A free weekend

Friday, 1:04 PM ET.
A text from me to my husband:

Do we need to take anyone home

Indeed, as a newly-minted director with people working for me, a significant amount of my work has turned into emailing people instructions, giving feedback, and distributing tasks.  By Friday afternoon, I had sent out all the emails I had to send and would need to wait for the results before moving forward on any of my projects.  Given the timing…I decided I could leave the office (metaphorically since I work from home) for the week.

I checked in with myself: Did I feel guilty?  No. I’ve put in more than enough hours in my first month as a director to allow for a handful of half days, let alone a couple of hours. Also, would I need to spend the weekend on family commitments which—let’s face it—can feel more like work than work? Nope, none of that either.  Were we traveling anywhere, which I always love but it can still be exhausting? That is a big. fat. N-O.

Last week I saw a tweet discussing an article on workplace productivity.  Not having the time or energy to read the article in the middle of a workweek, I can’t tell you what article actually said, but the accompanying tweet suggested that long workweeks tend to shoot employers in the foot: A true 40-hour workweek (with protected nights and weekends) leads to greater productivity and creativity among employees.

In general, I dislike the higher-ed Twitterverse’s insistent hammering on work-life balance and not working so-long hours just because you can (because it’s ableist!).  I don’t like this particular rabbit hole because some inhabitants will shift the responsibility (and the blame) for toxic work-life to the individual worker instead of employers or reward systems or work culture.

However, the idea in this tweet—that free weekends provide opportunities for mental breaks and curricular activities and therefore can enhance your productivity—I really can’t imagine anyone or anything arguing against that statement, so neither will I. Therefore, I will grab on to the premise with both hands and test it out.  I have an opportunity for a free weekend, so what will I do with it?

It’s approximately 1:00 pm ET Sunday, 48 hours after I knocked off a little early from work on a Friday.  Here’s what I did and how I feel about it.

I napped and

Yeah, I don’t do this unless I’m sick and rarely then. I’m not saying it will be a go-to activity but it was a 30 minutes well-spent at the moment.

Also checked out a Power Class at the gym

I’m not usually a group fitness person (it’s been 15 years since my last class), but my husband wanted to try it out.  What I noticed (beyond my really sore chest muscles) is that it’s a great opportunity to find friends, and I really need and want more friends in my life.  Note to self: this activity is a keeper.

Before roaming around a Barnes and Noble where 

So this was a promise to our daughters—the only way my husband and I could get them to the gym (right next to the Barnes and Noble). And it meant that I got to look at every magazine layout and book display while the kids were struggling with their book choices. Favorite teen quote: “Let me just tell you…that Oscar Wilde?  Man, he had to deal with a LOT.” While I was there I got some great ideas for work projects AND a fun book for me too.

I considered starting a book club.

Yeah, so this happened at Barnes and Noble when I was watching the groups of women sitting in the cafe, wondering how I might be able to find friends who would meet with me in the local Barnes and Noble on Sunday morning.  I am a little chagrinned that the group I thought was a book club was actually a group of admins putting together a CME conference agenda, but hey—my dream of having friends to meet at Barnes and Noble lives on.

The whole family also did dinner out with friends 

And at a new restaurant at that. I just said I need more friends and yet I’m eating out with friends, so let me explain: these friends really belong to my husband.  I can sometimes feel a little bored at these dinners in part because these good people aren’t the type to help me dissect the menu font or consider the color palette of the room or how Billie Eilish and Jackson Pollack might be the same phenomenon or the photography exhibit at the VMFA or how to plan a hypothetical trip to Estonia…in other words, sometimes I struggle to connect with my husband’s friends. However, I made the decision not to drink alcohol and my sobriety helped me stay engaged.  I was able to find questions to ask them that I actually cared to have answered.  It was a really nice outing.  Note to self: sobriety makes things more enjoyable.

And I texted another friend. 

Because let’s be clear—I do have some friends. This weekend I actually had time to chat with one and it made me feel more grounded.  Note to self: Sometimes you get in your own head with work stuff and NOT in a good way.  Connecting with friends and family is what talks you down from the ledge.  

I also ate a leisurely breakfast with the family and

Sunday morning. At the kitchen counter. Bagels. Will all the accompaniments. Espresso. Listened to the Mamas and the Papas. Considered how the sun changed the colors of the cut flowers at the end of the counter.  Talked absolute nonsense about very little. It was lovely.

Eavesdropped on a teenage card game while also

I live-tweeted a little about this on Saturday.  I love my daughter’s friends.  They listen to Paganini and swear in several languages and argue over exactly which is the best ship to stan in Merlin (the TV show), but ultimately they are really just sweet kids. Their noisy card playing added a great element to what I was doing at the time downstairs which was…

Studying two information graphics books I ordered last week.

More ideas.  Still flummoxed though on how to take interesting pictures of books for IG.

I also uploaded pics of the teen cave to Instagram

Because I’m also flummoxed on how to take interesting room shots for IG.  Maybe practice has to make perfect at some point.

And listened to Bossanova music

Because in the workweek I get stuck in the grind of what works for me while I’m working (classic rock and 90s alt), driving (80s pop), and waking up (Beatles). Paganini and Mamas and the Papas is one thing, but Bassanova elevates the non-musical grind experience to a whole new level.

While I got a brilliant idea for a work project.

Indeed. I already messaged my boss. That whole productivity part? I know what my next project is.

Finally, we will be watching a family movie tonight and 

We stick to 30-minute classic comedies on the weekdays because that’s about all we can stay awake for.  We are all in on the 2-hour storyline for tonight…

Take notice—I blogged. 

I haven’t done it in a really long while.  I started this post with the intention to record and remember and also to appreciate what a good, solid weekend off can do.  But in the process, I noticed something—most of my notable activities are about making connections with friends and family, as well as taking a moment to explore music and books and ideas that don’t necessarily directly fulfill the requirements of work products.

However, it’s funny how so many of these weekend activities will also feed into my work-life.  That may be related to the type of work I do and the freedom I have in guiding the creative direction on many projects (thank you, work).  But that’s kind of an aside here. Really, the real lesson is that weekends are for making connections, deepening relationships, and trying new things—and for this reason, it’s fundamentally important to protect them.

Featured Image: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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