In the past few years, the weekend has taken on a new meaning for me. In short, it's now defined by work. The weekend is when I catch up on work I can't get done during the week, in particular work that requires long form thinking, the kind of thinking that powers drafting considered memos and strategy documents, even posting to this or other blogs.
It's also a time to clear emails and burnish out the odd To
Do item that never quite Got Done during the week.
So lately I've been working about three to five hours a day on Saturday, and even more on Sunday, where I work a couple hours in the early morning, and then a shift of four hours or more at night. I check my mail constantly, either while at my desk or on my Blackberry while with my family.
In an odd and most likely not very healthy way, the weekends have become two more workdays, albeit workdays that have a slower pace and breaks here and there for French Toast making, family hikes, and date nights with my wife.
And guess what? It's not working out very well. Turns out that constantly having your mind in work mode can ruin a good session of French toasting. And getting an email bearing potentially bad news while on a date with your wife can really mess with your ability to be the gentleman she deserves you to be.
So Chas, Jason and I've decided to do something about it. We don't know if it's going to work, but it is off to a good start. Working together, we've created a weekend program we call "Take 48." The rules are simple, really. The three senior leaders of the company - the CEO, the COO, and the Publisher/CRO - have agreed to not send a single email to any member of the FM team from 6 PM on Friday to 6 PM Sunday. It's hard for us to do - we're used to managing by email, and particularly used to getting "caught up" in the weekend down time.
But there's nothing in the rules saying we can't DO email over the weekend, just that we can't SEND it during the weekend. If the servers blow up in Chicago, well, someone can pick up the phone, after all.
We tried it out last weekend, and by golly, it really worked. Emails from senior staff usually creates orders of magnitudes more email from other staff members, and it folds into itself. But last weekend, it felt as if FM, as an institution, was taking time to breathe, to contemplate, to relax and feed itself. Maybe even take a nice hike on Mt. Tam.
Here's to more of that, not only at FM, but in every organization running hard at a Very Big Goal.
I'm not saying that we need to stop working hard, even if it means working on the weekend. But perhaps weekends should be sacred when it comes to intruding in the lives of others. Do your work, if you must, but when it comes to asking others to do your work with you, try to Take 48.