If you’re a last minute planner like I can be sometimes, you may be sitting at your work desk on a Friday afternoon wondering what you are possibly going to do this weekend that’s slightly more productive than drowning in mindless television and getting caught up on sleep.
Some of my best weekends have been the simple ones, where nothing was “planned” and yet I felt productive and satisfied.
Here are my top 10 simple & free weekend activities (enjoyed over a cup of tea) that made those particular weekends awesome!
1. Writing Thank You Notes: It’s said that daily practice of gratitude can increase your happiness by at least 10%. Writing “thank you” notes to the people around you is one of my favorite ways to get into this practice. Never underestimate the impact that a “thank you” note has one someone, especially a handwritten one. While sipping on your favorite tea, think about all of the kind gestures you received this week. Pull out your favorite stationery and start writing those notes of gratitude.
2. Learn about a new topic: Sometimes, I love taking time to just be inspired. Inspired by people, by ideas, by perspectives so different from my own. My favorite way to do this is getting lost in TED talks. In case you’re unfamiliar, TED is a global set of conferences of “ideas worth spreading” conducted by thought leaders all over the world. Watch a few of these and be inspired for the rest of the day, if not week. Here are some of my favorite ones:
- Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are (This get's really good around minute 15)
- JK Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure
- Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action
3. Wander, Get Lost: Go for a long walk (or hike) around your neighborhood. Get lost and out of your head for a bit, don’t have a set idea of where you’ll end up. And don’t forget to bring your favorite TeaDrops along with you (it’s great iced too!).
4. Plan a Future Vacation: NY Times claims that vacations themselves don’t necessarily make you happy, but studies show that the anticipation of a vacation does. That’s likely because the brain has a difficult time discerning anticipation (visualization) of a vacation versus actually being on the vacation. Is there a vacation (long or short) that you are thinking about taking soon? Well, the weekend is the perfect time to start researching destinations, accommodations, and activities all while getting you super excited and jazzed for the week ahead.
5. Impromtu Tea Party: I couldn’t write an article on fun and simple weekend planning without mentioning a tea party! Partially because impromtu tea parties truly are a simple way to make the day extraordinary. You don’t need much either. Invite some friends over and pick up some simple tea staples: English muffins, jam, butter, grapes, and cookies. Don’t forget theTeaDrops. That’s it! Keep it simple and informal, mixing and matching cups and saucers to keep the look and feel eclectic.
6. Organizing mail and bills/personal documents: Okay, maybe this doesn’t belong under the fun bucket but the reality is that mail, receipts, and other financial docs pile up fast and we tend to always put off addressing this task! Why not make the whole process more tolerable by grabbing your favorite cup of tea (TeaDrops of course), sitting at a table and sorting through the bills? The most efficient way is to identify items that require action//recycling//or shredding. Enjoy the process on a leisurely weekend with some tea by your side.
OK, if you really detest this idea there is always journaling. The weekend provides a perfect opportunity to reflect and renew.
7. Pretend you’re a tourist in your own community: It’s often weird but true that we are generally less inclined to be tourists in our own hometowns but are eager to venture off into new neighborhoods. What if you took a day or half a day to truly explore your town - see all of the restaurants, shops, nature paths, and museums that your town has to offer? You’d be surprised at how much you’ve actually missed all of these years.
8. Volunteer/Help Others: Studies show that dedicating 2 hours a week to the act of helping others can increase your levels of happiness significantly. There are a ton of organizations to volunteer with, but sometimes they may require some application/screening process which may be difficult to get done in a weekend. While you explore that path, there are many ways to help the community of people around you. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Give your friends a night out: Do you have friends with younger children? Give them a break and fun night out by volunteering to watch their kiddos for the evening. Trust me, they will thank you and feel completely refreshed afterwards.
- Walk a pet: Do you have friends/family members with pets? Volunteering to walk or care for someone’s pet is a great way to help a friend, but also benefit from pets’ amazing abilities to lower our levels of stress and enrich our lives.
- Make a meal for someone: If you have a friend or family member swamped in life’s responsibility and short on time to make or enjoy a meal with the family, reach out and see if you can bring over (or have them over) for a home-cooked meal. A way to most people’s heart is through their stomach.
- Research a topic: Honestly, some of the best help I’ve received over the past few years is when one of my friend’s or family members has volunteered to research a topic for me. It can be looking at Craiglist rental listings when I was thinking about moving, to figuring the best type of bank account to open. You don’t realize how much these little favors help.
9. Watch the sunset from a beautiful vantage point: Sometimes the simplest things are the most pleasurable. Drive or walk to a lookout point where you can enjoy the spectacular view. Make sure to bring some TeaDrops with you to sit and enjoy as you watch the glowing sun fall.
Here is a handy sunrise/sunset calendar to see the times in your area:
10. Re-arrange your space/furniture: Re-arranging space can serve as a channel of creativity and mood elevation. I try to abide by the philosophy of not having anything in my house that I do not love or do not find useful. It’s hard, and executing that philosophy is a constant work in progress. I find that spending a few hours each weekend to assess my belongings, declutter what I can, and rearrange furniture can be a source of cleansing both my mind and a room’s energy.
I love some of the re-arranging tips presented here as a guideline.
Now go out and enjoy your spectacular weekend! Tell me how it goes.