 5 when your “to-do” list takes priority.
- To Maintain a Balanced Lifestyle
This component is particularly important to me, and I hear it from so many of my clients who crave more time to do something…. else. Many people over-identify with work and hence don’t take the time on the weekend that can serve them, to keep them energized and motivated for the life’s work they get paid to do during the week.
Of course, I also have clients who are working at getting back into the workforce after a career break, who are desiring more life balance with more time at work.
Whatever it is you’re after, if you don’t take a break from your usual routine, you are in danger of not maintaining the balanced lifestyle you long for, whatever that means to you.
- To Get More Work Done
Taking time off has also been known to boost productivity in the workplace. It has been proven that learning and memory depend on rest and taking breaks. So does productivity. It is not happenstance that the 35-40 hour work-week was created with mandated 15 minute mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks and a lunch hour on top of that.
Yes, this tradition may have been created before the smartphone culture took over our lives, but it is still rooted in value.
There is also Parkinson’s Law that says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you have seven days to do five days of work, will you take all seven to do it? Very likely.
- To Have Fun!
Yes, you deserve it! And really, do we need all these reasons to give ourselves permission to take a weekend off? If all the reasons we have for taking the weekend off points to us being more productive and effective during the week, perhaps we’ve lost a big part of the point.
Let’s just have some fun — whatever “fun” means to you. Go camping. Take a hike. Read a book. Have a nap. Hang out with friends. Enjoy a movie.
Just enjoy. Your mind, your body and your spirit will thank you for it. And probably your family and your co-workers will too.
So, I contend that taking a weekend off every once in a while will keep you motivated at work, boost your creativity, help you maintain a balanced lifestyle, increase your productivity, and entice you to have more fun.
Do you need any more reasons? I challenge you to take next weekend off, then reply in the comments below and let me know how it went.
What did you do – or better yet, not do? What did taking a whole weekend off give you? Your life, and probably your family, will thank you for it.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”