Considering weekdays consume most of our time, it’s easy to get stuck in a routine that drains us of happiness. When this happens, our relationships at home and the office begin to suffer. It seems that all we do is get up and go to work, only to do it all again the next day. The only relief: the weekend. Yet, when the weekend arrives, all we can think about is how quickly it will be over and we’ll be back to our weekday routine. It’s a tough cycle to break.
If you feel like you’re trapped in this cycle, here’s four weekday habits that can help you break free. As a result? You’ll be not only happier, but more productive.
- Have a daily work wind-down ritual. Whether you work at home or at an office, it’s important to train your brain to shut off from work. Thinking about your job and tasks you need to do the next day will keep you anxious and even if your body is enjoying good work-life balance, your mind is not. Before you leave your desk, try writing a to-do list for tomorrow – this is a great way to relax your brain and allow you to start thinking about other things. It’s also advisable to set up weekday habits to train your brain into realizing work is over. Maybe at the end of every day you develop a routine – closing all your open browsers, wiping down your workstation, and making sure your data is all backed up. Have you ever driven someplace familiar only to not remember making the drive? At first, it’s a bit concerning, but you realize your brain took over on auto-pilot and you weren’t stressing about work or school or family. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do this on command? By developing a set routine and perhaps setting a reminder to alert you, you train your brain to get into auto-pilot mode which essentially clears your brains cache.
- Be a weekender every day. Weekends are the best, am I right? You get to sleep in, spend time with friends and family, explore new parts of your city, and simply do exactly what you want to do. There are some weekends we barely even pay attention to our phones, as we’re too busy living our weekend lives. But Sunday night rolls around, and that familiar feeling of dread kicks in. No matter how much you enjoy your job, you feel that sense of impending doom. Work isn’t that bad, so why are you feeling this way? Chances are the feeling isn’t because of your work. Instead, it’s about how you spend your week nights. Weekends are fun because we pursue our passions and spend time with others instead of simply watching tv or browsing the internet. Happiness isn’t found in a screen, yet many of us look for it there fairly regularly. If you want to be more happy and productive during the week, treat your Tuesday nights like a Saturday night. Meet your friends for a drink and trivia at the local hangout, spend the time chatting with a long-distance friend over Skype or check out the new park near your house. Sure, we don’t have a lot of time in the evenings and sleep is important, but if you want to enjoy your weeknights, make plans so that you can look forward to them, even if they are only for an hour or two. The best idea? Have standing fun plans for Monday night so you can avoid the Sunday blues.
- Give your hobbies some love. No, Facebook is not considered a hobby, but our brains, like our bodies, are naturally lazy. It’s better for the brain to relax and save energy, focusing on a mundane activity like watching a TV show. However, forcing our brains to engage is the key to happiness – and though your brain may try to fight you on this one – growing a new skill gives us a feeling of accomplishment and can keep depression at bay. Do your muscles enjoy being worked? Likely not, but the more you engage them the stronger they are and the better you feel – same with your brain. Because our brains aren’t naturally looking for ways to work, it’s important to schedule hobby time just like you would with any other plans in order for your brain to get the message that it isn’t optional. You’re also much less likely to blow off your hobby if you schedule a regular time before hand.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Getting a good night’s sleep is key to productivity and restfulness. Your brain is an excellent clock, and it’s possible to train your brain to wake up at the same time every day. Why is this important? If we rely on alarm clocks, we can often be woken up in the middle of deep sleep, which makes us feel tired all day. Snoozing your alarm is especially bad, as you’re giving your brain permission to get back into deep sleep, only to disrupt it a few minutes later. The best way to develop good weekday sleep habits is to go to sleep around the same time every night and not to fight your brain’s desire to sleep when your bedtime rolls around. Try to limit your bright light interaction – if you enjoy a bit of reading or phone browsing at bedtime make sure to dim the brightness to avoid signaling to your brain that it’s time to wake up. If you’re really struggling, try gentle alarms like increasing vibrations or something that slowly lights up your room.
Which weekday habits do you recommend for happier weekdays?