As a pupil, I hated the fact that I needed to attend extra classes on Saturdays and do my homework on Sundays. I felt that my right to enjoy free weekends was constantly violated. I thought that it was unfair. Then I became a student with a part-time job, which required me to work not only in the morning, but also for several additional hours at night and on the weekend. As a result, I was in a state of permanent stress and exhaustion, but I knew why I was doing it, so it kind of made perfect sense.
When I graduated and started working full-time for the first time in my life, I had to adjust my life to my new schedule. Luckily, the clothing brand that hired me was tiny, so I was able to work from home for quite some time. It was bliss, whenever it was not. While working hard and doing my best to help the company grow, I was also trying to keep on writing. Even though it was neither my career, nor a source of income, I wanted to write more than I wanted anything else. I wanted to write more than I wanted to sleep after a 10-hour Friday and I wanted to write more than I wanted to sleep at 5am on Sunday. I wanted to write. Period.
My overflowing desire to write not only for my blog and my Medium page, but also for other outlets led me to a new kind of schedule. The one that I stuck to for almost 2 years, and the one that I think is an optimal option for me and maybe even for you. I started waking up on the weekend as early as I did during the workweek in order to have enough time to read, write and rewrite. This was one of the best decisions in my life. Not only did I realize that waking up at the same time every single day eliminated the problem of painful Monday mornings. Also it enabled me to feel fulfilled even on the weekends and much less stressed afterwards. No matter what day it was, I kept on taking steps towards my goal.
Last summer, I quit my job and I moved from my home country Ukraine to Sweden to attend a Master’s program in Stockholm. My life changed again and so did my schedule. Fast-forward to the end of May, when I submitted my Masters thesis. I was exhilarated and exhausted, I felt drained both mentally and physically, so I decided to have a whole weekend off. I would spend both days lying in bed, reading, re-watching Friends and eating. Maybe I would go to a cozy cafe to drink coffee, maybe I would eat ice-cream in a park. Maybe! What I would definitely not do was write, work or do any kind of research. I would have a proper day off without a plan. No, a whole weekend off. For the first time in months, I would have an actual weekend off. I would have rest, I would gain my energy back.
What happened next was a surprise and a major disappointment. I was bored and anxious. Yes, I needed some time off, but I did not need all the time in the world. I just needed some of it. After this 2-day experiment, I discovered that no matter how tired I was, I preferred to spend a few hours reading and writing every single day. Yes, writing is a challenge on its own, but it is also a source of joy and contentment for me. Last, but not least, it makes me feel fulfilled, and this is the state that I crave on any day of the week.
So, maybe you work your ass off every day for five days in a row and then you stay on your couch for two days expecting to feel better afterwards. Don’t! Those two days cannot make up for the five before or after. Perfect balance does not exist, but it does not mean that you should not aim for it. Have a look at your schedule and decide what could be done on Saturday & Sunday. Have a partially productive weekend to have a less stressful workweek.