Free time keeps me going.-Gus Van Sant
During the week, I tend to be very busy, so the weekends are my time. Sure, I get work done on the weekends, but I do it at my pace, on my terms. The rest of my weekend is spent doing things I like to do.
This is why, when a friend of mine asked if I could help her with a theater project for 4 hours on Saturday, I was very clear and direct. I told her she could have 4 hours of my time and that was exactly it.
I fully realize that this could have sounded selfish or mean, but I’ve learned that if you make yourself available to everyone, all the time, people will constantly ask you for favors — and you’ll never have time for yourself. I like to set very clear boundaries for the sake of work-life balance, and I think it keeps me happier. And it helps me work better too.
I always produce higher quality work when I’m rested and happy, so rejuvenating on the weekends is crucial to my success in school and other areas. Most people I know are the same way. Whether you have hobbies, like to travel, or just enjoy catching up on TV shows, weekends are a time for scheduling in the things you like to do outside of your job. Then, when you head back to work refreshed, you don’t end up feeling burnt out.
When you have people constantly tugging on your sleeve, asking for your time on the weekends, it’s difficult to know when to say “no”. You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and if you have a giving spirit, you probably feel inclined to please others. But sometimes, you just have to be selfish in order to keep yourself on track both emotionally and in your job.
So here’s my list of times/reasons when you should probably just say, “Nope, sorry, I’m going to be busy watching reruns of The Bachelor that day.”
When To Say No To Sharing Your Free Time
1.) You’ve worked yourself to the bone during the week and the thought of going out somewhere makes you cringe.
2.) You can’t remember the last time you did something you enjoy that doesn’t involve looking at a screen.
3.) There’s something you’ve been wanting to do (like read a certain book or try a new exercise class) and you’ve been pushing it off for weeks.
4.) You’ve said the words “I’m stressed out” more than 2 or 3 times in the last week.
5.) You haven’t had time to be alone in ages (especially if you have a family of your own, finding alone time away from spouses and children is super important. If you’re in college, taking time away from your friend group is also extremely important).
6.) You’ve been feeling irritable and you don’t even know why.
7.) You haven’t had a restful sleep without needing to wake up to an alarm clock in over 2 weeks.
8.) You’re feeling under the weather.
9.) Your friends or colleagues are inviting you to do something that doesn’t interest you at all.
If you identify with any of the above circumstances, it is completely appropriate for you to choose not to share your time. Of course, when a friend or loved one really needs to see you or needs your help, it is nice to be supportive. But if you feel like your weekends are slowly turning into stressful extensions of your work-week, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate. If you want to perform well during the week, you have to take time to breathe. Your weekend should feel like it’s yours.