By Jack J. Kelly
If you are an avid reader of my newsletter and blog, you are clearly highly intelligent, motivated, driven, and career oriented.
In addition to providing the freshest news, insights, and job opportunities, my mission and passion is to assist you in achieving your career goals. With this in mind, I would like to offer you some actionable career advice to consider over the weekend.
Over the last two decades of closely interacting with successful people I have discovered that they posses certain shared habits that the vast majority of people lack. In fact, the very same habits that help them succeed are often derided and scoffed at by people. For example, successful people spend their weekend time wisely. They do not view weekends as an excuse to party, watch endless football, sleep past noon, and then binge on Netflix.
Here is what they do and you could too:
Plan a schedule on Friday for the weekend. You need to design a game plan that will enable you to be productive but also have the flexibility to pursue enjoyable pursuits such as spending time with family and friends. Without a well thought out action plan it is too easy to drift brainlessly into a haphazard pitfall of wasted time. How often do you say to yourself, “I can’t believe it is Sunday night? Where did the time go?”. For the average person, the answer is every single weekend but you are different.
The plan should allocate time, which is finite and precious, towards various catch-up work from the previous week and proactive projects for the upcoming week.
Maintain your regular work week routine. To maximize your time and be productive keep close to your usual schedule. If you wake-up at 5:00 am to catch a train into the City, I’ll allow you a little extra sleep since you won’t have the colossal waste of a two to three hour commuting time suck. Make sure that you get up early, eat a healthy breakfast, check work emails and phone messages, go to the gym, read the news and other easy to do actions. It is a great feeling and satisfying pleasure to have a number of small accomplishments under your belt before 10:30 am Saturday morning.
Please note, if you try to persuade your teenage kids to follow this advice (like I do), it is not too easy and could be a big mistake. The only thing easy about it is to get them completely enraged at you. Although, I keep trying. For some strange reason my daughter does not find it fun to do calculus homework at 8:00 am on Saturday morning.
If you have chores to do around the house, use a cost benefit analysis to decide if they should be outsourced. I would chide my attorney friend questioning him why he would spend three hours on his lawn care (which he did not like to do). His billable hours are in the $400.00 per hour range and a gardener could do a way better job for a small fraction of the price. My logic was that if he was going to do work he did not like, he might as well get highly paid for it. Delegate the chores that bog you down which will free you up for more productive endeavors.
It is frustrating to see people lazily stroll into the office on Monday morning in a hazy mental fog. It takes a few hours for them to get settled, have their coffee, order breakfast, go to the bathroom, engage in silly gossip (of course it has to be loud enough to bore everyone else in the office), discuss stupid theories about Game of Thrones, debates over whether the Giants or Jets suck more, forced to endure your cubical neighbor’s painfully boring weekend in which he provides an excruciatingly detailed account of how great of a T-ball player his kid is and how he is going to get a college scholarship. It’s not until 10:30 am when they are ready to start. An hour later they are planning for lunch.
This is not you. Sunday night is time for planning out your schedule for Monday. Actually, you should have already started on work and tasks for the new week on Sunday so you quickly hit the ground running.
It is important to do things other than work. Sometimes the best ideas come when you are taking a hike, on a bike ride, or running in the park, and have some time to think. Reading informative books about your field (not graphic novels about zombies), and listening to intelligent relevant podcasts are helpful to learn something new and valuable. Do not be embarrassed to try self-help books to help shape a positive outlook towards life and work.
Look back upon the prior week to reflect on what you did both rightly and wrongly – like a post mortem. Critically think of ways in which you could improve and do better next time. It is important to be honest with yourself. If you really f#@Kd-up, own it. Learning from your mistakes and failures, then executing necessary changes is a great way to grow and improve.
Start a journal in which you list the things that you want to accomplish for the upcoming week. Begin with the most difficult unpleasant tasks. It is called “eating the frog first”. Get the most annoying distasteful piece of work done right-away so that it is not lingering in you your mind driving you crazy, then everything else becomes easy.
Use the weekend to work on changing your mindset. Focus your time and energy on positive pursuits, surround yourself with good uplifting people, enjoy your family, don’t dwell on negativity, set realistic medium and long term goals, stop harmful bad habits, learn something new, erase the negative voice-loops in your head that hold you back, and challenge yourself to be a better person.
Have a great weekend!