If I had a penny for every time the phrase "This weekend was too short" was uttered during watercooler talk at the office, I would be a rich woman. Well, I'd probably be able to buy a large coffee and a pastry from Starbucks with my earnings at least.
But seriously, why do some (most?!) weekends feel so short? It's like you feel the rush of leaving the office at 5 p.m. on a Friday and then you blink and suddenly you're on your Monday morning commute.
The reason that weekends seem to fly by (and not in a good way)? A lot of us aren't mindful about what we're doing. "Weekends feel short because we don't think about how we're spending our time. We're so busy during the week [that] we get to the weekend and think we want to do 'nothing,'" Vanderkam says. "But doing nothing is a recipe for a completely forgettable weekend. When we say 'Where did the time go?' what we generally mean is 'I don't remember where the time went.'"
Luckily, there's an easy solution for this: Make a plan. "Spend time intentionally! I recommend thinking about the weekend beforehand, and coming up with three 'anchor events'—three things that you'll enjoy doing, with the logistics worked out," Vanderkam suggests. "Maybe a bike ride with a friend, dinner with your partner, worship services, or volunteering somewhere. When you know good things are coming up, and when you have an answer to 'What did you do this weekend?' the weekend will feel more rich and full."
This sounds easy enough. It's not like the plans aren't enjoyable, or things you wouldn't normally do on the weekend, and you probably already have these things in mind, you just haven't set them yet, or even thought of them as anchor events.
And maximizing your weekend doesn't stop with just thinking of three things to do. Vanderkam shared other tips for getting the most out of Saturday and Sunday:
Minimize Your Binge-Watch
Okay, we get it, sometimes you need a weekend to do nothing, and that's fine. In fact, I just had one recently after a very busy week at work when I felt so exhausted by Friday that I wasn't up for socializing or leaving the house. I ended up binge-watching an embarrassing number of shows on Netflix and spending way too much time in one pair of leggings. (That's real life, everyone!) For those weekends, I tell myself that I can't really complain about them feeling short, and I chalk it up to a mental health reset. That's what's helpful for me, but everyone is different.
But you can't do that every weekend (and if you do feel that way every weekend, you might want to talk to a health care provider about these feelings as it might be a sign of depression). So for the times when you don't need to decompress and be a hermit for 48 hours, Vanderkam recommends limiting your binge-watch.
"Make sure your fun isn't all 'effortless fun.' This is stuff like TV/Netflix/web surfing—while [it's] somewhat enjoyable, it's not particularly memorable," she says."'Effortful fun' is getting together with friends, having adventures. You want to do more of those things. Some effortless fun is okay, but not the entire weekend."
Don't Sleep in Too Late
A lot of us like to catch up on sleep over the weekend, but many of the sleep experts we've talked to said if you sleep in for too long, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. Vanderkam agrees: "In general you want to get up within an hour or two of when you would during the workweek. This keeps you from feeling as tired on Monday as if you just got off a flight from Europe."
Take It Easy on the Chores
This might be the best advice we've ever heard. "In general, I recommend compressing chores and errands into one small window," Vanderkam suggests. "That way, you don't lose your whole weekend to these things. If you designate, say 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday for cleaning your house, when you find yourself looking at a mess some other time, you can relax, because you know there's a time to deal with it, and now is not that time."
Of course, we're not saying ditch your chores entirely, because some big household projects or errands might take much longer. It's not like you can put off packing your whole house when you're moving in just a few days. For most weekends, though, when you don't have to dedicate both days to KonMari-ing your home, pencil in just a few hours of errands and chores and fill the rest of the time with fun things.
Avoid the Sunday Scaries
The Sunday blues are real, but you don't want to waste the whole day thinking about Monday. "Plan something fun for Sunday night! This stretches out your fun," Vanderkam says. "Go to your favorite exercise class, or go for dinner with friends. That way you spend Sunday afternoon thinking about your upcoming fun, rather than about Monday morning."
Plan a Weekend Trip
This will definitely maximize your fun, and doing a lot of activities will make the two days feel even longer. "Day trips definitely stretch the weekend. But they require you to plan ahead, which is a good thing," Vanderkam says. "If you've got great weekend plans by Wednesday, you can spend Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday looking forward to your fun. That stretches some of the weekend vibes well into the week!"
Now that you've got some tricks to "extend" your weekend (without having to call in "sick"), you might feel more motivated and excited for Monday. Or at the very least, you won't be filled with dread Monday morning.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions. See our full health disclaimer here.