How to Set Your Work Week Up for Success

What’s a weekend for?

I used to think weekends were primarily for hanging out with friends and family or for relaxing on the couch, and if I accomplished these then the weekend was a success. I’d generally make time to do a few errands here and there, but they mostly played second fiddle to other activities.

Then came my stuffed pepper epiphany.

It was a Tuesday afternoon in my at-home office. I had plenty of work that I wanted to get to. I also had a fridge full of uncooked ingredients. In addition, I had the knowledge that if I didn’t make some sort of meal for myself before an evening meeting I would show up cranky and irritable due to hunger.

So I reluctantly pushed pause on my workday and spent two hours mid-afternoon making a batch of stuffed peppers in the kitchen. While my belly did get fed, my productivity suffered. I didn’t accomplish as many of my to-dos as I had hoped, in large part because of my mid-afternoon cooking break.

One of the blessings of working from home is the ability to take breaks and goof off in much more fun and creative ways than those office bound souls who are forced to click through celebrity gossip sites for a mental vacation. But in this case I hadn’t needed a break nor really wanted one.

Instead, I’d fallen prey to a lack of boundaries between when I was supposed to be working and when I was free to do household tasks. More importantly, I hadn’t set my work week up for success by preparing for it over the weekend, ahead of time.

The following weekend I vowed not to make the same mistake. I decided to take care of every possible household related errand I could think of. I went grocery shopping, did laundry, and even ordered supplies for my orange tabby cat. On Sunday I cooked a couple of meals ahead of time for week night meals.

My new understanding of my weekends included time for R+R and fun, but the larger mission I now make sure I accomplish involves preparing for the week ahead. Taking care of chores on the weekend sets me up to have a more productive work week. It takes away a number of interruptions and improves my focus.

Here are 3 things you can do to prepare for your work week.

1. Prepare your environment

Think about all the physical things you need to have in order to make your week a smooth success. These are things like having your laundry or dry cleaning done, filling up your gas tank, and stocking your fridge with food. You can also do a general pick up of your house, office, or car to get the week started on a fresh foot.

In addition, if you feel particularly ambitious you can take a moment to conquer a nagging task, like changing a light bulb or dropping off that stack of ill-fitting online purchases at the post office. If some of your tasks cannot be accomplished during the weekend because offices are closed, put all the phone numbers and relevant information in one place so that you can take care of it quickly once the work week begins.

You can also look for places where you could improve your home environment or routines. For example, taking the time to set up a spot for all your pocket items, like keys and wallet, will help you to get out the door faster during the week. Noticing that your newspaper reading habit makes you late each day could be improved by limiting yourself to just one section of the paper. Play with it and see what might work better for you.

2. Organize your agenda

In addition to having your environment in order, take a few minutes on the weekend to look over your calendar. What do you have on your agenda for the upcoming week? What are the main tasks you want to accomplish?

Putting some forethought into planning your week will pay off by helping to keep you focused on your most important priorities.

3. Prepare your mindset

Take a few moments to write how you are feeling about the week ahead. Note what challenges to your success you may experience and how you’d like the week to go. Brainstorm ideas about how you could handle the possible issues of the coming week. Take the time to think through what you could do to make the week go well. This will allow you to go into the week with a plan of action and a good attitude.

By organizing your environment and your agenda and mentally preparing for the week you will set yourself up for success. While it’s nice to relax on the weekend, it’s even better to have a peaceful week. Put a little time in up front to get things running smoothly. You’ll be glad you did.

Alison Elissa Horner is a career consultant who specializes in helping young professionals discover a personally fulfilling career direction. You can sign up for her free weekly tips on navigating your career at or learn about working with her at


  1. Diana Schneidman on the 16th September


    I also work at home and I’ve gone the exact opposite route from you.

    I do some of my best work on the weekend, especially on Sunday afternoon. Few emails coming through, no work-related phone calls. A feeling of calm and a relaxed pace.

    I also enjoy taking time during the week for personal projects.

    Each day is different depending on what needs to get done.


  2. Alison Elissa Horner on the 17th September

    Hi Diana,

    That’s an interesting approach, and I’m glad to hear that it works well for you!

    My husband works a corporate job with a weekday schedule, so while I have the freedom to work whenever, I find I want to be on his same schedule.


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