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"Take 48": Friday 6 PM to Sunday, 6 PM

By - June 27, 2008

Mt Tamalpais Lg-2

(A trail on Mt. Tam)

(Cross posted from the FM blog)

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 I’ve decided to do something about it. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but it is off to a good start. Working with my senior team, 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, 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, Take 48.

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8 thoughts on “"Take 48": Friday 6 PM to Sunday, 6 PM

  1. Dan Lewis says:

    Guess the sabbath people were on to something?

    We’re in crunch mode at work, doing weekends. My life is suffering, my work is suffering, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

    When your boss asks for something extraordinary from you, maybe you should ask for something extraordinary back, like this.

    The sound captcha was impossible, by the way.

  2. Tom Pimental says:

    This is great. I do see one issue. If senior management is writing a lot of emails and holding them in their send queue… Monday morning is not going to be pleasant to those receiving all of those emails.

    Definitely a step in the right direction though.

  3. It says something sad about our never-stop American work culture that within a century after winning the hard-fought right to have time off to rest and recuperate, we are voluntarily retreating back. Only this time, we’re doing it to ourselves.

    I absolutely agree it’s time to shut off the Blackberrys and the texting and the laptop in non-work hours.

    There will always be Big Projects that merit Big Attention, but in the long haul of our lives, what are the moments that matter most? Is it the 10th email of the day? Or the first French Toast?

    I don’t remember where I read it, but someone once framed it this way: When you look back on your life at the end of your life, will you regret that you didn’t work *more* or that you didn’t work less?

  4. @Heidi – and yet, there is the part of me that loves to work, that takes great pleasure and pride from it. I do not see it as a negative unless it interferes with family and/or taking care of myself. when i die I hope to look back on all the work I did and be pleased, be proud, and maybe even wish I had done more…

  5. Roger says:

    It astounds me that people have so willingly given up the little bit of free time that our grandparents fought to get. I have always set boundaries in my employment, and you’d be surprised how well that works (and how easily boundaries vanish if you allow them to).

    I put in 8 hours (and occasionally a little extra when needed), but otherwise I’m out. I have a life that doesn’t revolve around my job – and I love my job. And I love the organization that I work for. I would honestly quit any job (this one included) that expected more than 40 hours a week from me. I need time for me – contemplating life, nurturing relationships, exploring my own creativity.

    Life is too short to spend it working around the clock. Short of working in a life or death profession (law enforcement, medicine) there is nothing so crucial that I need to be answering (let alone checking) work-related emails on the weekend. No way.

    I’m a human being, and my life adds up to way more than my job. And at the end of it all, it’s about the impact I’ve had on the people around me that I will be considering – not how much I worked or didn’t work.

  6. Soren G says:

    Well done, John. In terms of your work output, I am guessing that with less “work all the time mentality” the work you do accomplish during the week will actually be more productive. That is my experience, anyway. Though I watch my kid for several days during the week, so that is my off time; it is not always on weekends.

  7. tacojohn says:

    i read a good one about freedom and not having to workweekends in the usa it was and here it is—http://bphouse.comhttps://login.yahoo.com/config/login_verify2?.intl=us&.src=ytff&.done=http://yahoo.com/blaze/

  8. Bruce says:

    As stated over 3,000 years ago in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 35, verse #2:

    “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.”

    I suppose avoiding emails for at least one day would be a reasonable substitute for ‘death.’