Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

10 Steps I Take to Begin Every Weekend

It’s almost the end of the week, and I’m getting ready to shut down. Time to unplug from work and connect with family. Every week, I try to practice a routine (albeit, imperfectly) for ending my week well.

Weekend Calendar

Photo credit: Joe Lanman (Creative Commons)

Here’s how I close out out a typical week (this takes about an hour, so I try to begin around 4:00pm) and begin the weekend:

  1. Go thru my task management system (I’m currently using Wunderlist), finishing any tasks that are urgent or necessary to complete before the weekend and reassigning the rest for next week.
  2. Process all my email and try to get my inbox to zero.
  3. Schedule enough tweets to get me through the weekend (using Buffer).
  4. Schedule next week’s blog posts (I may go back and add a photo before these posts publish, but at least I have the content written and ready to go).
  5. Look at my weekend schedule and next week’s schedule just to get an idea of what’s coming up.
  6. Back up my computer. I try to do this daily, but often forget. Friday is a great day to plug into my external hard drive and make sure all my data is backed up.
  7. Turn off my computer.
  8. Turn off my phone.
  9. Go for a walk (with my son or dog or both). This is a great way to separate mentally from the week, process some things, and dive into the weekend.
  10. Start cooking dinner. I do a lot of the cooking in our family, and I love it. It’s fun to do this on a Friday night, because I don’t have to rush to finish it due to some commitment for the next day (sometimes, I work at night to get ahead for the next day).

What’s your end of the week routine look like? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Nice routine. Will you keep the phone off for the weekend? And the computer? If so, I congratulate you. Have a great weekend!

    • Good question, Ralph. No. I just turn it off for the night. Sometimes, I forget to turn it back on until Saturday afternoon. It’s mostly a symbolic ritual that helps me make a clear division between week and weekend.

      • One thing that I keep seeing on Sabbath keeping is the need for ritual. Whether it’s lighting candles, watching the sunset, or something like turning off your phone, they become markers of time that can have a really powerful affect.

  • Yeah, well, I’m not anywhere near that organized.

    • Me, neither, Larry. It’s all an illusion. Or maybe a discipline. 😉

  • That’s a good one, will see if some of it goes to mine.

  • Slowing down on the weekend is not my strong suit. However, it’s something I’m getting better at. The big thing I’ve been doing has been to have a true Sabbath beginning on Saturday night, then finishing up on Sunday evening. I’ve been reading, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn – that’s been an important voice during this shift for me.

    • Aaron, I am trying to do the same. Have you read The Sabbath by Heschel? It’s a GREAT read (short, too).

      • Jeff, I haven’t, but I keep hearing about it. Eugene Peterson references that book a ton. I assumed, because it’s Heschel, that it was a big commitment. So, I’m glad you mentioned that it’s short – going to check it out today 😉

  • robertrizzo

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff. I’m always assessing my routine for ways to improve and I think you present a balanced approach. Have a great weekend!

  • thanks for sharing your routine jeff. it motivates me to make my already planned weekend space from social media even more “complete”.

  • Jeff, thanks for the emotional prod. This list is helpful, more than you realize. I’ve been waiting for life to happen instead of engaging it in a few key area’s. Especially, “Turn off my phone,” and “Turn off my computer.” Those are awesome choices!

  • You’re way more organized than me in the writing/blogging arena.  I’m a single dad and balance all the cooking and housework with teaching, writing and blogging.  I think I need a personal assistant.

    • Dan, if you can afford it (and most people can, whether they realize it or not), you should make the investment. My virtual assistant has already saved me close to 100 hours.

      • Jeff, do you use a specific Virtual assistant service?

      • Of course my day job is teacher, so I can’t afford a lot of extras.  I don’t think I’m quite to the point of needing a VA, but I’ve been seeing a lot about them lately and the idea is firmly implanted.

  • I think I want your routine! Mine is more…rush to get as much done as possible…stress about what’s not done…rush some more…remember that I forgot to plan dinner…then plan how much work I have to catch up on over the weekend…
    Yes, I think I’ll borrow yours…it sounds so much nicer!

    • Hah! Well, I sometimes do that, too. 🙂

  • I recently added what I think is an AWESOME way to start the weekend. When I get home around 5 on Friday, my wife, son and I take a short walk down to the lake and grab firewood and kindling. Then we head back to the house and prep dinner and the fire pit for the evening. We hang out and talk with the neighbors around the fire, then make smores when my son goes to sleep.

    Gathering fire wood = starting the weekend.

  • Jeff, That is a great way of seperating work from life and the weekend. It can be difficult when working from home to do so which is actually why I actually enjoy coming to the office on Friday’s because I get to leave my computer at work rather than bringing it home like a lot of evenings. Since I am single and most my friends/families have plans on Friday evenings, I like to go home and eat dinner and either spend the evening resting on my comfy leather chair or venturing out to my local Starbucks to work on my writing/reading/hanging out with some of the locals. This depends on how tired I was from the week but either way is a great way to wind down!!!

  • Well this week I am experiencing a totally different routine. I’m running my first marathon tomorrow but I am trying to spruce up the house, calendar, writing, etc. because I know I won’t feel like doing much after Saturday morning! 🙂

  • It typically starts with a glass of WINE and a 5:00 dance party in the kitchen …

  • You cook huh? Well, one day you and I are going to have a “throw down”. LOL! 🙂

  • Rachna Srivastava Parmar

    Jeff, these are such helpful tips. God knows I am struggling with some work related time management issues. I will surely try to utilize your tips.

    • Awesome, Rachna. Thanks for the comment!

  • Terry Fenwick

    Well, you inspire me!  I am 80 and live alone so I don’t have to have a schedule – but it is good to shut down for the weekend and change pace – maybe write love letters to our 7 married children and 15 grands and now 5 great grands – at least a diary for them.  HOW ABOUT THAT?  A LOVE WEEKEND FOR LOVED ONES.  I need a cook for the weekends and maybe will hire a chef.  How does that sound.  I have a son who kept saying I should have a chef after his Father went Home – and I thought that was silly and then I had a dream about Tom, my husband, who told me to get a chef as I was not eating right . . . hmm  . . . you think?  Keep up the good work. 

  • Teresa Parker

    Because I work from home (I take care of mentally challenged adults in my home) and I write from home, it is very hard for me to “unplug”. I look forward to our couples small group on Friday nights, church on Sunday morning and lunch afterwards with friends. It’s difficult that home has become a work environment so when I’m here I’m on unless clients are gone. Thankfully we get a break on holidays when they go see their families.

    Jeff, I wrote my manifesto and would love for you to take a look at it.

    • I’m the same way, Teresa, which is why I need this routine.

  • My family and I moved house 2 months ago, and we don’t have a weekend routine yet. It’s something that I’m struggling with sorting out, and making good.  Your list is an inspiration to aim towards though – thanks for sharing.

    • thanks, rob. that’s what it is for me, too: aspirational.

  • Great post Jeff. I do something similar to start the week but had not considered ending the week with a weekly review. I’m going to try it for a few weeks.

    • cool, Michael. let me know how it works!

  • I do a similar routine, and it’s the key to being able to relax on the weekend. I often will go ahead and schedule out my Monday so that I’m ready to go when I get in Monday morning.
    Oh, and another really helpful thing is tidying and cleaning my office. That works wonders!

    • agreed. it really helps me unplug well.

  • DS

    I love doing a lot of the cooking in my family as well.  We have a breakfast ritual at my house, where my two boys and I cook pancakes on Saturday mornings.

    I need to consider a weekly review as well.  Great thoughts.

  • I love to cook as a segue between the work day and the evening. My husband is the actual cook around here, but I serve as the sous chef! 

    • awesome. i need to give my wife that title.

  • Wow. This is incredible. Jeff, you are so organised. I barely have a schedule – I use the calendar on my i-phone to plan in events, dinners, nights out etc but I don’t schedule my posts in advance, and definitely don’t plan ahead as much as you do. I also don’t have an external hard drive – probably something I should invest in. 

    Very challenging to me, because I know if I make a schedule I probably won’t be able to stick to it completely. However I love the idea of pre-schduling posts and deciding well in advance which posts are going to go live soon. I do this to a degree in my head already, but you have really raised the bar for me.

    Do you advise pre-scheduling posts Jeff? I have pre-scheduled tweets before and do when I go away. Maybe I need to get more of a break than I currently do…

  • Power down? But you get so much done. Glad to read you know
    how to recharge.

  • Kim

    I am usually working throughout my weekend because my business is to make other peoples lives easier to live, but I think you just help me organize myself so I can walk my dogs too! 

  • Thanks for this!  It’s super clear and inspiring.  I don’t have an end of the week routine, but this makes me want to think this through . . .

  • My end of the week routine involves Friday night fiction–both reading and writing. Sure, I get a few minutes to read/write here and there throughout the week but I’m trying to focus all of my efforts on that on Friday nights. Any blogs and other professional work can wait until Saturday.

    • Katie, I’ve been trying to do the same with my Thursday nights. I find that by Thursday night I’m particularly tired and that fiction is a great way to rest.

      • That sounds like a great solution. I chose Friday because there’s nothing pressing for the following day, even getting up. I tend to lose track of time when I’m writing so all of the sudden it’s 3am. That’s not ok when I need to be at work at 8 but on Fridays I can write until I feel like sleeping.

  • I am not quite as organized, but I tend to stay off of the computer for the weekend. I enjoy not being tied to email or my phone. People who know me, know to call if it is important, as I am not going to check my email. I like to download with Shark Tank and a glass of wine after connecting with my kids about our plans for the weekend.

  • I don’t really have one but yours sounds very effective and organized, I’m a little jealous 🙂

  • Kathy

    I have no set schedule that I follow for the weekend, as I am not very scheduled during the week.  I don’t work straight hours Monday through Friday, and I work a few hours both on Saturday and Sunday.  So the weekend blends in with the weekdays. My son is grown and lives far away, all of my family are very much scattered geographically.  I like being spontaneous, and to tell you the truth, list making and being super organized rob me of being in the present moment, because I am looking to the next item on the list.  I like going deeply into one thing, rather than multi-tasking. It was different when I was younger and I was raising my son.  Life served up many dishes then that needed timing to digest. 

  • I do have a routine.  I go to Starbucks, look at my agenda for the following week.  Email my clients the agenda plan.  Create something new.  Clear my work so that I can relax and create on the weekend.

  • I actually just scheduled my first weekend tweets a few minutes ago…haven’t been into that.

    I have the habit of jotting down the priorities I need to do most for the next work day before I leave the office, so that helps me come in Monday ready to go, instead of taking half a day to remember what I’m supposed to do.

    And scheduling the Monday blog post and having it written and done is DEFINITELY key. Otherwise I end up having to work Sunday…and I’m on a crackdown against weekend work.

  • Great routine Jeff. I love “switching off the phone and computer”. Out of curiosity, do they stay off the whole weekend? When I grow up I want to be just like Jeff..! 🙂 I think my challenge lies in managing my weekday well.  I’d probably have a better weekend wind-down if i managed my urgent tasks on time 🙂

  • Davejarnold16

    Well said, Jeff. I tend to try to “seperate” myself from the week by taking a Sabbath day on Saturday. I spend time with my family, relax, hang with friends. I try to walk away from everything work related. Sunday night is my time to put my to-do list together for the coming week. Good suggestions!

  • I don’t have a definitive routine but it’s made me think that I need to be more deliberate about having one.

    Thanks for sharing @jeffgoins:disqus 

  • This is awesome, Jeff. I have a plan for starting the week, but not ending. Love your ending plan, because it would make my beginning plan a little easier by jump starting the week. Great ideas for organization and keeping priorities in check. 

  • To be honest I hadn’t really thought about my end of week routine until I read this post. I usually tidy away my work desk but in a very unorganized fashion. Usually just I the vague areas that they belong to. After that I usually enjoy a meal with my housemates and just avoid all things technology and work until the next morning where I actually sift through my work.
    I’ll definitely reconsider things in light of reading this though. It’s a real opportunity to change my habits, be more productive and more importantly rest more/better

  • Arie Rich

    Great list! I wish I was more organized and disciplined. Which reminds me, I need to backup my computer more often. Thanks.

  • Friday is laundry and general cleaning day in my house so my family can have the weekend as free and clear as possible to enjoy =).  Besides a few household chores, I go over what was accomplished on that week’s to-do list and note what needs to rollover to the following week.  We’re a homeschooling fam so school work is reviewed and weekend homework assigned. All in all, getting set for the weekend can be hard work but it’s well worth it! 

  • My routine:
    Clear out the tasklist at the office, go by the grocery store and pick up some fresh food to cook for dinner, get home and grind up some coffee beans and make an espresso.  Drink said espresso, and take my son (via baby bjorn) and our dog Dublin on a walk through the neighborhood.  Begin cooking, and try to have dinner ready when Casey gets home.  
    Often after that we watch a TV show on Netflix or a movie.  Greetings, weekend.

  • great routine–I always include the walk, not just in ending the week, but every day. I work and think better with a bit of sunshine in my life

  • Jeff, I had never thought of a weekly wind-down routine like this before. I do a few of these tasks – the process can be better if I lump them all together. I wrote “weekly wind-down” in my schedule for this Friday afternoon. Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle

    I wish I could take a leaf out of your book to wind down for the weekend! I just stress about what needs doing and keep going til I fall down and physically can’t do anymore! I really should plan rest time into my weekend!

  • This was extremely helpful! I am always looking for ways become more productive.  Thanks! I always make sure to spend some time each evening reflecting on my performance that day. Did I accomplish everything I wanted to? What could have I done better? What lessons did I learn? Who did I meet? What do I need to do tomorrow. 

  • I commend you for taking time out from the electronic world and re-focus.  This doesn’t happen often and I have to admit when I take time to recharge, I am a better for my family, clients, and co-workers.

  • It warms my heart to hear another creative person who understands the value of having both structure and mindful disconnection from tech to support their creative process (and life in general).  Inspiring and affirming Jeff. 

  • What a wonderful list!  I think having a structure like this is a beautiful thing and keeps everything in balance.  I just discovered your blog and look forward to following.

  • This is a really good idea. Thanks.

  • Jeff, I had never thought of a weekly wind-down routine like this before. I do a few of these tasks – the process can be better if I lump them all together. I wrote “weekly wind-down” in my schedule for this Friday afternoon. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow!  Great list.  I just discovered Buffer too — what a wonderful thing!!  Have you tried Carbonite?  It backs up your computer several times a day and is very reasonably priced.  Love the list! 

  • Great list Jeff. I need to implement a close down list myself. Really will allow for me to be present with my family over the weekend. Thanks. Have a great weekend.

  • You have made me think a lot about 7 and 8. Thats really a way to be congruent with saying “I will shut down”

  • I think your steps very scientific. I’m sure you have a fun weekend. I will follow you