Many of the executives that I know seem to have a common problem in that they try and keep their weekends free, but always feel as though they don’t get a great deal of time to do what they enjoy, don’t actually get enough time with their families as everyone is too busy doing different things, and they always end up having to compromise their time (see “I HATE COMPROMISE” posted September 6, 2010).

It’s interesting to see how many people do feel that compromise is the only way to ensure that everyone gets something from their time available. Trade-offs such as “I get to play golf on Saturday morning if I agree to go and visit your parents on Sunday afternoon”, are common and tend to be the norm, particularly in families that live close together.

I have always been fortunate in enjoying the reality that “It is wonderful to have a large family … all living in another city”.

Based on my dislike of compromise, I believe that there is a better way to plan weekends and for people to get more quality time with their families, with everyone involved getting a better shot at doing things that they really enjoy.

The starting point is to get everyone in the family to separately list the “10 things that they enjoy most in life”. The reasoning is that if you can spend more time doing the things that you love, you will actually get more enjoyment and satisfaction from the time available.

You then have the family (works for couples also) match their lists to look for the similarities, and then try and plan the weekends as much as possible around the things that everyone has identified as being pleasurable.

I know it sounds a bit simple, but it actually works.

One exec that I worked with would always play golf on Saturday, while his wife took his 2 girls to horse riding school, these activities taking up most of the day. On Saturday evenings, he and his wife would head out to things like the opera, theatre, movies or concerts while their daughters, who were too young to be on dates, would tend to stay home to watch TV, or read or whatever young people do when left at home. Sundays were taken up with catching up on sleep and morning chores, and the afternoons with visiting whatever ageing relatives were next on the roster. Sunday evening was generally spent with everyone getting ready for the new week.

The weekends passed quickly and with no one feeling that they had had a great time of it, and all feeling that they had not “seen a lot of dad”.

When they did the “My favourite 10” exercise, they found that there were 4 things that they all had in common. These were picnics/eating out, music and theatre, discovering new places and sport.
They therefore started to build their weekends as much as possible around these things that they all loved to do.

Every Saturday morning they would head out somewhere different for breakfast/brunch/lunch within an hour or so from where they lived, and then spend the rest of the day exploring the area.

Saturday evenings they started including the girls in their “culture” events, as the girls had reached an age where these events, if carefully chosen, were of interest to them as well.

Sunday mornings were spent doing sporting events that they could all enjoy like cycling, hiking, skating or canoeing and then they would have a pub lunch somewhere before heading off to do the obligatory visit to the relatives, which now just didn’t feel quite as bad as before, as getting there and back was more fun than before.

Sunday evenings was personal time, but at home together with a family meal.

They all tried to keep the things that they did alone to midweek, keeping the weekends focussed on what they could all do together. He played golf with some like minded friends twice midweek teeing off really early in the morning, but only 9 holes each time enabling him to still arrive at the office in good time. His wife and daughters started going horse riding after school rather than on weekends. It took a bit more planning but it worked for them.

If you talk to his daughters today, they will tell you that while they were growing up, their father worked really hard and travelled a lot, but that he always had the weekends available to do fun things with them.

Like all things that are worth doing in life it takes some thought and some planning to make it worthwhile, but in the end it does give you greater control of the time you have available.



  1. Luke Marson says:

    Another great post – I might have to try this one.

  2. leshayman says:

    Hi Luke,
    Sounds simple, but it worked for me ….

  3. Martin says:

    Hi Les,

    I red all your brilliant posts and have seen quite a few presentions at this large company built on german aspargus fields, including the one where you proved diversity of Asia by counting their local beer brands. There is a lot to lean from your broad range of worldly wisdom. This is another good one, thanks a lot

  4. leshayman says:

    Hi Martin,
    I have always felt that beer was a great indicator of national obsession, like the US coming up with lo-cal beer. It’s like I can eat another burger, but if I have it with lo-cal beer it must balance it out.
    Have a great day on 23rd. Sorry we can’t be there.

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