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In this episode, Chelsea lists little tasks that anyone with a stressful work week should start doing on the weekends, from meditating to tidying their home workspace. Click the "join" link below to join our membership program and get 50% off tickets to all TFD events!

Importance of tidiness:

Meditation and attention:


Rewards and work performance:

Zoom fatigue:

Benefits of regular moderate exercise:

Importance of downtime:

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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And if you haven't already, do make sure to hit the Subscribe button for more amazing videos about all things money and life.

And if you've already taken that step but are looking to upgrade your life in every conceivable way, hit the Join button. And today I want to talk about ways in which you can use your weekend differently if you, like many of us right now, have workweeks that stress you out. For many of us, it feels inevitable that Sunday nights are going to be full of the Sunday scaries.

They're going to be dreary, overwhelming. You're going to be focused on all of the things you have to do in the coming week. And Monday mornings are going to feel overwhelming.

And while sometimes this is simply unavoidable, there are ways in which we can use our weekends differently. And although you may want to just unplug and forget about the world come the weekend, often doing so leaves us set up to have a worse week and to fall into negative cycles. So by implementing these small changes that don't take up a lot of time, you can defeat the Sunday scaries and enter into a week that feels way more manageable.

With that being said, there's 13 of them. So let's hop right in with the 12 things to do on your weekend if your work weeks stress you out. Number 1 is clean the area of your home that you spend the most time in.

As I'm recording this, it is a Friday afternoon, and my plans for Friday evening are thoroughly cleaning my apartment, including finally addressing the auxiliary closet in my hallway that basically collapses on me every time I open it up because it's so stuffed with nonsense. And I did not used to think that this was an enjoyable way to spend a Friday night, but now, even if I'm not quarantining, I actually do, because not only have I gotten more into the habit of cleaning, I've really gotten to understand how much it impacts my overall mental health and life. And while it would be ideal to be able to deep clean the entirety of your living space over a weekend, it's best, in a weekend, to focus on the area that you are most trafficking in, especially if you work from home right now.

As humans, we tend to associate clutter or messiness around us with feelings of anxiety and stress and discomfort, whereas we associate organized, clean spaces with happiness and calm and productivity. And according to the Harvard Business Review, feeling stressed and subsequently accruing clutter can be a vicious cycle. "Research has found the levels of the stress hormone cortisol were higher in mothers whose home environment was cluttered." And it might work the other way, too. "Researchers in the US examined the interplay between stress and workplace clutter and found that stress and emotional exhaustion causes workers to delay making decisions and to keep more material for all their ongoing tasks within easy reach-- hence leading to messy workplaces." And if you don't work from home, you can easily channel this energy into places like your bedroom or your kitchen or your living room, wherever you tend to default, because whether or not you're working in this environment, the emotional and mental effects of an organized environment do have the same impact. I highly recommend investing in a few key pieces of organizational tools and do at least a once per quarter declutter where you get rid of a lot of the things that are simply not serving you.

But, at minimum, dedicating just a small portion of every weekend to making your home a place that you love to be in every day will pay dividends throughout the week. Number 2 is practice meditation. Many people tend to associate meditation with a more spiritual practice.

But it has many practical benefits that cannot be ignored. Studies have shown that incorporating a meditation practice into your routine can improve things like your memory and focus, both in and outside of the meditative time window. For instance, in a study from UC Santa Barbara, researchers found that, quote, "Students who did about an hour of 'mindfulness training' for eight days subsequently did better on the GRE as well as tests of working memory and mind wandering." If you're having trouble in your work week feeling focused and in control of your own thoughts, I highly recommend starting by integrating a meditation practice into your weekends.

It can be difficult to find the time and energy to do it during the work week, but practicing this meditation routine, for example, on a Sunday when you tend to get into those anxiety spirals can be a much more productive use of your time and is actually demonstrated to sharpen your mind through the rest of the week. Number 3 is create a dynamic spreadsheet or to-do list that breaks down your tasks into manageable bites. Many times when you have a lot of overwhelming things to do during an average work week, not only can it feel difficult to tackle each one of those items, but they often, in your mind, can tend to amalgamate and seem more overwhelming than the sum of their parts.

And a lot of this has to do with how difficult a time our brains can have when it comes to dividing any given tasks into smaller components and to tackle them one by one. For myself, I never do anything that feels even remotely overwhelming without first breaking it into a spreadsheet that reduces it to easily digestible parts that I can click off as I go. I tend to prefer Google Sheets, and I like to gray out the boxes of things that I've done.

And I do this for everything from planning for an upcoming trip to making a big financial decision to basically any work project that extends past a few days in scope. Sometimes these are entirely for myself, and sometimes I do share these with other team members. But the point is I want to always feel, at the end of the day, as though I am making progress on a given task even when the finish line is way out in the future beyond my ability to see.

And I also never want to allow myself to confuse multiple tasks into being one, big, overwhelming thing. Often when we're feeling overwhelmed, if we take a second to step back and analyze what we actually need to do in a given moment to make progress on a task, we realize that we can often be sort of bogey-manning the thing in our head and making it seem more complicated than it is. After all, even a marathon is just an accumulation of individual steps.

Number 4 is create a weekday itinerary with your Sunday. One thing that I find is very helpful, once you've broken down all of your tasks into individual bite-sized pieces, is to plan out what your week will then look like. You can use a typical calendar app like Google Calendar to do this.

You could use a Trello board. There are many different tools that you could use in order to break down each day into just a set of things to move through. But I think it's very effective to not just think in terms of what you have to accomplish this week but to think in terms of when you're going to accomplish it.

This will help you avoid surprises, but it will also help you ensure that you're not ending up with one day in which you have to cram an enormous amount of things. When you take the time to look at your week on a whole time scale and you can include both your professional and personal obligations as well as things that you would like to accomplish in that week or like to make time for, you can start to make sure that each day is planned out in a way that's balanced and accommodates for how much energy you might have coming off of a given day before. And it can also help prevent additional anxiety and worry about things that you don't yet have to worry about.

For example, if there is a task that you have to get done on Thursday, put it on your calendar. Block out the time to do it on Thursday. That way, it's clear when it's going to happen and you're not going to spend Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with that task hanging over your head.

As our creative director Holly puts it, "I'm obsessed with the email-scheduling feature on Gmail-- I find it all too easy to ignore calendar reminders. But if I receive an email, it stays in my inbox, top-of-mind until I've dealt with it. If I have something I need to get done by a certain time but which is not urgent, I schedule an email to myself the day before I need to do it as a reminder." Whatever your week might look like, making sure that your time is well accounted for and that you're planning on when you're actually going to do things means that you're not going to constantly be worrying about what you forgot.

Number 5 is block out time for your week to actually work. If you work a lot of office jobs that typically include a lot of meetings, you might find that having an open calendar results in you having so many meetings put on your schedule that leave you no time to actually get your work done. If at all possible, find times to schedule on your calendar that are just for deep focused work during which you won't be taking meetings.

This may require a quick conversation with other people on your team or your manager to set the precedent, but the idea is that you will be able to dedicate more energy to your actual tasks and will be more mentally present for the meetings that you do end up having. One phrase I like to use a lot at work is that I don't like to over meeting people, because, ultimately, not only to meetings impede on actual work time, but often, when you have too many of them, they start to have diminished returns. Creating a calendar that sets clear boundaries for when you are and aren't available is an easy way to make sure that you're never drowning in meetings.

Number 6 is to select sprint times to tackle bigger tasks. Monotasking is, as you might have guessed, the opposite of multitasking and has been demonstrated to, in many cases, actually make you more productive even though you might think you would be less so because you're only focusing on one thing at a time. One Stanford University study found that, quote, "People who multitask are more easily distracted, less productive, score lower on tests for recalling information, and make more errors." We often have the impression that, if we can just do a bunch of things, we'll be more effective.

But what happens is that we end up doing a bunch of things worse and, in many cases, let other things slip through the cracks because our intentions are so divided. So taking time to set out super focused monotask time on your calendar is a good way to ensure that the things that really do take a lot of brainpower end up getting done well. I also recommend using an app or tool that will help you really focus in this time, like, for example, the Tomato Timer, which is named after the Pomodoro method and essentially gives you a distraction-free window of time where things like social media sites and other websites you frequent are inaccessible to you while you get a specific task done.

Number 7 is build in a few rewards at specific points throughout your week. Even if you are a generally productive person, building in rewards to help compensate yourself is a good way to ensure that you're staying your most productive and focused. According to a study from researchers at Cornell, "people who received immediate frequent rewards for completing small tasks reported more interest and more enjoyment in their work compared with people who received delayed rewards only given out at the end of a long project." And the rewards can be small, like your favorite takeout after a really long day of both sprint work and meetings, or maybe you rent your favorite movie and watch it on your laptop while taking a bubble bath after you have a day where you scheduled all of those doctor's appointments you've been putting off.

The point is you want to be acknowledging yourself for doing the right things and for making the right choices when they're hard to make. As adults, one of the things that can be most disorienting is there's no one to tell us the exact right way to do things. And there's often no one to tell us "good job" when we do something right.

So being that person for ourselves and reminding ourselves that, if we do these right things, we can truly enjoy the rewards that we've set out for ourselves will help keep us extra motivated. Number 8 is, if it is a truly stressful week, remove non-essential tasks from your calendar. One of my favorite phrases is that you have to learn how to say no to things so that you can truly say yes to others.

It is nice to get ahead on certain tasks and projects and personal commitments, but it can't be at the expense of the work you have to do. And if you're anything like me, you probably have a tendency to say yes to things that you want to do or that someone else wants you to do but that you know you really can't follow through on. So each weekend when you look at your calendar for the week to come, identify things that you don't necessarily have to do and that you can easily expect yourself not having bandwidth for when it comes up.

Even if you technically could squeeze it in, maybe it's going to make you super exhausted for the following day and you won't really be able to give it your all. Go ahead and pick out a few things in a week that seems particularly stressful that you can say no to up front. Number 9 is make some time for exercise.

Now, this is something to do on your weekends, particularly if you know you're not going to have time to do it on the week. Recent research suggests that activities you'd never think of as exercise-- like running errands and cleaning the bathroom-- still have longevity perks. "In a study of older women published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, with each 30-minute chunk of light activities like these, people lowered their risk of dying early by 12% compared to their more sedentary peers. And a 2018 study found that, among older men, each additional half hour of light physical activity, such as walking or gardening, slashed their risk of early death by 17%." The best thing to do, of course, is to find time to inject those short bursts of light activity throughout your week.

But sometimes that's not realistic. So making sure you have time to do that on your weekends is the best way to make sure you're getting at least some of that light activity. And the great thing about the weekend is you can give yourself permission to make that light activity something you're actually excited to do.

Give yourself permission to find any activity that gets you moving a little bit and feels appealing. And if you start to do some of the other things on this list, like make sure to give a nice clean to an area in your home each weekend, you'll be finding ways to kill two birds with one stone. Number 10 is plan out the et cetera times in your week.

So this is everything that you probably should be doing through the week or you know you need to do but don't tend to actively schedule. That could be everything from making phone calls you need to make to making appointments and actually going to them to meal planning or prepping lunches for yourself or your kids. It could be making coffee, laying out the week's outfits, doing some other personal tasks or errands.

Whatever they happen to be, don't just say, I'll get to it at some point this week. Find time to do it and actually put it on your calendar. Making time to do these things and picking when you're going to do each one the way you would a professional task ensures that you're not just going to have these tasks constantly rolling over in your head as something you need to be doing and feel bad about.

And it also means you're not going to inevitably forget to do them, which often is the case. Even something as simple as finding a time to prep healthy snacks to always be at arm's reach throughout your day is a great way to ensure that you're not just going to redound to bad habits when you didn't make time to think ahead. Number 11 is to stock up on the things that help you get through the week.

Find a time during the weekend to stock up on all of the little things that you often find yourself wanting or running out of during the week. And you can also schedule these things to be bulk ordered and delivered if you don't actually want to carve out the time to shop for them, although for many of us the act of going shopping could be part of your light exercise. I'm thinking things like home goods and cleaning supplies, protein-heavy snacks, work supplies, anything you generally find yourself always reaching for and know you're going to need at some point.

A nice thing you can schedule yourself to do and create a complete list for is a once-a-week inventory of all of your odds and ends. Are you running low on soap or toilet paper or nuts or string cheese or any of the other things that you constantly like to have around? If you make a formal list of all of these items and are always updating it just to make sure you're in stock, you'll never find yourself having to rush to the store where you often end up buying other things you don't need or wishing that you had these items.

Lastly, number 12 is to set an amount of time to just vibe. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you don't make sure to give yourself actual scheduled time throughout the week where you can feel good about turning off and relaxing, you're going to find yourself more stressed out and less productive the rest of the time. According to Cleveland Clinic psychologist Scott Bea, "When you take breaks, you can solve problems in fresher ways than you could have if you just kept your nose to the grindstone.

Our brains are like any machine and they need a rest." Of course, it's not a good thing to just start wasting away every weekend and evening by zoning out and watching television, but it is good to carve out times on your calendar to do just that and truly enjoy it because you know that you've scheduled time for the other things that you need to do. Ultimately, everything on this list may sound at first like it's overwhelming. And if you did every single one of these things over the course of a weekend, you'd basically eat up all of your weekend time.

But the point of it is twofold. One, you don't necessarily have to start by doing everything on this list. But as you start doing more of them, they become natural and make more space for each other.

But, more importantly, the ultimate goal here is to free up more time and more mental energy throughout every single day of your life. We often default into a situation where we're working and stressed out and getting everything done in one big blur throughout the week. And then, on the weekends, all we can have the energy to do is completely turn off and tune out from our own minds.

And this leaves us feeling stressed out and anxious come Sunday evening and unprepared come Monday morning, and the cycle repeats itself. By getting ahead of ourselves and making sure to plan out for the life that we want to live in an active and clear way, we can ensure that we're not constantly running behind wondering what it is that we forgot to do. Once a lot of these things become old habit, they barely take up any time on the weekend.

But, more importantly, you'll find that each week feels more manageable and full of time where your brain can both breathe and be more productive for what actually needs to get done. Rethinking your weekends means having better weeks, whether it's a stressful one at work or not. As always, guys, thank you for watching and don't forget to hit the Subscribe and Join buttons and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.