Sunday used to be a day for attending church, relaxing, spending time with family and friends and recharging ourselves spiritually, mentally, socially, and physically.
Unfortunately, Sunday is no longer the Lord’s day and disconnecting Sunday from our faith has made it easier to use Sunday as just another day of the week.
There are many reasons for this change in attitude. Technology has made it easier to work from home. The global economy means we are dealing with people around the world who live in different time zones. Maybe we feel pressure from our boss to work extra hours or we feel internal pressure from our self in the effort to get ahead in our career.
Many of these reasons influence us to feel obligated to stay available for work outside traditional business hours.
A 2017 survey from Enterprise Holdings found that nearly seven in 10 Americans put in a full workday (the equivalent of nine hours) on at least one weekend a month. The same survey also noted that two-thirds of respondents felt their employers expected them to work over the weekend. And, 61% said they struggled to not think about work over the weekend. Of this group, two-thirds also admitted they checked and answered work-related emails on a typical weekend.
For the sake of our health and our sanity, we should stop or at least try to minimize Sunday work and keep our normal working hours where they belong.
Here are some ways to win back your Sunday from people (including yourself) who are trying to use this day of rest as an extra day of work.
Taking an entire day off from work is necessary for physical, emotional and mental health, as well as for productivity and creativity. And there is no need to feel guilty. Co-workers or colleagues should recognize the value of letting you recharge your batteries. They may expect to hear from you on the weekend, and if so it’s going to be hard to stop. On the other hand, they may be annoyed with you if you are taking them away from their own important family time.
While it’s convenient to have an office at home, it’s also very easy to fall into bad habits. Even if you don’t have a home office, it takes minimal effort to get out the laptop and start answering email on Sunday. You may think you’re just checking your email, sending a quick invoice or writing a to-do list for Monday, but you’re really opening the door to do hours of work.
Step away from work by leaving the house on Sunday to enjoy family and friends where you can’t access the computer. Or close the door to the home office and unplug the work phone, hide your laptop and relax. When you successfully unplug from work once, it becomes easier to make a habit of it.
The ability to step away largely depends on defining your priorities. We always have time to do the necessary things in life, like eat, sleep, shower and dress. But how often do we put our own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health as our #1 priority? How often does your family come first? What’s really most important in your life—family or work?
It may be time to reassess time-wasting activities. If email or internet surfing at work squanders your valuable hours, establish rules to keep yourself on task. That may mean turning off email notifications and replying in batches during limited periods each day. If you’re mindlessly surfing Facebook or cat memes when you should be getting work done, refocus.
If you find your work schedule being gobbled up by people who waste your time, find ways to diplomatically limit those interactions. Politely excuse yourself when someone gets into longwinded personal conversations at work. When you focus on being highly productive at work, you’ll have more time on the weekends for personal priorities.
Step back and look at your weekly schedule to seek out those routines that need to change. Instead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Find out what you can delegate to others to help them learn and grow in different ways while freeing up your time for your higher priorities. This applies to both home and work tasks.
Maybe at work, it’s time rearrange work responsibilities. Or at home, it may be time to teach the kids to do their own laundry. The tasks may not get done in exactly the same way you would do it, but done is done and the kids and your staff will never learn new skills if you never give them a chance to learn new skills
Trying to make too many large changes too soon is a recipe for failure. Start small, define something you can change, become successful at that small change and build from there.
Maybe you can start by using Friday as a day to get organized for the week ahead. Part of the reason many people find themselves working on Sunday is to send out agendas, emails, questions or even new assignments on Sunday night. And that half hour you plan to spend quickly turns into a few hours of work.
When we think about the reasons why we work, we may think that the only purpose for work is to earn money to buy the necessities. God has much more depth to our work than merely earning money. Our work is an opportunity to use our gifts and our energies to help meet the needs of our fellow man, while using the talents and gifts the Lord has given us.
One thing to remember is that work was given to man as a gift. In the earliest part of the creation story God, the universe’s first worker, gave man the garden to “tend and keep” (Genesis 2:15). The first thing God did with Adam was to put him to work in the Garden of Eden.
Understanding the true nature of work also means putting work into the proper prospective and making sure we achieve a work-life balance. No matter how many hours we work, it seems there is always more work to do.
Work never goes away.
But life moves on no matter how much work there is. The kids birthdays pass, we fail to celebrate anniversaries and our friendships wither. Those precious times with family and friends can never be regained. Use Sunday as a day to reconnect with the important people in your life. After all, Sunday is not Monday.
Checkout the Manage Your Money God’s Way podcast for more on avoiding work on Sunday.