How to make your weekends from home still feel like weekends

Do we still know what a weekend is anymore?

The longer we stay under quarantine, the harder it is to keep track of what day of the week it is anymore, and even more difficult to determine whether that day is for work or for rest. With pretty much everyone stuck at home now, countdowns to the weekend have become irrelevant, a thing of (what feels like) a distant past.

By now, many of us have probably adjusted to working from home and set up our daily routines for prime productivity. That's great.

But just because we're working from home doesn't mean we won't experience burnout – which isn't just counter-productive in the long run, but also increases the likelihood for a host of other conditions – from depression, to high blood pressure.

We're all already anxious about the post-pandemic future – we don't need to top it off with work-from-home burnout.

As productive as we have managed to become under quarantine, we also need to learn how to be NOT productive, which is why weekends are as important now as they have always been – perhaps even more so. 

Pre-quarantine, a quick trip to the beach or even, say, a day spent window shopping and dining out did wonders for decompressing from a stressful week. Without access to those pleasures, what else can we do to unwind?

We asked several full-time professionals and freelancers working from home about how they've been spending their days off under quarantine.

Based on their experiences, here are a few tips on how you can maximize your weekend:

Schedule it!

Ironically, stepping away from work involves as much discipline as starting work.

As a freelancer, voice talent Inka Magnaye has had an unstructured work week even before the quarantine so she set times for work and for rest, to make sure one doesn’t overtake the other.

“At this point I don’t differentiate between weekdays and weekends anymore. I just try to plan my day and schedule everything from work to exercise to recreation,” she said, explaining that even as her schedule shifts, she tries not to schedule any work for Sundays.

Having something non-work-related planned for the weekend might help keep you from the temptation of checking your work emails or doing things related to your job.

As TeamAsia managing director Bea Lim pointed out, your weekend schedule doesn’t necessarily need to be busy – but planning how you’ll be spending the weekend ust means you have something to be excited about.

“Like on Tuesday, say ‘on Saturday, I'm looking forward to reading my book,’ or ‘on Saturday I'm looking forward to making enchiladas for the whole family,’” she said. “You set yourself with a goal that this is something that you want to do over the weekend – not necessarily accomplish it, does that make sense? You're not looking to accomplish it, you're doing it for yourself.”

It might help to kick off the weekend by accomplishing a chore. It’s an activity that can help you feel productive, but it’s not work-related. For instance, Bea starts her Saturdays by doing laundry, which helps remind her that it’s not work time anymore.

“That has actually helped me really know it's a weekend, because I need to concentrate on the house now,” she said.

Find a pre-quarantine weekend habit and see how you can adapt it to current circumstances

Pre-ECQ, a typical weekend for lawyer and entrepreneur Kevin Baldonado meant going out with his friends – a habit that has since turned into video-calling with them.

Videocalling with his friends every week allows them all to talk about what’s happening and process the situation together. At the same time, he said that it’s “a way to cling to the old habits we had before everything changed.”

If you spent weekends at the cinema, maybe set up your own movie night at home (the internet has endless options for films to watch atm), complete with cozy pillows and popcorn. Or perhaps you used to spend weekends going on hikes and enjoying the outdoors? While that’s impossible now, you might feel the same closeness to nature by starting a home garden.

Choose a hobby or two that you’ve been meaning to get back to or truly enjoy, and save your weekends for that

As Inka shared, “to make my weekends really feel like weekends, that’s when I would do a lot of my favorite hobbies like skate or maybe go out of town, to the beach.” Now that she can’t go out, Inka instead kicks back with a drink – which is one way to go about recreation time.

For Bea, it was getting back to reading an deepening her yoga practice.

“Saturday and Sunday, I do my full practice – about an hour to an hour and a half that I give myself just for me. And then I cook, either on a Saturday or on a Sunday for my family. Again, cooking gets me in that zone that it's my weekend and I'm on my break,” she said.

“And my favorite – and I'm so proud of myself for doing this – I read a book a week and I do this on the weekend. I'm reading books that excite me, books that I've always wanted to read,” she said, explaining that she made a conscious choice to veer away from business books.

“That has helped me really say, it's the weekend, it's time for this, and it's me time, and I need to label this as me time. And you'll be surprised that the weekend has gone by just with me time,” she said.

In Kevin’s case, he works out, plays the guitar, or enjoys the occasional video game. Doing these things, he said, helps him power through another week of work.

Prioritize family and friend time

If your work week is filled with online meetings, emails, and work chats, a good way to take your mind off it is to fill your days off with family time, even if you have to do it virtually too.

With her mom and brother also working full time from home, Bea and her family have synced up their schedules and decided that Friday nights are the beginning of the weekend – which means that as much as possible, that’s the time that they all stop working, have a meal together, and spend time together playing board games and chatting.

This might be extra challenging for parents who are working from home while also taking care of their kids – but as mom of two Niqui Cui shared, it’s just a matter of giving her kids a daily schedule so they’re kept busy while she’s working.

Niqui, who is a fitness instructor, gives keeps her kids preoccupied with art or yoga classes via Zoom while she’s conducting her own online training. This way, once they’ve all finished their own to-do lists, they can maximize the time they spend together.

While their family used to travel a lot before the quarantine, Niqui says that she and her husband are using the extra time they have now to do things they love, and things they’ve always wanted to do with their kids at home.

Remind yourself that you deserve a break

If you’re having trouble putting the brakes on work, remind yourself that you can’t be productive anyway if you don’t give yourself a break. As Bea said, we all have to be kind to ourselves.

“Yes, it's stressful, we're on survival mode, we are in this global crisis, and that's very stressful and that stress prompts us to work, work, do this, this, this. There's a pressure to do things,” she said. “But we need to be kind to ourselves and say that we cannot pour from an empty cup.”

“The weekends are days that we need to keep for cup-filling for ourselves to re-energize, rejuvenate, to reset ourselves to be fight mode again when the time comes on Monday,” she added.

Under this so-called new normal, weekends are certainly not as exciting as they used to be – but that doesn't mean they can't be as restful. As we've constantly been doing since the quarantine was imposed, it comes down to adjusting. – Rappler.com

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.

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