Accept That You Failed to Finish Work by Friday

Photo by [Andrea Piacquadio]( from [Pexels]( by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

If you’re working weekends, there’s something wrong

It’s Monday morning. Your team decides to complete a new project by Friday.

By Wednesday, things are looking fine. You think it’ll all be done. You promise yourself you won’t work the weekend this time.

You tell your friends you’ll meet them on Saturday. You promise your parents to visit them on Sunday. Great.

Friday comes along. You realize that there’s still a lot left to be done. You open your laptop and get to work.

“I’ll be able to complete the work today”, you think.

It’s 5 pm. You thought you’ll be driving home. But you’re on your desk, driving yourself crazy. At 8 pm, your teammate says,

“I think it’s enough for today, let’s pick it up tomorrow”

You think, “Should I remind him tomorrow is a Saturday?” Instead, you say nothing, and quietly work through the weekend.

All your weekend plans to spend time with friends and family, to work on the side hustle, to write, learn, and exercise, fell apart.

This goes on forever. Until you stop and realize it’s not supposed to be this way.

Do yourself and your company a favor — help the employees get their weekends back. It’s bigger than any other incentive.

Realize This

If you’re working on weekends, it’s not your problem. It’s the company’s problem. (Unless you’re the owner — then it’s your problem)

You don’t have to take it on yourself. It’s not always because you’re not productive. It’s because the company doesn’t set you up for success.

It’s counter intuitive but true. The environment is stronger than willpower.

Impossible deadlines and lack of correct estimates set false expectations. We bite off more than we can chew.

Humans are bad at estimating how much time it takes to finish something. Setting arbitrarily high goals lead to stress and frustration when you fail to reach them.

Most goals are arbitrary. Sometimes they push you forward. Other times, they just create stress and anxiety.

And when these goals aren’t met, what’s the solution? Working on weekends.

Vanity Metrics

Successful companies are efficient. They get things done and let their people leave early to enjoy their lives.

Unsuccessful ones however are inefficient. They try to make up for inefficiency by hijacking their employees’ personal time — masked as “the hustle.”

The company is defined by what it values and how it hires, fires, or promotes people. If people who put in long hours are the ones who are valued, what signal does it send to the others?

The management can’t just say, “But we didn’t tell you to work weekends.” Because their actions are not aligned — and the actions speak louder than words.

Judging a person for how long he’s at his desk is a recipe for failure. Any creative task or difficult problem requires deep thinking. You don’t get ideas when your colleagues are constantly disturbing you on slack, email, or otherwise.

Meeting and Interruptions

This is a beast. I can write a book about meetings. Every meeting I attend gives me a reason to not attend another one.

Telling you how to run effective meetings is out of the scope of this article. But here’s one bit of advice — cut them out. If you and your team are serious about getting things done, explain to them how meetings are toxic.

People are spending 26 hours in meetings per week on average. Then they blabber about how 40 hours a week is not enough.

These are the same people who complain about life being too short. Because they don’t know how to live it.

People don’t work longer because there’s more work to do. They work longer because they can’t get the work done in the week.

Also, try to do all your communication asynchronously, as Jason Fried says.

IM is like a 24-hour meeting where everyone has the license to disturb anyone, at any time.

Use less instant messaging and more email.

First, it gives you the freedom to respond when you’re free, not when others want you to.

Second, the person writing the email will think harder and be specific.

Do you receive emails like these:

  • “What do you think?”

  • “Thoughts?”

It shows intellectual laziness. The sender didn’t take the time to apply his own brain to the problem. Asynchronous communication forces you to do your research before hitting that send button.

Interruptions and meetings are the reason work doesn’t happen at work. Cut them out and reclaim your life.

Accept Failure

Remove working on weekends as an option. Especially, if you did not manage to complete your work on Friday.

Two reasons:

  • There’s probably nothing big going to happen when you come back on Monday

  • It’ll be a good lesson. Next week, you’ll try to wind up everything before the weekend.

When we cannot complete the work on time, we work longer.

Why can’t we decrease the amount of work? Most work is useless anyway — remember the 80/20 rule.

Use the data gathered this week to plan the next week better. Over time you’ll find ways to either:

  • Complete the work within the weekdays, or

  • Do less while still achieve more


People need time off to perform better. Moreover, the best people are already quite productive on the weekends — even outside of their jobs.

There’s a good chance that they are:

  • Working on a new skill set

  • Using the weekend for personal development

  • Spending quality time with their loved ones

  • Reading, writing or pursuing their hobbies

  • Working on a side hustle

All of these things help them rejuvenate and come back to work with a smile.

Start establishing these boundaries today. Your future self and your team will thank you for this.

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Written on June 22, 2020