Sunday used to be for relaxing, spending time with family and friends, or catching up on personal tasks. Now, I talk to more and more entrepreneurs who say they don’t use the weekend to rest nearly as much as they once did. Maybe it’s because technology, and even some popular online advice, encourages people to stay available for work even outside traditional business hours.
A 2017 survey from Enterprise Holdings found that nearly seven in 10 Americans put in a full workday (the equivalent of nine hours) on at least one weekend a month. The same survey also noted that two-thirds of respondents felt their employers expected them to work over the weekend. Also, 61 percent said they struggled to not think about work over the weekend. Of these, two-thirds also admitted they checked and answered work-related emails on a typical weekend.
To that I say, put Sunday– and work– in its proper place.
For the sake of our health and our sanity, we should stop or at least work to minimize “Sunday work creep” and put it back to Monday through Friday where it belongs. You should work to regain this balance, even if you’re in the middle of building a startup or are a freelancer facing inconsistent income.
Here are some ways to win back your Sunday from people (including yourself) who are trying to use this day of rest as an extra day of work:
Stop the guilt
There is no reason to feel bad about taking an entire day off from work. It’s necessary for physical, emotional, and mental health, as well as for productivity and creativity. Coworkers or colleagues should also recognize the value of letting you “recharge your batteries.”
To stop feeling guilty about time off, you need to ignore the naysayers and your own negative thinking. Focus on what you can accomplish and plan time to relax, too.
Remove yourself from the work environment
While it’s convenient to have an office at home, it’s also very easy to fall into bad habits. You may think you’re just checking your email, sending a quick invoice, or writing a to-do list for Monday, but you’re really just opening the door to work. As long as you are near your office or see it, you may work when you don’t need to. Step away from work by leaving your home on a Sunday to do something different, opting for time with family, friends, or your furry companion.
Or, take the whole weekend away to decompress. That could include checking out of social media, email, text messages, and messaging platforms like Slack. You can even try a silent retreat. When you do get away and remember how good it feels, it can become easier to stop thinking about work. Your work will always wait for you, but life will pass you by if you don’t take part in it.
Set limits and retrain those around you
For freelancers who create a flexible schedule, there are those times where work on a Sunday is necessary. But, if clients or employers see or hear from you over the weekend, then they they’ll either be annoyed because you’re cutting into their rest time, or assume it’s okay to contact you — even if you don’t plan on working every Sunday.
Rather than confuse them and frustrate yourself, set limits and retrain those around you to still see the weekend as your time away from work. To do this, keep your chat availability set to “away.” Don’t announce you are working on those days. And, don’t correspond or send work out.
Instead, share your digital calendar to your clients or employer. It’ll show them what days you are taking off, whether they’re during the week or the weekend. Also, work on and deliver projects when your actual week begins. This gives you the chance to work without interruptions or notifications from your messenger, text, or email.
Plan for Monday on Friday
Part of the reason many people find themselves working on Sunday is because they want to prepare for the week ahead. They’re tempted to send out agendas, emails, questions, or even new assignments Sunday night. Sometimes that half hour you thought you’d need turns into a few hours of work.
Instead, create your Monday or full-week plan on Friday before you step away from work. Devote a half hour to this. Use scheduling tools to write emails and messages and deliver them on Monday morning. If you think about it, there’s no real reason to use Sunday for this task in most cases when Friday works just fine. Apply this thought to almost any aspect of work, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving the balance that Sundays should be known for.
Originally published on Inc.
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