Number 5 – Weekends
My fifth blog in my self-assigned challenge to write a blog every day until Christmas and this is the first one to fall on a weekend. It’s got me thinking about the way we structure our working week and whether the idea of a ‘weekend’ is necessary or important.
Ultimately weekends seem to exist as a kind of antidote to the week. Therefore, weekends are there as a way to redress the balance between work and personal life. But surely two days isn’t enough time to give to your personal life, compared to five days that are typically given over to work? Have we outgrown the standard working week?
Now, many people obviously don’t have a typical weekday/weekend divide in their lives. If you work shifts, for example. But as more and more of us start working from home, is it time to make our work support our home life rather than the other way around?
When you work from home, it’s generally advised that you keep your work-space separate from your living space. That way, you can shut the door on your work at the end of the day or end of the week and relax. But that immediately suggests that work is a source of stress that needs to be kept away from the rest of your life at all costs. Now, this is where the problem lies, if you’re dedicating 5/7 of your week to work, then isn’t that stress already going to be a major part of the rest of your life, whether you like it or not?
Instead, could the answer be to do little bits of work throughout the week? Just short, sharp bursts – little and often. Slotted in around all the other stuff that you actually want to do – talking to friends and family, going for walks or runs, doing exercise, reading, watching TV. Work is part of your life, so why not make it so, rather than cutting it off and isolating it, as if it were someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19.
This might be a terrible idea and I’m yet to fully try it. But my point is more that we need to start putting our lives first and our work second. Work is designed to support the life we want to lead, not dictate it.
To take a tangible example, I was talking with my fiancée the other day about where we would ideally like to live. This new world of remote working has suddenly opened up more possibilities. Where before getting in and out London, Southampton and Salisbury were priorities for us, now, as long as we have a decent internet connection, we could be based pretty much anyway. It struck me that so many people end up living where they do, not because they like it there, but because it’s convenient for work. They might tell themselves that it’s worth it for now and that they can retire to the place they really want to be. But that means you’ve still lived the vast majority of your life in a place you never really wanted to live! Plus (let’s be brutally honest) there’s no guarantee you’ll live long enough to see retirement (especially as the retirement age keeps going up and up!).
In other words, maybe now is a fantastic opportunity to take a look at what life we actually want to be leading. Where do we want to live? What aspects of life are genuinely important to us? How can we maximise the important stuff and minimise the superfluous stuff?
Ultimately, how can we forge a life that we want, not just a career? And, if we’re living the full, rounded life that we really want to be living, how much do we still need a weekend?