Setting that aside, both during the week and during the weekend I optimize for physical and emotional health. Eat well, sleep, exercise, spend time with other humans (your family qualifies as humans :) ).
On top of that, if time allows it: see, learn or experience something new. Reading is awesome for the learning part btw. If I ever “work” on stuff, it’s to scratch an itch I have or to align with the above.
Don’t worry about being productive, especially in a non-work related context. Find out what you enjoy and do that.
To clarify, doing only things that are worth doing doesn't imply holding back from producing/practicing because you're not yet good enough. I was referring more to the direction than the quantum in that direction. See what Ira Glass said about taste and practice .
It seems that I've been the most productive when I've felt the greatest weight of responsibility--first child, first few mortgage payments, first employee--and I have been the least productive when I attempt to avoid responsibility. Productivity, at least as defined as "what I need to get done to feel satisfied that I have fulfilled my obligations in the least amount of time" for me requires motivation, and nothing is so motivating as honest responsibility.
Saturdays are often filled with work for me, now. I work towards my master's degree, and I work on and around the house, and I work and play with my children. I rarely work on the business.
To be honest, I'm not too sure what "everyone else" does on the weekend either, and am curious about that also. Sometimes I end up intending to be productive, but end up more-or-less procrastinating and neither being productive nor genuinely relaxing. I've often wondered whether to attempt to be more disciplined and productive on the weekend (e.g., work, exercise, piano practice, read "serious" books, etc.), or to embrace relaxing and absolving myself temporarily of any responsibilities.
I would very much welcome any testimonials from anyone who has made either decision!
Some people have good health and boundless energy. For such people, spending more hours working can pay off -- at least, in the short run. They may actually be heading towards burnout without realizing it.
Some people don't have that kind of energy. Pushing themselves too hard actually hurts their productivity in the short term.
It can also vary over time for the same person. Maybe some weeks, they can do more, but other weeks, they really need some recharge time.
Wisdom is almost always specific to a particular set of details and is about a person having deep knowledge of that specific situation and acting on it in an informed manner. It tends to not generalize as well as we would like.
Ain't that the truth!
I should maybe make it clear -- I'm not really asking for advice. Rather, I would find it very valuable to read how a variety of people have answered this question for themselves.
There is an inevitable bias to what we can observe other people doing: if I decide to show up to the gym, or to some social activity, or whatever, then I can see other people who have made the same decision. But one doesn't really get the opportunity to see firsthand how people spend their downtime.
I agree with this idea. It would also be nice if they fleshed out the how with some of the why in their case (without violating their personal sense of privacy, preferably).
If the real question is whether to relax vs be more disciplined, it’s a good question, but hard to answer. We’d have to dive a little deeper on what being “productive” means - that’s an open ended criteria that people define for themselves. Some people don’t feel productive unless they’re working, some define productivity in terms of important things does per hour of work and refuse to measure weekend productivity.
It’s all over the map. Maybe the important questions are, “what are you trying to get done this week/year/lifetime”, and “what does it all mean?” ;)
Late morning (10:30-11?) go to a cafe with my wife. This time can be social and relaxing, but can easily turn into an opportunity for reading or working on something for a couple hours. I like to bring my laptop to cafes and find it is a very good atmosphere for me to focus.
At this point it might be getting close to dinner time. If I have done everything I described then I probably am already satisfied with my productivity, but if I am behind on household chores I might listen to music and clean the kitchen after dinner. Now I can finish out the night with some Netflix or vydia feeling like I earned it.
There are a few different permutations to this. Some weekends both Saturday and Sunday might look like this, others one day could have a more involved social event planned. I find that if I start off the morning similarly then the rest of the day tends to go well, so my advice is to master your morning so that you transition into the middle of the day with energy and momentum.
We would find a town within 45 mins, any direction, that we haven't been to. We'd find a really nice park there and take our toddler and have a picnic. After that was unplanned. Sometimes we'd go home and take it easy. Sometimes we'd wander.
And 45 minutes is a pretty good limit when you have a small child.
Sundays I'll try to keep my mind off work but still find myself thinking of things.
Personally I would describe productive time as
* Anything which isn't consuming media, whether it's movies/tv shows/Reddit/HN/gaming.
Then starting with the obvious "gotta do it" or "good for you" stuff.
* Just finished doing my taxes
* Cleaning your place, organizing your things
* Cooking / Meal Prep
* Working Out
* Seeing friends & family
And then I'd separate any efforts made towards personal development and in pursuit of goals you've set, separated into two main categories.
1) Learning (Coding, How to do a rubiks cube, anything really which requires concentration and effort)
2) Creating (Any side project, personal business, home improvement, etc.)
These categories are broad enough to include pretty much everything.
Any mix of these activities in which I minimize the consuming media part, I'm happy with.
Saturday is Pizza Night -- homemade of course.
A few hours on Sunday to take care of the side business.
Sometimes I think about something that requires a little bit of peace and quiet away from the office.
If I am not currently reading a book, I go through my phone's photos and pick my next read (evertime I walk into a Waterstones I take photos of the books' covers I find interesting.
Edit/addition: I email myself articles I want to read, chores I need to do, brainfarts I want to explore, and these must either be done, or take a place in my calendar, or (my favourite) be deleted :)
(I read recently about how the Institute for Advanced Studies produced almost nothing, because although it sounded great, to pay geniuses to spend as long as they wanted on anything, the effect was that there were 'no side projects', and making everything 'the main thing' seems to somehow stultify it. Maybe we're natural procrastinators, and the AIS model was defeated by that.)
 I mean, in the sense of being alert for the comical, unexpected side of things. A playful sense of joy. Most of my favourite writers (e.g. Chesterton, Russell, Kierkegaard) have a great sense of humour, university lecturers too. I got into following chess tournament commentary online because of some commentators who were very funny. (e.g. Mig Greengard, Ben Finegold, Jan Gustafsson). I've noticed almost all great scientists, mathematicians I read/hear have a strong sense of humour, in their personalities if not in all their works. It's not separate from their curiosity and serious intellectual concerns.
As mostly all of my friends are only fully available on weekends, that's usually the only thing that is different is that these activities that are in person usually only take place then.
The weekend as a thing is a very modern invention. I've found that i'm much more relaxed day to day and no longer have to "look forward" to a weekend for a break. I take those breaks as I need them. It did/does take a lot of cultivated discipline to make this work though, if you hate your work that's going to be a problem for this lifestyle.
I try to work on building something from my list every weekend. I'll be the first to admit that (so far at least) most of the things I've built have not, in fact, been better than the status quo. But it lets me flex my problem-solving muscles a bit and I definitely learn better by coding something from scratch than I do from any code-along course/project.
Assuming I qualify, no two weekends are the same, I don't have a routine.
This particular weekend? I slept in. I sent an email that I've been drafting all week. I had dinner with my parents, wife and kids for my daughter's birthday, and spent some time by the pool at the hotel drinking beer (it's rare I catch up with my parents, they drove up specifically for the day). I deleted a post I'd spent an hour writing because I realised I had to go back and rethink the entire premise of my reply. I spent a few hours catching up on a legal drama between two game developers. I intended to play some apex legends but now I wasted too much time in the evening watching youtube and drinking. I watched a tutorial video or two. I wrote this reply and almost deleted it too...
Overall my weekends boil down to: Family stuff, personal projects, sleep and recreation.
(I should add, I invested hugely in building my career profile, lots of weekends and late nights involved so the story is very different now that people are chasing me for my skills instead of the other way around).
I personally average one completely lazy day per weekend and one day of getting everything done.
Anyway, I agree that obsessing over productivity can be toxic. The correct mindset is to be efficient, not just productive, so you can finish your tasks faster in order to enjoy life sooner.
* some computer games
* grocery shopping
* hacker news and some other forums
I read on weekends quite a bit. Currently reading Release It! Design and Deploy Production Ready Software. Outside of weekends, I really only read books during my commute in the morning.
I also wrap up laundry on weekends- bed sheets, towels, clothes.
I do cleaning my apartment on weekdays and so on weekends, everything is pretty clean generally aside from laundry. I will dust and vacuum the apartment and clean the bathroom over a couple days in the week and so it never accumulates to feeling like a big task.
I might go out shopping for clothes or books (there’s an amazon book store in walking distance) with my spouse. Occasionally we go out to eat on weekends.
The kitchen we never have to devote time for on the weekends. My spouse and I have a strict rule to never leave a dirty kitchen overnight. We cook a few times each week in quantities to last the whole week and we promptly wash cookware and dishware.
Be back home by 11am. Before I had family, I used to read the rest of the day and go to restaurants/cafes with friends in the evening. Now, with family, I spend the rest of the day with family doing art, reading, puzzles, playground stuff.
After this, I sleep very well in the evenings because I'm tired to the bone. I'm incredibly productive on Monday/Tuesday after this sort of stress cleanse.
For some, that's clean the house, grocery runs, laundry, cook, date with their partner, play with the kids, read a book, video games, visit family & friends, sleep in, work on their hobby, whatever it is. if you planned for it and get it done, then you're productive.
- getting more sleep
- working on my side startup
- getting some form of exercise
- reading all the things I've queued up during the week
- errands around the house
- spending time with family
The weekends, I find, are more hectic than the weekdays. There's no set schedule and it changes every weekend.
By studies, I mean whatever I deem productive to studying... At this moment, I'm doing a math mooc, but I did certifications as well, new technologies, or simply engage in second work when I had one.
This weekend is the beginning of tech week in the theatre -- I'll leave it up to the reader to decide if that's evidence of my productivity and success, or lack of!
Then home, shower, breakfast
11am-3pm work (my own stuff)
Might do another hour work after that, but otherwise relax
Sunday - maybe a couple hours work, otherwise time with gf, brunch / go out and do something and relax
I do not work unless I want to.
I am hardly productive in one sense because I know when not to work.
I optimize for problem understanding and lazy solving these days.
Take a "digital sabbath" (google it).
The dividends those pay in the long run are huge.