Is it even possible to make a weekend productive?

Weekends are like rainbows—they look great from a distance, but once you get up close to them, they start to disappear. Do your weekends fly by too fast? Do you sleep until you’re hungry then eat until you’re sleepy? Or, are you hoping to craft a weekend that’s memorable, relaxing, and productive? Here are some ideas on how to improve your weekend time.

Make a plan

No weekend plan likely means you’ll end up mindlessly binge watching or swiping left and right. Failing to think through what you want to do on the weekend may make you give in to the ‘I’m tired’ excuse that keeps you locked indoors.

You don’t need a micromanaged, minute-by-minute playbook, but sketch in three to five “anchor” activities. Make a plan for how you want to spend the weekend and–even if all goes wrong in the moment–you’ll still derive pleasure from anticipating your fun.

A weekend well-spent brings a week of content.

Don’t try to do it all

If you wake up with a list of 20 to-do list items, you’re setting yourself up for stress and failure. The key is to prioritize so you get the most important things done, not all the things done. That way, you allow yourself the time to do them well.

Errands and chores

It’s easy to think, “When else am I supposed to get stuff done?” Rather than letting errands and chores take over your whole weekend, designate a specific time. Schedule them like you would anything else during the week, and if you don’t complete them during the allotted time, you move on and finish them the following weekend. Giving yourself a small window makes you more motivated to get chores done quickly so you can move on to the fun things.

Family time and adventures

Spending quality time with your family on the weekend is essential if you want to recharge and relax. Weekdays are so hectic that the entire week can fly by with little quality family time. Don’t let this bleed into your weekends. Take your kids to the park, go to a favorite restaurant, or visit your parents. You’ll be glad you did.

Weekends are great for exploring. Make a bucket list of activities you’d like to try within a two-hour radius of your house. Maybe it’s biking along the boardwalk. Maybe it’s camping in a nearby park. Whatever it is, remember that life can’t just happen on vacations, so make room for some serendipity. Knowing that you have something interesting planned for Saturday will not only be fun, but it will significantly improve your mood throughout the week.

Sunday night blues

Instead of using those last few golden weekend hours to check through all your boring work emails, do something you’ll actually look forward to. Take the time to reflect on the week gone by. Reflection is something you should be doing daily, but weekends are a great time to step back and think about what made you smile, what you’re grateful for, what you’ve accomplished, and how to make the next week even better.

Prepare for the upcoming week

The weekend is a great time to spend a few moments planning your upcoming week. As little as 30 minutes of planning can yield significant gains in productivity and reduced stress. The week feels a lot more manageable when you go into it with a plan because all you have to focus on is execution.

Glance at your calendar, and set goals for what you’d like to accomplish in your professional and personal life over the next 168 hours. Schedule these high-value activities in. Once Monday morning hits, you’re in a firefight. So, figure out how you’ll advance your troops, rather than just digging in.