Weekend Wednesday, a Way to Work the Week

School’s started and students are already burnt out -- from a packed five-day schedule to strangely difficult assessments, from meetings for extracurriculars to social outings, I’m sure many students feel they need another break -- one that is freed from the frustrations of normal life.


If that sounds like you, allow me to entertain you with this proposal.

The pandemic has stolen our perception of time.


No one could have foreseen that COVID would sweep through and crush what we consider normal life so quickly and destructively. Not only has it taken countless lives and crushed livelihoods, it's making us rethink what it means to take a break -- and what we can do to keep us from being swamped, forever.


When everything first shut down, every day felt like a weekend -- management was scrambling to adapt, administration was caught off-guard. For students, teachers had no curriculum. For employees, managers couldn’t figure out how to remain profitable and productive.


And in times of crises, the lazy human goes to one conclusion: breaks. Since the beginning of mass quarantine, we were told to take our mental health seriously, to not go hard on ourselves. And I think a large part of this is to take your breaks where you can -- and to ensure it’s a productive break. Make sure you’re resting. Make sure you’re recharging. Make it efficient--I can feel the reader shuddering now.


Don’t worry.


Take weekends off -- but take it seriously. Keep psychological distance between you and your work.


It’s bad enough we still have to work and learn in such an unpredictable environment. So take your break.


And for high schoolers and university students, it's even worse -- schools need to graduate students or it will screw up the system for years. One class that doesn't graduate kills the job economy, and we certainly can't introduce even more insanity and uncertainty. So, in the interests of being the cogs of a socio-economic machine, we continue to be prodded to "be productive", to "stay on task", and to "try your best".

Illustrating the modified schedule, courtesy of CGP Grey

But to no one's surprise, this doesn't work. Of course it doesn't. Humans are inherently lazy and consequently try to avoid work as much as possible. We need to recharge -- even if you love what you do, too much of anything and you'll get tired of it. You'll get burnt out.


The first problem is the effectiveness of the weekend -- two days back to back isn’t effective. The first day, Saturday, is just spent recharging. The second day, Sunday, is overshadowed by the coming week and preparation thereof.


But this isn’t to say breaks are bad -- any break is appreciated. And so, since the current weekend is at best 50% productive, you want to move the break to the day furthest apart from Sunday -- and thus, Weekend Wednesday is born.


As productivity goes down over time, you want to replenish it with breaks. If you space them out over the week, you can optimize productivity -- and with it, enjoyment of life -- as much as you can.

Productivity-Time graph of a traditional work week
Productivity-Time graph with a Weekend Wednesday

Of course, no company would do it. No school would do it. So if you’re someone who can pick their schedule, do consider this idea.


If you can’t pick your schedule, there’s still hope -- leave appointments open on Wednesdays, try to take it as a day to relax. There’s obviously other hidden benefits to this schedule -- you can go to normally crowded places like the gym or the DMV on Wednesdays when everyone else is at work, and you can appear to work hard on when most would traditionally be resting on Saturdays.


The less you’re in sync with the outside world, the better.

Consider it. Try it. See how it goes. It can only get better.



P.S.:

The seven day work week is bad -- like really bad. An outdated system that relies on the network effect -- whereby it’s easier to network with others when your schedules are similar -- it’s horrible for spreadsheets and planning, and atrocious as it’s a prime number and not nicely divisible.

But this article aims to only fix the problem with our weekends. It’s better to fix what we can for now.


Special Thanks to CGP Grey for Figure 2 to illustrate the idea.

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