Plan and schedule a few key events to structure the weekend around. They can be large (an all day hike), or small (picnic lunch, reading a book), but either way, its a great way to keep yourself moving during the weekend - and perhaps more importantly, from slipping into the house chore or email routine. If you are married or have kids, tell them about your plan – it will help you stick to it as well as help you pick the best time for the activity.
We like planning because its fun, and the anticipation accounts for a large portion of our happiness, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert. Meaning that as we make plans and look forward to them, this anticipation brings us joy as we count down until the even itself. Fulfilling our plans also brings happiness, giving a sense of accomplishment.
Relaxing by the river in the afternoon
Just be careful not to plan every hour of your weekend. You want a few anchor events, but should also leave enough flexibility for spontaneous fun.
Bucket lists are great, but when “visit Machu Picchu” or “see the northern lights” top the list, it can be daunting, and instead of tackling weekender or day-trips, we may end up on the couch instead.
So rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed by big dreams and ideas, break down your list and set aside some smaller dreams that can be accomplished in a day or two.
Cape Cod is a great place for a weekend summer sail.
Great ideas include taking a cooking class, skydiving, getting a boater’s license or learning to scuba dive, a weekend camping trip, a white-water rafting trip.
And don’t be afraid to find something you haven’t done in a while. Maybe a walk on the beach collection seashells is exactly what the weekend is calling for.
3. Get the “life chores” out of the way during the week.
It might be hard to come home after working all day and then scrub the bathroom floor, but because you have less time during the week, you’ll get it done faster.
There is no limit to how much time house chores can take, and it’s easy to let the weekend slip away, starting another house chore before you have finished the first one.
Be disciplined that you are either not going to do house work on the weekend, or, if you must, that it goes on the schedule and it too has a set start and end time.
Also, take the time Friday afternoon to prepare for Monday. This will prevent you from having the Sunday-evening slump, where you start thinking and worrying about everything you need to do to get ready for Monday work. By taking care of this on Friday, such as scheduling emails and preparing a Monday to-do list, you'll free up your Sunday night.
Unplug from social media, email, and phone calls for at least a few hours each day on the weekend. Whether is your sacred morning hours or evenings that you prefer, be sure to unplug for a bit.
Easier said than done – you plan to meet a friend at 7pm for dinner, and they are late, so you check your phone (just for a few minutes), and before you know it, 10 new things are on your “must do tonight” work list. Instead, to help resist the temptation, travel with a book or magazine at all times, so you can dive into that instead of your cell phone while waiting.
If your weekend plans don’t involve much exercise, try to find a place to fit it in. Just 5 minutes of walking in the morning can jump start your metabolism, and studies show that those who walk outside before starting their day are happier and more alert for the rest of the day.
Alternatively, plan an anchor event or two that involves exercise, like an afternoon wildflower hike, a swim in a mountain lake, or, in the winter, get some friends together for a game of squash or a gym workout.
Attempting aerial-yoga for the first time at the beach
Worst case? Even if exercise is not possible, try to avoid sitting, which has been shown to slow your metabolism and change your body’s physiology. For example, if you are painting, do so standing up, or invite friends over and prepare a feast – moving around the kitchen can burn a lot of calories and keep your body active!
Image from Kalev Fitness Solutions
Most importantly, don't forget to RELAX. Its what the weekend is for.