If you’re like us, your work week is insanely busy; your to-do lists are overloaded and your inboxes are out of control. And then, the weekend arrives with the promise of redemption: This will be the weekend you do all the things that have been preventing your ascension to greatness. You will answer your emails. You will deep-clean the bathroom. You will make lasagna and freeze it for later, in practical, single-serving squares.
Or, you know, you could not. You could do none of those things, and your life will still be fine. Better, even. I know, it’s hard to accept for me, too. But hear me out.
Why Weekends Are Important
Weekends are not spare weekdays. Their purpose is not simply to allow extra chore time to better brace yourself for the week ahead. The point of a weekend is to refresh and relax and restore, and also remember why you like the people you have chosen to spend your life with. (Also, hiking. I mean, that is what I hear. I would not know, firsthand.)
Is this in part a justification for laziness? Maybe. But also, there is evidence: “Rest is not idleness,” proclaims one study on the merits of true downtime. Relaxing makes your brain work better, and spending time doing pleasurable things, rather than obligatory things, is likely to make you happy, according to research (and also common sense).
5 Things to Leave Until Monday
So for your health and your brain, consider delaying the inevitable — here are five things to table till next week.
A caveat: It is possible — likely, even — that you are not in a position to delay some or all of these tasks, due to the oppressive limitations of reality. That is understandable. It is also possible that you are a person who takes great pleasure in laundry, or shopping crowded grocery stores, in which case, I am impressed and please carry on.
1. Grocery Shopping
Weekends seem like optimal shopping time because you are theoretically less busy, but that is what everyone thinks, which is why grocery stores are frequently mobbed on weekends. If possible (and it is not always possible), save your bigger shopping trips for mid-week. Tuesday evening, for example, is a delightful time to go to the grocery store, I have found.
If you have your own washer/dryer, ignore this, and launder on at your leisure, cackling smugly. I am jealous. I hope you are enjoying it. But if you are beholden to the Laundromat, consider slightly postponing your spin cycle. Like grocery shopping, laundry is an ideal weeknight activity, and not only because it will be less crowded (although it will be).
Laundry is an ideal weeknight activity because it is fundamentally less disruptive to your life. Two hours on Sunday is prime relaxation real estate. Two hours on Thursday is whatever.
3. Work Email
Yes, sometimes this cannot be helped, either because of professional obligations, or because the idea of being out-of-touch for a whole two days is too anxiety-provoking to contemplate. (I am not making fun of these people. I am these people. What if someone says something?)
But if you cannot actually unplug yourself from your work inbox, you can at least minimize your contact with it. Just because someone emailed you on a Saturday doesn’t mean you have to respond on a Saturday. Flag it and move on with your life of (temporary) leisure. You are the one being reasonable here.
4. Anything Small but Unpleasant That Can Be Done on Your Lunch Break
Do you need to: mail a letter, argue (briefly) with customer service, or return ill-fitting pants? Excellent. Delay. Basic life maintenance can surreptitiously eat your weekend, but do these errands over lunch, and they become a productive little break from the monotony of your workday. Also, in my personal experience, the sheer efficiency of dropping your boots off at the cobbler during lunch will make you feel very virtuous.
5. Obligatory Socializing
There is a particular breed of social encounter, frequently in the form of “getting coffee” that is not unpleasant, but also is not a particular treat. You like these people! It is just that you do not want to lounge with them in a meaningful-yet-restorative way. That is no problem. That is what happy hours are for. (Alternative: frozen yogurt.) Schedule your requisite social contact for weekday evenings, clearing your weekends for more elective encounters, solo adventures, and the Real Estate section of the New York Times.
How do you maximize your downtime on weekends?