Weekends are sacred, especially if your workweek often includes late nights. And they’re not to be taken for granted. But the difference between what you hope to get done (quality family time, everything on your to-do list, getting some blessed shut-eye) and what you actually get done (binge-watching the shows on your DVR) can be a tricky affair.
Here’s how five successful women make the most of their weekends.
A typical workweek for Alicia Menendez, host of Come Here and Say That, might include a sit-down interview with Chelsea Clinton or Taylor Swift, or commenting on anything from the 2016 election to the release of the Apple Watch. As a result, she says, “Friday nights always feel like hitting home base during a high-stakes game of tag. I am loathe to make plans that require attire beyond sweatpants.”
Her Saturdays begin with barre class with a friend, followed by the most quality time she and her husband will spend together all week, she says. “If we stay up past 10:30, it has been a crazy night.”
On Sunday mornings, Menendez unwinds with yoga followed by laundry. Sunday evenings are exclusively spent with family — either dinner with her in-laws or her husband.
But her weekends are not devoid of work.
Alicia purposely carves out a short period to catch up on emails and review scripts, which helps her better manage her upcoming week (which, in turn, allows her to continue having relaxing weekends). “It helps allay my anxiety when requests come in on Friday or Saturday because I know I have time to manage them before the workweek begins,” she says.
Shabnam Rezaei’s weekends are all about family time, after a long week of running Oznoz, an online kids’ channel with cartoons like Elmo’s World and Babar in languages from French to Farsi. “I love the weekends because I get to spend the most time with my three-and-a-half-year-old, Aliana,” she says. “Saturdays are free-form days, since the rest of Aliana’s week is very structured.”
Rezaei and her family aim to spend the weekends taking mini adventures around their neighborhood in New York, like going for a swim, to the park, a birthday party, or a museum.
Admittedly, it’s hard to stay family focused when you run your own business, Rezaei tells me. ”I look at Oznoz as my first child, so we talk about work a lot at home. Even Aliana gets involved with testing stories we write, games, and books.” Her best advice to stay dedicated to family time on the weekends? “Plan in advance. I’m always online looking for special family events like an Easter egg hunt or hunting down the best carousel in New York City.”
For Tiffany Aliche, a.k.a. The Budgetnista, weekends mirror her weekdays, especially since leaving her teaching job to pursue personal finance coaching. Rather than sleeping in like the rest of us on Saturday morning, Aliche is up by 7 for a yoga and meditation session, followed by a fruit smoothie and some social media work. It’s not uncommon for her to spend weekends attending speaking engagements, or to work on her business strategy.
That said, she knows that weekends should be spent relaxing, so she makes a conscious effort. “I try my best to take time to relax by listening to my favorite podcasts, catching up on my favorite shows on Hulu, and spending time with my family, friends, and boyfriend.”
To make sure she doesn’t get distracted from relaxation time, Aliche avoids email and Facebook. “My best advice … is to cut off your notifications [and] try to be more social offline versus online.”
For Julie Parker, CEO of Australia’s The Beautiful You Coaching Academy, weekends are a time to make more conscious food choices. Her weekdays are filled with appointments, events, and meetings, leaving little time to plan and prepare meals.
Weekends are dedicated to slowing down and taking her time in the kitchen to try new recipes. “I love to go to the farmers market and get an abundance of fresh ingredients,” says Parker. And the most special weekends, she says, are spent cooking with her 16-year-old stepdaughter. “She is quite the young lady. I've known her since she was a tot and it's been amazing to witness her grow up.”
To ensure she stays on track with her weekend meal planning, Parker leans on lists. “I get out a trusty pen and paper to make a meal plan for the week ahead. Getting things down on paper is the only way a plan is going to happen for me in a busy week!” she says.
Gretchen Rubin is one of the world’s most prominent thinkers and writers on the subject of habits and happiness. Her latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, explores how we can change our habits successfully.
Rubin has designed a number of weekend rituals intended to get the most out of Saturdays and Sundays. Every weekend includes a Power Hour: “one hour working on non-recurrent, non-urgent tasks — the kinds of little jobs that drag me down, but never get done,” she says. “I’ve found that something that can be done at any time is often done at no time, so I use ‘Power Hour’ to order a new office chair, fix my shredder, make a photo album from my last year of photos, etc.”
To successfully create your own Power Hour, Rubin writes in her book that it helps to draw up a list of tasks you want to accomplish that have no deadlines and are not recurring (so, not paying bills). Instead, create a list of to-do’s that you keep postponing.
An avid reader, Rubin likes to squeeze in some book time on weekends. “I have something called ‘Study Time,’ when I spend an hour doing ‘study’ reading. That means reading a book that’s not for work, but something that I just want to read.” Her latest read: Ardor, by Robert Calasso.
Farnoosh Torabi is a best-selling financial author and host of the award-winning daily podcast So Money. Sign up for her VIP community and get instant access to her e-book, So Money Secrets: Financial Habits of Highly Successful People.