A couple weeks ago, I took Saturday “off,” in part to procrastinate on a writing project that I was still planning in my head and not feeling ready to put on the page yet.

I have a typical 9–5 job, but I usually bring work home or work on side projects over the weekend. For example, it’s not unusual for me to record podcast episodes, work on book promotion, or draft a first version of this newsletter on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. It helps me feel more prepared to tackle Monday, and it also gives me the space for writing projects that I prefer to work on with uninterrupted time.

A couple weekends ago, however, on Saturday, instead of “working” I ended up doing the following:

  1. Cleaned my kitchen, including organizing drawers and cabinets
  2. Dusted all my hardwood floors
  3. Cleaned two bathrooms
  4. Broke down a mountain of cardboard boxes in my garage to be recycled with that week’s trash pick-up
  5. Grocery shopped
  6. Changed the direction of my clothes dryer door (this involved getting out not just one, but two screwdrivers)
  7. Cooked a batch of brown rice and a curry
  8. Washed, folded, and put away several loads of laundry
  9. Vacuumed

To be sure, this list of things had built up because of previous weekends of neglect, but I would imagine it also represents pretty typical household labor (and, given that I have no children, relatively mild labor at that).

If felt good to get all this done, and it definitely launched me into my week, but it also got me thinking about the nature of “work” and how we define it.

On Mondays, if someone asks me about my weekend and I say I worked, I get kind of a crestfallen look from them. It’s a lot more acceptable to say that I rested and got some things done around my house. Or that I binge-watched Gilmore Girls. Or that I went for a hike (I live in Oregon, after all).

I’ve come to understand that’s what’s expected.

Yet, both kinds of work are equally taxing to me. Moreover, I happen to like the “work work” better than the “household work” — writing is more fun than washing my kitchen floor. Creating is more enjoyable than cleaning. Making is more rewarding than folding laundry.

I think separating out our weekends from work is just another form of social construction for our time. To be sure, we need to take time to rest and rejuvenate when needed, but there’s nothing to say that those periods of rest need to take place over the same two days each week.

Indeed, many of my “rest” periods take place in the evenings when I read a novel. Or in the morning, when I go for a run or catch up on social media (Instagram is my current favorite). I rarely rest on the weekends in the typical ways that others’ expect because those uninterrupted hours of time to think, plan, and write are so precious to me.

Although it may be difficult for others to understand, my weekend work time has become a form of guilty pleasure.

To think on:

  • Over the last couple of weekends, what kinds of “work” have you engaged in? Was any of it particularly satisfying? Did any of it feel like a guilty pleasure?
  • How do you define “work” and “rest” for yourself? What kinds of activities are most draining and rejuvenating for you?