Why You're Still Living For the Weekend (Even If You Think You Aren't)
Work + Life Balance

Why You're Still Living For the Weekend (Even If You Think You Aren't)

by Kit Warchol
Photos Stephanie Yang | April 18, 2016

LET'S TALK ABOUT AFTER HOURS MOTIVATION (BECAUSE HINT HINT: IT MATTERS MUCH MORE THAN YOU THINK).

A friend of mine recently broke up with his boyfriend because of a fundamental difference: he self-motivates and his partner, well, doesn't. During our post break up heart-to-heart, my friend (who we’ll call Jake) said something that struck me as almost profound:

“We’re all old enough now to know we can't do that whole 'crappy desk job, get drunk on weekends' thing, but coming home from work every day to just zombie out on Netflix? Same thing. If you’re not doing something after work every day that excites you, you’re slowly getting boring.”

Until this conversation, I always thought of Jake  as one of "those people" who seem to have somehow tapped into a mystery energy source. He has multiple sidelines going at any given time, and there's no question of whether he'll motivate to get out after work hours. One night he's at an art show, the next a lecture series. If you're curious how a new film is, he's already seen it. This is the guy who once told me that the way he avoids a hangover is to stay up for another hour or two reading while his body sobers up. Yikes, right?

I’m as guilty as anyone of doing that whole Netflix thing. I like to think that I read regularly, but then there’s a week or two or three where I’ll barely skim The Skimm, let alone start and finish a new book. After an egregiously long day, I’m often tempted to come home, pour a glass of wine, make some popcorn, and fall asleep watching Murder She Wrote at 10pm (or worse, 9). So Jake's words struck a nerve. Because, if I'm being honest with myself, there's no mystery energy reserve.

168 HOURS 

The thing is my friend and people like him are not magicians. They're just badasses about making the most of their time. In a recent interview, Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, called us out on saying we’re “too busy” to start side gigs, take a class, read a book. Because we've got so much more time than we think—specifically, 168 hours in a week. Says Vanderkam: 

“Think of it like this: if you work 40 hours a week and manage to get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night, that leaves you with 72 hours when you’re not working. Even if you’re working 60 hours a week and getting eight hours of sleep a night, that’s still 52 hours of free time a week.” 

72, 52, whatever, that’s a ton of hours you can use however you like. The trick, according to Vanderkam, is prioritizing. Rather than saying you "don’t have time," she suggests you use the phrase, “It’s not a priority.” It's a subtle shift that keeps you honest. {click to tweet}

You have the time, but if you turn down an outing with friends because you’re too busy with your kids or a freelance project, you’re actually not “too busy” at all—you’re just choosing your priorities. Kids or freelance project first, friends second. When you think in terms or priorities, you're holding your time and yourself accountable. 

You can read 3-5 books a week. You can take a class or start a side hustle. You can learn a new skill every single day—if you want to.

PRIORITIZE THIS

We're aware we’re pointing out something scary: 52 hours (or worse, 72) is a lot of time to spend drinking in bars or watching Game of Thrones each week. And if you find that you spend most of your non-work hours doing some combination of those things, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

Shane Parrish of Farnum Street applies a similar argument to “finding time" to read. As in, it’s not actually as hard as people think: 

"When I tell people I do have a life and I don’t speed read the question becomes: what’s your secret? How do you find more time to read than the average person? Well, first, there is no secret. As simple as it sounds, finding time to read boils down to choices about how you allocate your time.”

You can read 3-5 books a week. You can take a class or start a side hustle. You can learn a new skill every single day (seriously, try Skillshare)—if you want to. {click to tweet}

It’s not enough to claim you’ve found a job where you’re not “living for the weekend” anymore because you should be living for the weekend (and your evenings) in another sense. Each and every hour is an opportunity to explore things that excite you, learn about new topics that you can bring into dinner party conversation, and discover new subjects that appeal to your interests. 

If you’re not making it a priority to find new information daily, you’re as much of a "party girl" as any undergrad waiting for finals to end and house parties to begin. And it’s not cute anymore (was it ever?). Take a minute to really think about how you’ll spend those several dozen extra hours this week. Do something meaningful.

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What are your thoughts on wasting time?