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How Coronavirus Helped Me Take Back My Weekends

4 Min Read
Lifestyle

The weekend — it is something that employees around the world count down to every week. Those two blissful days to enjoy life without worry. I used to be one of these people, watching the clock slowly move on Fridays, waiting for the moment I could jump out of my desk and head to the elevators, leaving colleagues in my dust.

Since starting my entrepreneurship journey almost three years ago, running my own PR agency from all over the world, my weekends disappeared. I replaced brunch and lazy mornings with crafting media pitches, strategies, and research. Sure, I enjoyed my weekends and did fun things, but work was still a priority. When you are a business owner, the stakes are high, and taking a full day off (let alone two) seems wrong. There is always something more that can be done and life becomes an endless cycle of to-do lists.

There is always something more that can be done and life becomes an endless cycle of to-do lists.

Then COVID-19 disrupted the world, especially the workplace, and thousands of people are now working from home, dealing with being surrounded by work 24/7. It was only once I went into self-isolation that I realized the disservice I was doing myself by not having my weekends work-free. Taking Saturday and Sunday for myself means that Monday through Friday are the power days where I am putting in more concentrated efforts, because I know I will have the weekend for myself. Now, I am motivated to accomplish as much as I can during the week so I can guiltlessly enjoy the weekend.

Even though I am my own boss and can make my own hours, I am making sure I get up early and have a scheduled working day while I am stuck at home. I find it helpful to have clear starts and ends to my day now. I start my day around 7:15 in the morning with coffee and the NYT daily briefings and end with a brisk walk around the neighborhood. These little things anchor my day and help me stay focused. I have recently started chunking my time into 45-minute power sessions where I focus on one, and one task only for those 45 minutes, then take a small break. I find that this helps me stay organized and motivated because my daily tasks now seem more doable broken down into 45 minutes of dedication.

Taking Saturday and Sunday for myself means that Monday through Friday are the power days where I am putting in more concentrated efforts, because I know I will have the weekend for myself.

The weekend starts with a cocktail or glass of wine followed by a movie and ends with a meditation on Sunday night, mentally preparing myself for the week that lies ahead. I spend about 30 minutes on Sunday evening writing down my priorities for the week, things I need to get done that week, and can't push off. Once my weekly priorities have been set, I schedule 3-4 of those priorities to get tackled on Monday. Doing this helps me feel more prepared and confident for the week because I know exactly what I will be focusing on. No Sunday Scaries over here!

Here are some things I am doing during the weekends — all social distancing approved!

1. Reading "You Are A Badass at Making Money" by Jen Sincero. I love reading inspirational, self-help books. Reading these types of books is a form of learning so I don't feel guilty spending hours reading for pleasure because I am also bettering myself in the process.

2. Creating content. I am taking my writing more seriously now that I can't leave the house. Writing has always been a hobby, especially storytelling, so I am using this quarantine time to write more articles and update my travel blog with stories of past travels.

3. Taking walks. I aim to take a walk every single day. It is especially important Monday through Friday because it helps me unwind from my workday, but the weekend offers a chance to take longer walks or embark on a trail for a few hours. Staying active during quarantine has been very important for me.

4. Watching movies. I try to eliminate phone screen time as much as possible since that can easily lead to checking emails and thinking about work, whereas movies are a relaxing way to indulge in technology while far removed from work.

5. Cooking good food and making cocktails. The weekend is supposed to be fun so I like to indulge in good food and cocktails. Recently we have whipped up coconut martinis, spicy margaritas, good old mimosas, and bloody marys! For dinner, we utilize the extra time we have on the weekend to make some nice dishes. Lately, we have been making tacos, stir fry, brisket, chili, or ordering in food from our local restaurants to support them and having our own at-home "date night."

6. Dreaming about my next travel destination! As a digital nomad, I am itching to get back out into the world. I know this won't happen for a while, but I have definitely been thinking about where I want to go once life returns to normal. We want to move back to Hawaii and then explore South America, the Caribbean, and more.

How are you spending your weekends these days? Maybe it's time to take those two days back for yourself, too!

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.