For years I’ve listened to my dad debate whether or not to go into work on the weekends. He works such long hours already, and yet, he is often pulled back on a quiet Sunday by the desire to “catch up” or maybe “get ahead.”
I always felt like he was doing too much, working too hard. My contribution to the debate was consistently, “Appreciate your weekend–you’ll be back at work soon enough!” I assumed, and not incorrectly, that working on the weekend wouldn’t mean less work during the week, and therefore I decided that it was not worth it.
In recent times, my perspective has changed. Yes, I see incredible value in taking a break, and yes, I believe in making good use of the weekends for leisure, family, and friends. I also definitely believe in putting a limit to work and simply deciding to stop even though the to-do list is never done.
But, more and more I find myself pulled into school on quiet Sunday afternoons. I love the productivity that comes from having the building nearly or completely to myself. I clean up without anyone making new messes, I organize without being interrupted and losing track of what I’m doing, I walk around my room, sift through my supplies, and brainstorm ideas. I type up plans and print everything I’ll need for the week. I lay out exactly what we’ll use on Monday morning, and then I leave everything in my classroom before going home for a school-free Sunday night.
Does the preparation mean that I spend less time at school or working on school during the week? Not necessarily. There’s always more to do. But, spending Sunday afternoon at school does drastically change the quality of my work-time throughout the following week. I start Monday without feeling rushed, flustered or overwhelmed. I don’t have to worry about printers or copiers not working. I spend more time talking to kids and their parents in the mornings and after school because I’m not focused on getting the nitty-gritty ready for the next day. I can catch up with and help coworkers because my plans are already laid out. I can better handle inevitable last-minute changes because I have plenty prepared, and it’s easy to rearrange when necessary. The quantity of work-time doesn’t change, but the time becomes so much more pleasant.
It’s a careful balance. I see how working on the weekend is a slippery slope toward not setting aside enough time for everything else that enriches and makes life what it is. But working just enough gives me the peace of mind to appreciate and enjoy the small moments each day such that I am not completely burned out and longing for the next weekend by Tuesday.
So Pops, I feel ya. Let’s just make sure to keep each other in check so that we stay on the better side of the balance.