Sleeping in. Surfing the web. Catching up on laundry. Ferrying the kids to taekwondo. If that sounds like your typical weekend, take half an hour this Saturday or Sunday, tear yourself away from email or the latest Kardashian goings-on, and read Laura Vanderkam’s new e-book, What the Most Successful People Do On the Weekend, the sequel to her best-selling What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
Vanderkam, a mother of three and author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, has made a name for herself tracking how ordinary and not-so-ordinary human beings spend their days. Perhaps because she has studied the kinds of behaviors that make people feel both efficient and happy, she has kept her new e-books short-ish; you can consume each in about 30 minutes. (After all, no one wants to spend the better part of a weekend reading a self-help book.)
What she has discovered: The movers and shakers among us bring the same focus to their weekends (and their mornings) that they do to their work week, planning their play time rather than simply vowing to relax. Mike Huckabee gets up at 6 AM to ride his exercise bike and peruse the papers, followed by a day at the beach and a barbecue; Dominique Schurman, CEO of the gorgeous stationery chain, Papyrus, tackles her garden, experimenting with color and texture in a way that feels “more tactile” than the kind of thinking she does on the job.
Vanderkam herself gets her husband to grill a steak for her or makes a point of trying a restaurant with “a Zagat rating of 23 or above.”
If you’re in the crowd that believes the perfect weekend will simply unfold, there’s quite a bit of inspiration here. In a world of iCal and Outlook, you’re probably reluctant to pencil in activities for Saturdays and Sundays, too. But Vanderkam believes you should—because you’ll be happier for it. The trouble with most weekends, she asserts, is that “relaxing” too often turns into aimless engagement with electronics (or dull chore-based routines).
Before you know it, it’s Sunday night, the familiar Monday-morning dread sets in, and you wonder why you don’t feel physically rested or mentally energized.
Using research from positive psychology experts—plus the common sense observations Vanderkam is known for—What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend is a pithy reminder that the weekend can and should be the best part of the week, filled with family and friend time, creative recharging, exercise and yes, napping.
But like the best things in life, you have to put a little muscle into making it happen.