I was heading into work on a Friday morning and caught the end of a local public radio show that was examining how we look at our workweek versus the weekend. As an HR professional for a company that provides HR outsourcing solutions, I was instantly hooked. I couldn’t stop thinking about this show and was anxious to hear the first few minutes that I missed before tuning in. Finally, over the weekend, I found the show Two Guys on Your Head, a weekly radio spot hosted by two psychologists, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, who discuss human behavior and the brain.
They split the topic into two episodes: the workweek and the weekends. The first episode centered on the physiological aspects of routine and patterns. Typically, we have one pattern during the workweek: we go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, usually five days in succession. Then the weekend comes, and we throw it all out the window. Hurray, the weekend! We may stay up late and sleep in, setting ourselves up for a rough start to the week. I started thinking about my typical weekend, which involves sports activities for my two school-age children, laundry, groceries, errands and, if my husband and I are lucky, a date night. Standing back and examining my normal routine made me realize that there is not a lot of down time built into that flurry of activity to rest, recharge and mentally prepare for the next week.
I know that I have been greeting people for years with “Happy Friday!” or “TGIF,” and while listening to this program, it dawned on me that I was reinforcing the attitude that work is something to get through to get to the weekend. Drs. Markman and Duke pointed out, “if all we can do is tolerate the workweek so you can have two days to yourself, that is unfortunate.” How you mentally approach the workweek can impact the outcome. The notion of celebrating the end of the week in anticipation of the weekend “puts a real burden on Monday,” according to Markman and Duke.
The second half of the series focused on shifting our outlook on our workweek and weekends to live a happier life.
The first tip Markman and Duke shared was to “connect work to something bigger than yourself.” You don’t have to be curing cancer or sending a man to the moon in order to do this. As I reflected on my career in human resources, I realized that I have had some incredible experiences, such as giving people job offers that they’ve accepted with tears of happiness, assisting in someone’s career development, celebrating and recognizing milestone work anniversaries and having the opportunity to collaborate and work with thousands of talented individuals in my various roles. HR activities can mold workplaces and create environments where people are excited to come to work and contribute each week. Focusing on the connection to your work can help shift from what I used to call the “Sunday Dreads” to anticipating your workweek and what you will accomplish with excitement. You have the power to define how you approach your workweek.
Another tip they provided was to sprinkle some of your normal weekend activities into your workweek. “We lock ourselves into a routine that pushes aside some of the little, joyous things we could do,” explained Markman and Duke. “The weekend is a chance to take a break from the stresses of life, but we can do that in little bits all the time.”
After listening to Drs. Markman and Duke, I’ve tried shifting from celebrating Fridays to celebrating Mondays. I look for those connections to my work and set an intention of starting my week in an energized and positive manner to redefine my workweek. I also take some time during the week nights to do some of things I normally do on the weekend in order to free up some time Saturday or Sunday to rest and recharge.