It’s not just a gourmet restaurant, where the Philly cheesesteak eggrolls alone are worthy of three Michelin stars. It’s also an expression that sums up your entire working experience.
At the start of the workweek, you put your head down and muscle your way through a miserable Monday, a terrible Tuesday, a weird Wednesday and a thrombotic Thursday. But then, just before you reach the end of your rope, it’s the end of your week.
It’s Friday, blessed be, and you only have to survive another eight hours before it’s the weekend and you can do whatever you want. Even if what you want to do is nothing at all.
“Truly nothing beats having zero professional responsibility and the freedom to do what you want, whenever you want, for 48 hours,” writes Alyse Kalish, a writer for themuse.com, and the author of a recent post, “When ‘Living for the Weekend’ Is a Huge Red Flag.”
According to Kalish, “not every day at work is going to be sunshine and butterflies and compliments from your team.”
Or, as we say at Harvard Business School, “Duh.”
So, if you’ve had a miserable workweek, you have every right to be “counting the hours until your freedom comes.”
The problem is when you start counting those hours on Monday morning while driving past all the Porsches and Teslas in your company parking lot, looking for a space to squeeze in your Nash Rambler. That’s a red flag.
It’s also OK if you “live for the weekend occasionally,” but if you “live for the weekend constantly,” that’s another red flag. And if you end the weekend feeling “anxious, or sick (or even self-medicating),” that’s red flag No. 3.
And you’re out!
Kalish also points out that a major problem with living for the weekends is that weekends can stink, too.
“Sometimes you’ll have weekends that are as stressful as, if not more than, work,” she writes. It’s true. There are weekends when the batteries in the TV remote run out, and you’ve forgotten to steal any from your co-worker’s pacemaker. Or a dear friend needs financial help, and you do want to help them, but you have to spend the entire weekend hiding under your bed.
In situations like these, it’s not TGIF, but TGIM.
While I’m sure Kalish has the best intentions in composing her panegyric to the weekend, she’s wrong about nothing being better than having zero professional responsibility on Saturday and Sunday. It’s two and half times better having zero professional responsibility from Monday to Friday.
Think about it.
From Monday to Friday, everyone else will be working, so your efforts are likely to go unnoticed. On the other hand, spending a single hour in the office on a Saturday is going to make you a hero in your boss’s beady little eyes. The fact that you do no work from Monday to Friday will be erased completely.
To get the maximum effect of working on a weekend, you will have to do some work. I recommend a two-step program.
Step one: Be sure there’s no one else in the office on Saturday. Find a 12-year-old to teach you how to hack into an HR computer, and send out an email blast regarding the toxic spraying that will be conducted on the weekend to rid your office of armadillos.
Step two: Be sure that your manager will see you at work by contacting him on Saturday morning with an urgent question, like, “Where can I find the employee files for the Houston office? I’m afraid we’re underbilling the vendor receipts in the accounts payable aging reports.”
Your manager will know nothing about vendor receipts or aging reports. He will probably not even remember your company does not have a Houston office, but he will be sure to show up on Saturday morning to see something he has never seen before — you actually doing some work.
You may have to play out this charade for two or three weekends before your boss decides to focus on his own weekends, and leaves you alone. Then you can quit working entirely and achieve the dream — having zero professional responsibility during the weekend, the workweek, and every day of every week, all through the year.
Except for one day a year when you do have a professional responsibility — one you cannot shirk.
You have to come in and demand a raise.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.