Book Review

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“What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off”
Author: Laura Vanderkam
Publisher: Penguin, 2012; 47 pages

Have you ever ended your workweek with a heartfelt “thank goodness it’s Friday” only to go back to work on Monday feeling more worn out and exhausted than you did three days earlier? It’s no wonder, what with the digital creep of work into our out-of-office time and lives and the fact that many Americans now maintain near superhuman recreational and household calendars.

Unfortunately, returning to work feeling depleted and worn out is a surefire way to start off an unproductive week -even if you did get your basement cleaned out or wrap up that lingering report that was due Friday over the weekend.

After her exploration of “What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Money)” and “What the Most Successful People Have for Breakfast,” author and time management expert Laura Vanderkam is back, sharing her findings on the topic of “What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off.”

Here is just a sampling of the insights this super-short book has to offer:

1. “Keep a (tech) Sabbath.” Referencing Bible verses that explained that the Sabbath is intended not to create another rigid rule, but to ensure that people, their servants, oxen and donkeys had sufficient rest for the week ahead, Vanderkam encourages readers of all faiths to take time every weekend to observe a “stretch of time apart from the computer, phone and work stresses” in order to “create space for other things in life.”

2. “Put first things first.” Vanderkam borrows an exercise from the late author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey that involves organizing your priorities by first articulating to yourself the various roles you play in life that are important to you, then specifying the top two or three priorities you’d like to accomplish in each role over the 168 hours (week) to come.

3. “Life cannot happen only in the future. It cannot wait for some day when we are less tired or less busy.” Vanderkam points out that marathon runners know they require rest and cross training to make progress and have breakthroughs. In the same vein, she proposes, those of us who work hard, long hours during the week need to spend our precious, weekend moments doing completely non-work-related activities in order to store up the fleeting, precious memories of present phases of life with our families and to build skills and have insights that will make us better at our work.

“If you work long hours,” Vanderkam writes, “then weekends are key to feeling like you have a life that is broader than your professional identity, even if, and probably because, you take that identity very seriously.”

You might think the idea of a book about how to spend your weekend is silly or unnecessary. If you are routinely frazzled on Monday or you are committed to achieving peak performance in your career and your personal life, suspend your skepticism. If you fall into this description, I strongly recommend taking this super-short tour Vanderkam offers through a different way to experience your weekends in order to elevate your experience of your entire life.