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How do I become productive on the weekends? I note down tasks to do during the weekends like doing pending work, collecting some documents, meeting old friends, doing chores etc. but when it actually is weekend I postpone these task hour by hour and waste my time by watching movies, doing nothing or unplanned work.

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Remember that productivity isn't always about work (defined broadly). It's also about being productive in other areas of your life. –  Raystafarian Mar 27 at 15:32
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5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted

One of the biggest keys to productivity that I've found in my life is setting realistic goals.

On Thursday afternoon, when I think of something really cool and beneficial that I'd like to do, it's very easy to say, "Oh yeah, I'll do that on Saturday, I'll dive right in and work away on that for hours, and it's gonna be great!"

On Saturday morning, I often find myself saying, "I really need a break this weekend; I'll feel overworked if I don't take time to relax this weekend."

Be honest about your desire to balance work, play, and rest on the weekend. You have things you want to get done, but planning throughout the week to make Saturday your 'productive day' will just make you feel stressed and guilty if you really need the rest but tell yourself you should be working.

A couple concrete suggestions:

  • Take mtashev's advice and limit the number of tasks you plan for yourself
  • Make sure at least one of the things on your list is short and easy - a great way to kickstart a productive streak is to check something easy off the list.
  • Plan the fun stuff too! Put the book/game/movie you've been dying to get into on the list. Productivity isn't just about getting work done, it's about getting life done. The fun stuff is part of life.
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+1 for "a great way to kickstart a productive streak is to check something easy off the list" - so true –  Fiona Taylor Gorringe Apr 3 at 8:21
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Consider that procrastination is caused by impulsiveness (based on research by Piers Steel). If you set large goals or possibly even medium goals, you may instinctively avoid them in order to allow impulsive behavior. If you postpone goals to the weekend, they may reach a critical point where they are so stressful it's very tempting to find a distraction and ease your mind temporarily.

Most of us are culturally programmed to think we are supposed to rest on weekends. This may cause you to feel uncomfortable with "actual work" on the weekend. You may need to convince yourself that it is not really work but something fun that you'd like to do.

tl;dr

  1. Consider taking on small and simpler tasks.
  2. Start working on tasks in the weekend only if they are not pressing.
  3. Imagine ways to convince yourself the task is lots of fun.
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Do not push yourself too much in the weekends. If you do you might not start at all.

Set priorities and do not try to take on more than 2-3 tasks. Do not plan too much as you will falsely feel as if you accomplished something simply by planning.

Train yourself like a dog. If you must get a task done then do it immediately and as a reward watch a movie afterwards. Right after the movie do the second task you've planned, then reward yourself with playing games or 'do nothing'.

Take this approach and you won't feel like its a weekday where you work straight for hours. Even if you don't accomplish all the tasks you've set, it's much better to complete 2 out of 3 tasks than 0 out of 6. Then the fact that there is just only one task left and you will be 100% done if you complete it, will push you to the finish line.

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Perhaps it is more productive to do nothing? I find I function optimally when working 4 days and resting 3 days. Fatigue is the biggest productivity killer, often in the form of procrastination. If you're procrastinating on your weekends, chances are that you need more rest.

If you really must do something, set up a reward system for weekend tasks. Have an extremely easy task set up for the weekend, like "call a friend", then reward yourself with a movie if you accomplish this task. For some reason, calls can be difficult to make, and I find that self-reward with a scoop of ice cream helps a lot.

You should look into the Getting Things Done (GTD) system if you haven't already. Set up a GTD for yourself, basically large list of things you want to accomplish in your spare time. A major cause for procrastination is not being sure what you want to do.

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Trust me you don't need a shrink's advice on this because they always end with "Solution to your problem lies within you". In regards to your question I'd say I went through the same and finally came up with a solution. I used to finish all these tasks over the weekdays itself in whatever time I had and the leftovers seemed too easy and got completed over the weekends. I tried to keep the leftovers to barely nothing. Initially it seemed tough to extend the weekdays effort but trust me its similar to like your mother telling you "Clean out your closet if you want Pork Chops for dinner". Your body will extend the work in lure of a lollipop you'll get over the weekend.

For almost everyone, weekends are heaven-like, birth right that should be enjoyed to the fullest. Don't let yourself go through the guilt ridden feelings even while watching the movies over the weekend.

Again, this solution is a personal experience and not an advice.

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Don't discount therapy. It can be an effective method of treatment for an unhealthy belief system. –  manuelhe Apr 3 at 20:17
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