Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The benefits of not working at weekends

Someone posed a question on Twitter last week – should we work at weekends? I’m guessing the question was directed to people like me who have a computer based job with enough freedom to decide when, where and how work gets done. Not those who work set hours determined by someone else.

I have become quite a fan of Twitter. It has taken a little time for me to get used to it: at first I thought it was just silly. But little by little I have grown to find it quite useful.

So – what an interesting question – should we work at weekends? He followed up by saying it was very tempting - which indeed it is.

Going back a few years I always worked at weekends, and certainly during the time I did my MBA I had no choice – weekends were quiet time to get essays written and books read.

These days I find it difficult to switch off completely on Saturday and Sunday (although I do get the hang of it more by Sunday). My mind is still buzzing with ideas and thoughts on whatever project I am working on. The big difference, however, is that I don’t have to get to my desk by a set time, and I don’t feel compelled to start doing things. I can just let my mind turn the thoughts over and play with ideas. I often write them down in my notebook to come back to later. Not really work, but a change of pace and style. It’s often a time when I re-evaluate the direction I’m going with something, or question whether my approach is right.

It’s pretty similar to the phenomenon that most of us are familiar with – having an idea in the bath or while we are driving or going for a walk. The brain is still working away long after we think we have moved onto something else. That’s why the advice to sleep on a problem is normally wise counsel. A bit of time and space, and a chance for the cogs to turn slowly on an issue mostly produce a better answer than trying to solve it there and then.

So with the exception of the urgent report, or necessary emails from the week before, I come down on the side of not working at weekends. Letting the mind have a chance to rearrange and reorder seems like useful enough work for the two days sandwiched between frenetic weekday activity.


  1. Totally agree. I think it's really important to do something different on the weekends, or at some time during your week to break up the monotony. I work from home, so this can be difficult at times though, but I know my quality of work is so much better when I've had a break and proper rest. Thanks for posting!

  2. Hi Melanie

    More and more of us are working from home, or at least have the option to work from home some of the time. Rest and recharging isn't always given proper attention in this 24x7 internet culture, but we end up more productive for it!

    Thanks for your comment.