Working on weekends is a hot topic when it comes to consulting. Many think it comes with the job, and it sure is part of the whole consulting life myth. In reality, as with all myths, that is only partly true.
There can be situations where working on a weekend cannot be avoided – but there are many more situations where you can. Today’s post is all about how to achieve that and make sure that as many weekends as possible stay free – ’cause you are working enough from Monday to Friday.
- Scope with a hidden agenda
You have a secret plan. You do not want to work on the weekend. Of course, you don’t want your project lead to know, because you’d seem all weak and “not taking one for the team” or even “not cut out for the job” (I am joking. Mostly.) Scoping to the rescue! It’s simple in theory: To avoid working on the weekend, plan your work so that the need does not arise. In real life, that might be trickier. My best tip is: Don’t agree on Monday as deadline for a deliverable. You’ll often end up on Friday thinking “gosh, I need to finish that… but hey, it’s only due in three days!” and end up sitting on the desk the next two days while your buddies are out having fun. On the other side, your project lead – depending on their style – might think “hey, he’s got some extra time for that over the weekend!” and adjust their expectations accordingly.
- Manage expectations
Again, simple in theory: Make it clear that you do not want to work on weekends except for real emergencies. This implies standing up against your boss. It is worth it. I have yet to see a project lead who wants their team to work on a weekend – but on the other hand, there are very few who actively look out for your weekend. If you work on Saturday and Sunday without being asked, they take it for granted, get used to it, and will expect it sooner or later. Be upfront about it. This has nothing to do with being an underachiever, but much with being self-conscious. I have met people who took it to the extreme and said “if you demand me to work on the weekend, you’ll have my resignation on your desk on Monday.” I don’t recommend that, and I think it isn’t necessary – but you have to be clear and outspoken about it. Include it as a topic in a first expectation exchange with your boss when you start a new assignment.
- Work efficiently
… I am already laughing so hard … of course: if you were just working faster and better, there was no need for you to work the weekends! *g* but silly joke aside – it is part of staying alive and sane to constantly try to improve your self-management skills. For some hints in that direction, check the “getting things done” category.
- Get your admin stuff done during the week
There is some paperwork to be done – travel expenses, time tracking, you name it. Those who have an office Friday have it easier, but even if you don’t: Plan some time during the week – e.g. dull time in front of the hotel TV – for your admin tasks. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing it on the weekend. I am speaking of own, recent experience: Last Sunday, I went to the office to catch up on travel expenses. Major pain, and completely avoidable.
- Plan exciting stuff for the weekend
It’s about your motivation! If you got nothing else to do apart from pizza and TV zapping, you might as well volunteer for some more work to take home just to fight the dullness of the weekend. Don’t be that guy! When you know that you’ll be at the beach with your friends all Saturday, or that you’ll enjoy a shopping spree and then hit the bars, the time is really blocked in your mind, and you’ll take much more care that nothing comes across those plans.
All set? Well then, look forward to your free weekend!
I’d really love your feedback on this one – let me know what works for you to keep your weekends free, where you disagree, and how this list can be improved in the comments.
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the thing that i am trying to do now is work longer in the evenings to keep the weekend off :-) well actually, i am rather saving the fun (non billable) stuff for the weekend...
I've found that what worked well for me was to setup an early Thursday meeting with my manager. We'd review what was accomplished up until Thursday and then determine what needed to be done to close out the week. This way, I'm able to get a head start on any unexpected items, as opposed to meeting with the manager on Friday afternoon and unexpectedly, there are 4 more analyses that need to be done.