Monday, December 24, 2012

Review of "What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend" by Laura Vanderkam

I've decided Laura Vanderkam's advice is just plain right. Full stop.

I'm a huge fan of her blog, and when I found out she has another time-management book coming out on December 31 called What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend - I immediately knew I had to read it. She was kind enough to share it with me early, and I absolutely loved it. It was the perfect length, it took me under 30 minutes to devour, and I felt I didn't waste even a single moment of any of my own precious 36 waking weekend hours enjoying it.

So, what do "The Most Successful People" do on the weekend, you ask? Well, in general, they do two key things with their time:

1) They have a structure - choosing weekend labor of a different sort than the weekday labor they typically engage in, or to borrow from fitness parlance they "cross train," and --

2) They plan - by making written plans, particularly about how they'll use their weekend downtime, they take full advantage of the happiness-boosting benefits of anticipation.

There is so much great food for thought in Vanderkam's book, and I say this as someone who already makes extremely good use of her time and who totally lacks the procrastination gene. A few tidbits:

On how to plan a weekend: Plan a few "anchor events," such as 3 to 5 things you want to do, sketched in ahead of time. What's something new you've always wanted to do? Dream a little. Write your ideas down so you can finally make those happen.

On household chores: Do them on the weekdays. "You may just spend less time on chores because you have less time." Designate only a small chore time on the weekend if you must. Better yet, hire help.

On kids' activities: "Pare down to the activities they and you enjoy most" with the knowledge that "depth and focus tend to bring more happiness than a scattershot approach where you never get a chance to go all in towards mastery." (Yes, indeed, that sounds refreshingly familiar.) Also, write down ahead of time how you plan to make use of any time you're going to spend waiting at kids' sports events. Mom writes down: "I'll read the whole Sunday times" while she waits four hours for her daughter's swim meet to end. Brilliant.

On Sundays: "Sunday? Miraculously everyone is free." Indeed. That makes it a great window of time to spend with friends you hardly ever see. Why not have people over for an early Sunday dinner?

On why "the simplify Christmas narrative" is wrong:
"But if you’ve got young kids, it doesn’t take long to realize that there won’t be many Christmas seasons when the little ones will race downstairs in the morning to see what Santa brought. They won’t always be eager to bake with you, spilling flour on the counter in their excitement. Eventually they won’t care if you put up a giant tree, or go caroling, or make hot chocolate. You can beg off making a snowman because you’re tired. But there are only a few winters—and only a few days each winter when it’s snowy and you all are home together— that your children will ask to make snowmen with you. Someday, perhaps, you will be staring at the snow from the too simple room of a hospital or nursing home, dreaming of the days when making snowmen with your children was an option. This realization leads to a different question than that suggested by all these tips on simplifying the holidays. Namely, what are you saving your energy for? This is all there is. Anything could happen and you are not guaranteed another snowman. So make a fuss. Make a show. Spend your energy now."
Quite the spot-on argument to carpe diem this Christmas. "Life cannot happen only in the future." So very true. "What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend" by Laura Vanderkam will be released on December 31 (you can pre-order it now). Happy Holidays, all!


Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..

Cloud said...

I liked the book, too. I have a hard time keeping chores out of the weekends, partially due to the fact that Petunia's bedtimes are long right now (she doesn't need a nap everyday anymore, but gets one at day care, which then makes bedtime hard), but also because my husband prefers to do chores on the weekend and catch up on work and unwind on weeknights. But we've been working to decrease the footprint of chores in our weekend, with some success. And we've done the "anchor event" thing for quite awhile (although I didn't name it). Having a few fun things planned helps keep chores from swallowing the weekend.

hush said...

@Cloud - we're dealing with some nap-induced, unreasonably long, late bedtimes for the 3-year-old as well. Ugh. I've been falling asleep before she does! I feel my last ever child sleep post brewing. :0