97. Reclaim Your Weekends in Four Simple Steps
You’re looking forward to getting some rest and rejuvenation over the weekend, but it goes by in a flurry with this event and that errand and those late-night hours binge-watching the latest show. Before you know it, it’s Monday again, and you don’t feel rested at all, much less ready to face the week. Is there a better way to do weekends?
In this episode, Courtney, Verbs, and Blake discuss why what you do on the weekend matters. They walk you through 4 tips for getting the most out of your weekends, so you set yourself up for the energy and clarity you need to succeed in the coming week.
In this episode, you’ll discover—
- Why the Ideal Week and Daily Big 3s are not just for work
- The value of creating weekend rituals for your family
- How scheduling your Weekly Preview frees you to let go and relax
- That rest is not a reward but an asset that helps you produce results
Verbs: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Courtney Baker and Blake Stratton. Happy Monday to you both.
Blake: Happy Monday, Verbs.
Courtney: Happy Monday, Verbs.
Verbs: Thank you kindly.
Courtney: Blake, I feel like… We’re still virtual. We’re recording this via the Internet, but I feel like, if we were together, you need a little hug.
Blake: Yeah. I’ve been sick for a number of days, an undisclosed number of days. I was in bed a lot. A lot of naps. So, if I fall asleep in the middle of this podcast, just know that it’s not because I think you’re boring, but it’s not not because I think you’re boring.
Courtney: Oh, okay. It’s good to know, Verbs, where we stand in this equation.
Blake: Speaking of rest, we had an amazing re-June-venation last month.
Verbs: Yes, indeed.
Blake: But I kind of feel like I still want some rejuvenation, so let’s talk about what we all work for here: the weekend.
Verbs: The weekends.
Courtney: Well, first, let’s say that is not what we work for. I mean, that’s why we promise you’re going to love Mondays again. It’s because we want actually not for you to be just working for Friday evening. I certainly have been there in my career. I don’t know about you two. Literally, when I was like, “What do I have to do to make this week get done faster so I can just get to Friday night?”
It literally was what I was living for, and it was not a very healthy place to be. I’m so thankful I’m not there anymore. For everybody out there who is feeling like that, today is a great episode. That’s what this podcast is here for. Hopefully you find some good tips and resources to help you start loving Mondays again.
Blake: Cut to the montage of tired, frustrated Courtney in the background. “Everybody’s working for the weekend!”
Verbs: Blake, I’m glad that even though you’re sick, you still can maintain those sultry vocal tones. Thank you for that.
Courtney: That was pretty impressive.
Verbs: It was impressive.
Blake: I didn’t technically choose a key just now, so that may have come across, but the heart was there.
Verbs: So, guys, what we’re talking about today is that feeling you get when maybe you’ve reached Monday and you feel like the weekend just happened, and before you know it…Boom! Monday hits. I think it’s true that weekends can be the craziest time of the week, and it’s easy to get swept away, but what you do on the weekend actually matters. Great weekends are the foundation for great weeks.
That’s why these happy Mondays are so vital and so important. When your weekends are restful, fun, and productive, you have the energy and the clarity you need to succeed starting Monday morning. You can create weekends that actually work for you, but, as we’ll talk about today, it takes intentionality. So, we’re walking through four tips for getting the most out of your weekends. Guys, help us out with the first tip.
Courtney: The first tip is to identify your priorities. Listen. Out of the gate, I just have to say… We have this free tool called the Vacation Optimizer, and anytime we talk about it, there’s a part of my spirit that wants to reject that. It’s like, “Vacation and optimization? Ooh, that doesn’t go together.” You may be having some of that same initial response to what we’re talking about today.
So, I just want to acknowledge that you might be like, “Ooh, getting the most out of weekends? No. I want to do the opposite. I want to get nothing out of the weekend. I just want to veg on the couch.” But hang with us, because I think what we’re trying to lay out here is how to leave the weekend feeling your best.
I think that vegetative state we want sometimes… What we really want is to come out of the weekend feeling great, and we think by having no intentionality with our weekend, just being able to binge-watch Netflix, that’s going to give us that, and I don’t think that’s the case. So, if your initial response is, “No! I don’t want to do anything with my weekend,” just hang with us for a minute with these tips. So, that’s my first disclaimer.
The first tip, again, is identify your priorities. What do you want from your weekends? A great way to think about this question is to reflect on your weekends you’ve loved. What have been weekends that, when you think back, you’re like, “Oh, that was so fun”? For me, I think about… This was early in 2020.
My husband and daughter and I would take a hike. We have a greenway in our neighborhood that goes several miles back in the woods, and we got in a habit of doing that on the weekends. I loved those weekends. So, think back about the weekends you’ve loved and find out what the components of those weekends are.
Blake: I’m just imagining different kinds of biscuits with bacon and cheese that I’ve had. When you said that, I’m like, “Oh, well, I had a bacon, egg, and cheese there. Oh, I had a bacon and cheese and then a doughnut there.” So, that for me…
Courtney: So yours relates to food.
Blake: That’s a priority for me, which I would say is another disclaimer. Sometimes when you’re… Especially listening to a productivity podcast, you think, “Oh, my priorities should be X, Y, and Z.” There’s no “should” with this. In fact, this tip won’t work for you if you’re borrowing what you think your priorities should be. This is just something that you have to stay true to yourself.
So, for me, my priorities are to eat some tasty food, drink some coffee, have a little bit of dad alone time, and finally… Oh, what was my last one? My mind is fading. Oh, not making any decisions. That’s why I couldn’t remember it. I don’t really want to make any decisions, which kind of leads to the second tip, which is to make a plan.
I’m so reluctant to make plans on the weekend, but mostly, I think what I’m resistant to is using my weekend time to plan, which I think is why this tip is so powerful. I don’t want to be on Saturday and be like, “Oh, what do we do? Should we do this, do this?” I’m like, “No. I want to rest my mind.” So I like this tip: make a plan.
Verbs: What’s interesting also, Blake, kind of coming out of that first tip, is asking the question… Well, let me say this. This is helpful for me. What do I want to feel like by the end of my weekend? That kind of helps work backward as far as what I will plan or what I will intentionally spend my time doing. It’s easy, especially when you have family, when you have smaller kids… Things can just happen during the weekend.
You know, you’re learning about birthday parties that are all day Saturday, or a few birthday parties. Once you get through a couple of parties on a weekend, you’re pretty much done, but at least if you can give yourself a heads-up and then plan some times of rest in between that… For me, it helps prepare my mind to still get in that rest and consider everything we have going on that needs to go into a plan for the weekend.
Courtney: That is such a good tip. Usually, when you finish the workweek, the exhaustion, if you’re in a professional job, is mental exhaustion, so having an outline for the weekend is really helpful. I do think it’s important… You don’t have to have a really rigid plan. You don’t have to have every 30-minute block scheduled.
There are two tools that can help you here. It’s the Ideal Week and the Daily Big 3. Again, you’re probably not going to schedule out every 30 minutes, but if you have “Hey, these are the most important things for me to accomplish today,” the Daily Big 3 can be a really helpful loose guideline for your weekend, for your Saturday and your Sunday.
Blake: Yeah. I think this is where some people get tripped up, Courtney. They hear “Daily Big 3” and they think work, because the only thing they use their Big 3 for is a work context. When you’re suggesting that, what would show up on a weekend Big 3?
Courtney: That’s a great point. We say over and over again, and we’re going to keep saying it over and over again… Just as a reminder, even your workdays… We don’t want you to have all of your Daily Big 3 work items. Those should, just like your goals, encompass a lot of life domains. Actually, guys, you should celebrate if… For example, one of my Daily Big 3 happens to be this riding challenge, and I knew it was going to be a struggle to get in this ride, so I actually made that workout one of my Daily Big 3. So celebrate when you’re like, “Hey, this is something outside of work in my Daily Big 3.”
Some examples might be errands you need to run, social events… It could be a chore. It could be “I’m going to take our family to the zoo.” It could be “I’m going to take a nap today.” Depending on your life stage, that may take some intentionality to actually get that type of rest in. There’s a whole list of things you can use your Daily Big 3 for, but again, it’s just going to give you some loose structure for what you want to accomplish each one of those days.
Verbs: If I can sneak this one in as well, Courtney: using that self-care in the Weekly Preview, especially the Connect line. Because of your schedule during the week, you may not have time for a good solid connection for whoever you would want to spend time with, but give yourself a heads-up in that Weekly Preview and jot down some names of some friends or family you would want to connect with, knowing that the weekend is coming, and plan for that as well.
Courtney: That’s a great point.
Blake: For me, when it comes to planning, I actually lean more into our next tip. I guess maybe it’s a form of the Ideal Week. I think the extent of my weekend planning… Admittedly, it’s not my greatest strength, but it’s probably Friday nights. Friday night is typically the night where my wife Alaina and I will have a little date night. Last year it was kind of weird because we wouldn’t go out as much during COVID time, but that’s usually what I’ll put some brain power in.
Beyond that, there’s not a lot I can get up for every week. I usually end my week kind of tired, ready for rest, and when you’re tired and ready for rest, that’s when, at least for me… I don’t get excited. “Oh! I’m going to plan a super fun weekend.” But you can still use this… When we say the “Ideal Week,” essentially, what we’re saying is plan a structure one time.
Our third tip is kind of an extension of that that has been beneficial for me, which is create weekend rituals. You may have heard us talk about rituals on this podcast. We talk about morning rituals, workday startup, shutdown, evening rituals. Those still come into play. Not the workday ones, hopefully. Those can still come into play, but I’m more thinking of structural rituals.
For instance, a common one, especially if you live in the Bible Belt like we do… Sunday morning you go to church. You don’t make a huge decision. That’s just something you do that’s installed in your life. For my family on Saturdays, it’s understood… We sort of have a slow morning. Maybe Dad makes some hash browns with bacon.
Verbs: On biscuits.
Courtney: Always coming back to that bacon.
Blake: You know what? That’s what the weekends are about. Weekends are for bacon.
Verbs: Bacon and biscuits.
Blake: Then we switch gears. We go to a gym. We have this gym we go to that has some childcare. PTL for childcare. My wife will have a workout. I’ll have some alone time, do some journaling, kind of unpack the week. I like that. Then we go to the pool that’s there after that. It’s this wonderful summertime Saturday ritual that we planned one time, and it was like, “Hey, that worked.”
Everyone in the family gets what they need in terms of rest and rejuvenation. It has just sort of become a ritual. We deviate from that, of course, but it’s kind of a default… A ritual is great, because it’s a default motion rather than a ritual you’re unhappy with or just drift toward, like, oh, we just sort of do nothing and lie around and watch TV. I’m not throwing shade on lying around and watching TV. That could be a very great ritual for the right season.
Verbs: You know what, though? That can be deceptive when, like Courtney was talking about, you just want to veg out, binge-watch, or whatever. Depending on the type of binge-watcher you are… If you try to take a whole series in and you start at 8:00 at night and you’re not finishing that thing until 3:00, your whole week is messed up, because you will never catch back up on rest, and then you’re dragging through the rest of the week, and it is the opposite of a happy Monday.
Blake: Especially if it was Stranger Things and you end up having dreams about Demodogs. Then all of a sudden your dream life is threatened. You’re paranoid. You’re locking your doors.
Verbs: You’re sweating everywhere you go.
Blake: I’m not speaking from personal experience. You know, that might have happened to you.
Courtney: Might have happened. Well, I feel like probably some of our listeners fall into my camp, which is I have a hard time just sitting down and chilling like that. That’s not normally my MO, but the few times I do… I’m like, “I want to sit down and watch this show.” I wish everybody could see how hard Blake was laughing at me just then.
Blake: Oh my gosh. Courtney is like, “You guys, let’s have a restful weekend. Got up at 5:30, going to take a quick 10-mile jog, then it’s time for crafts.”
Verbs: Wait. Courtney, now you have to share what you did this weekend just to underscore what Blake just said.
Courtney: Oh, okay. My husband was going to be out of town, and I got a new desk, which I’m so excited about. I had these shelves that I was like, “I want to paint these while you’re gone,” and he was like, “Yeah, because that would be a great usage of your time.” I was like, “Yeah, I think it is.” I was like, “I can totally keep two children alive and paint shelves while you’re gone.” Which meant… Blake, you didn’t hear this story. I literally had to carry these shelves down a flight of stairs by myself, and I felt like, obviously, I’m the strongest person ever.
Blake: Well, that’s good. I thought you were going to say you accidentally painted one of your kids. Like, they were sitting on the shelf and you were just like…
Courtney: Legitimately, I had my 5-year-old out there helping me. She thought it was the greatest thing ever. I was like, “You know what? This moment is going to be about connection, not necessarily how great this paint job is going to be on this shelf.” But I do think my MO is like, “Ooh, what else could we get done around this place?” I think even when I get myself in, like, “Okay. Let’s watch a show. Let’s just sit here and chill…” I feel like after a certain amount of time, no matter what your personality type is, you’re like, “Okay. I’m done with this. I have to move my body in a different way.”
Blake: Oh no. That’s the sweet spot. When you start feeling those tingles, you know, your legs are falling asleep, that’s when you know it’s time to pull out the old phone and get to work on your DoorDash app. You can get those doughnuts delivered. That’s what I did this last weekend.
Courtney: So, what you’re saying is, basically, you relived that episode with Chandler and Joey from Friends when they’re sitting in their recliners and they have all of the deliveries sent to the apartment across the hallway so they don’t even have to get up to get their food. Do you remember that episode?
Blake: No. I’m a Seinfeld guy. It’s like “The Summer of George.”
Courtney: I’m sorry. Okay. We’ll continue this very important discussion later. I will save all of our listeners.
Blake: Weigh in in the Facebook group: Seinfeld versus Friends.
Courtney: Okay. I won’t even go there.
Verbs: Wow. That’s where it begins. Right there.
Courtney: Verbs, do you want to break this tie really fast?
Verbs: First of all, I will have to say that I have actually never watched an entire episode of Friends. However, I have taken in many episodes of Seinfeld.
Blake: You can’t make it through. I understand.
Courtney: What? Verbs, after the reunion that just came on, I started Friends back from the very beginning, and I would love to invite you to join me. I’m only in season 2 so you could catch up. I watch TV really slowly.
Blake: No true listener of our podcast is surprised at all that Courtney is a Friends person and I’m a Seinfeld person.
Courtney: That’s true.
Blake: If you needed a quick summation… Which is good. We need both of those for a highly productive podcast.
Verbs: I have a question, though, that may seem controversial, or maybe not, but I think a lot of our Full Focus users, especially in the community, have posed this question before. We talked about having a weekend ritual and using our Ideal Week tool to structure those, but how do you use or not use the planner on the weekend? Are you actually, on a Saturday, opening your planner, planning things, or do you do that beforehand?
Blake: Look at Verbs transitioning us back to being productive.
Verbs: I saw where that was going.
Blake: Wow. All right.
Verbs: It was crash and burn quickly there, so pivot.
Blake: All right. Full Focus Planner. Courtney.
Courtney: It honestly depends. I’m very similar to Blake in that we kind of have a rhythm. I will speak to everybody out there who has an unconventional schedule. My husband is a pastor, so Sunday is a workday for him. Friday and Saturday are basically his weekend, but Friday is a workday for me. Saturday is really the only day we have our whole family free, so we’re really intentional about trying to block that off.
I do come into the weekend with our ritual in place of what our flow for the day is. I may scratch out what my Big 3 is for each day of the weekend. I may or may not. Those three things are pretty easy for me to hold in my head, like, “This is what I’m planning to do,” but I’m not necessarily carrying my planner out on the hike with me.
I know people who do that, and for all of you listeners out there who carry your planners on your hikes… I’ve seen photos. I love y’all. Y’all are amazing. That’s just personally not how I work. Because of my “get all the things done,” for me, I need to have a little bit of, like, “I don’t have to have every second planned.” It’s good for me to have a little looser schedule.
Verbs: By the way, that may be a new product idea for people who jog with their planners. I’m just saying. You can strap it on your arm or your back.
Courtney: Is that our next April Fools? It’s the Full Focus glove but for runners. It could be on their back.
Verbs: A Full Focus backpack with a water pouch on the back with a straw. Stay planning and hydrated on your jogs.
Courtney: Stay tuned, friends. Stay tuned.
Verbs: What about you, Blake?
Blake: I don’t really use the day pages, but I definitely use the planner on the weekend. It actually rolls into our fourth tip, which is preview your week. That’s one of my more…
Courtney: Oh, wait. Hold on. That doesn’t count. I didn’t include that.
Blake: Yes, it does.
Courtney: I didn’t include that. I very much do that on Sunday evenings. Okay. Continue.
Blake: Well, I’m sorry. This is not your moment. This is my moment.
Verbs: The competition continues.
Blake: You lost it.
Courtney: I kind of like semi-sick Blake. He’s a little sassy.
Blake: Preview your week. We recommend using a tool in the Full Focus Planner, if you have one, called the Weekly Preview. This is your opportunity to learn from the past week and plan for your upcoming week. For me, I would say, there is no bigger difference that I notice in terms of tools in the planner… I’ll even say even above the day pages, there’s no tool I notice if I have not done it versus if I have done it.
If I do my Weekly Preview, I kind of know… I have a sense for each day and what the biggest priorities are, and I have my Weekly Big 3. Part of that is just the nature of my season of life right now. My Daily Big 3 is more or less the same almost every day. There’s only a handful of priorities I have to be responsible for day to day.
But without the Weekly Preview, I feel lost at sea a little bit in terms of what’s coming at me and where I need to place my focus, what I need to say yes or no to. Plus, I tend to feel lost just because… There’s some kind of energy boost I get from a Weekly Preview. We talk about what you need on a weekend. For me, I think I need to feel in tune with my own life, I guess, kind of where I’ve been and where I’m going.
Courtney: I could not agree more about the Weekly Preview. Honestly, what it allows me to do on the weekend is just to know on Sunday evening… You know how those work thoughts creep up during the weekend and your mind starts wandering. I’m able to say, “I’m going to set that aside,” because I know on Sunday evening I’m going to map out the plan for the week.
The Weekly Preview… Obviously, we talk about how powerful it is for the week, but I actually think it’s really powerful for my weekend because of that. I trust that I have the space to deal with those things that come up or the things I feel like I’ve forgotten or this big thing I have coming up. There’s a plan for that, so I’m able to be more present and not in work mode on the weekend.
Blake: That’s a really important point. I think that’s where things tend to occupy your mind: when you don’t know if you’ll have a chance to come back to that, so your brain goes, “Wait. Do I need to hold on to this right now? Do we need to do something about this right now?” Having that built in… All of these points kind of build on one another, from priorities to plan to rituals to this preview. Make the Weekly Preview a ritual. If you’re wondering what a good ritual to install in your weekend would be, this is it, because this is going to make everything else in your week and your weekend run a lot smoother.
Nick: There’s an episode of Lead to Win that has really stuck with me where Michael talks about… I can’t speak for Michael’s current life, but he says that at least one stage of his life he considered his weekend to start on Friday afternoon and run through Sunday evening. Basically, the idea I took was because he knew he was coming back to his preview and was going to prep for the week on Sunday evening, he could just let go entirely on Fridays and start his weekend right away, so there was a lot of freedom.
When he said that, “My weekend kind of ends Sunday evening,” it was an eye-opening experience to go it’s not about the time of… Like, “Oh, Sunday is weekend. That’s only for weekend.” He gets two full days of not thinking about it and all the freedom and joy and peace that comes from that, and then just because he schedules the time on Sunday evening, he’s like, “I’m going back into work mode,” and he finds that’s very helpful. I found that framing to be useful if anybody finds it helpful.
Verbs: I think that’s part of that whole restorative exercise of being able to pull away from having to think about something on a Friday and Saturday and just set it to the side. That way, when you come back to it on a Sunday evening, hopefully you’re coming with fresh eyes and a renewed way of looking at things that prepare you for that week ahead. It’s really necessary to let it just…not drop, but just don’t think about it for those two days. Give yourself that grace to not do that, knowing you have a moment built in where you’ll be able to put your attention back on there with a renewed perspective.
Courtney: And for everybody listening… Literally, even if you’re a pro and you’ve been doing Weekly Previews for… How old is this planner? Four years? I should know this. Guys, however old this planner is, you’ve been doing it the whole time. You have one of the OG planner subscriptions. Blake and Nick produced this guided Weekly Preview, and it is amazing. Verbs, have you listened to it yet?
Verbs: I have not yet.
Courtney: You have to listen to it. It’s so good. I actually got in the community, and everybody was like, “I’ve been doing this for so long. There were so many new things I learned.” Blake basically walks you through doing a Weekly Preview while you do the Weekly Preview. So, if you haven’t downloaded that yet, you can get that. It’s totally free. It’s at focusonthispodcast.com/preview. So, schedule a time on Sunday and turn that on. It’s awesome.
Blake: Yeah. I listen to it every night to fall asleep. It’s really comforting.
Courtney: Still funny while sick. That’s a good quality.
Verbs: So, the good news is you don’t have to get swept up in your weekend. When you identify your priorities, make a plan, create weekend rituals, and preview your week, you can turn your weekends into the foundation for productive, successful weeks. So, before we close up, do you have any final thoughts for our Focus on This listeners?
Blake: I can share a final thought.
Verbs: Please do.
Blake: This will be me mostly talking to myself, because I feel like this is an area of growth opportunity, as you might say, for me. When it comes to weekends, there’s a mindset shift we talk a lot about with our clients in our BusinessAccelerator program, and it’s this shift from thinking that rest and rejuvenation and even play and fun is this reward or this finish line-type of thing you get once you’re done with all the work.
If you’re struggling letting your work or hyper-productivity mode bleed into the weekend or you don’t want to use your planner because planning is so much a work thing for you, then you’re probably due for a mindset shift that I think almost every one of our BusinessAccelerator clients has had to go through themselves, which is just seeing it not as a reward or a finish line-type of thing but seeing it as an asset that will help produce the results you want in your life, in your work, in your career.
When you start to shift that, then rest and rejuvenation is not this reward that gets pushed away, that gets minimized, that shouldn’t even be planned for, because planning is work mode, so if you do get there, then you ought not to plan. When you make that shift to “No. Rest and rejuvenation is part of the productivity process for me. It’s essential for me to get what I want out of life, to produce at the highest level and what’s important to me. Planning is not something that’s just for work; it’s actually for yourself…” That’s when you can start to make that transition. You can eat that bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, knowing, “You know what? This is an asset for me right now.”
Courtney: “This right here is productivity.”
Verbs: Thank you for joining us on Focus on This. This is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so please share it with your friends, and remember to check out Blake’s guided Weekly Preview at focusonthispodcast.com/preview. We’ll be here next week with another great episode. Until then…
All: Stay focused!