Health & Wellness

Why the short weeks sometimes feel the longest

Woo-hoo, it’s a three- or four-day week for most of us! And we’re all probably thinking the same thing: the week will fly by and Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Why then does the week start to drag and drag, to the point where it feels like Turkey day might never arrive?

If you’re one of those people who feels like the short weeks tend to be the longest — here are a few reasons why, and what you can do to change it.

1. Reality doesn’t live up to your expectations.

“People who tend to have anticipatory expectations — forecasting how something will feel — if reality doesn’t match that feeling, it may throw them for a loop,” said Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine.

So starting the week thinking this is going to be a piece of cake probably isn’t the best idea. What to do instead? “Make a list at the beginning of the week of everything you must accomplish before the end of your week. Only include critical tasks and focus on those,” said David Allen, author of the popular book, "Getting Things Done."

Another approach? "Set an intention for each day and make a list in your head of the top three things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the day," advised Chris Bailey, the author of the book and blog, The Productivity Project. "It's so stupidly simple, but it helps you decide what's not important and helps you focus for the day."

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2. Three-day weeks can be just as busy as full weeks.

“Often in a short week, people try to cram just as much as they would into a full week,” said Saltz. “That’s why it doesn’t always feel so great.”

Try to anticipate your workload the week before and aim to scale back on scheduling meetings or coffee chats with colleagues. As Allen suggested, externalize all of your commitments by putting them on a list and focus on tackling it by the end of your work week.

3. You approach short weeks like a vacation week.

"A short week is not a vacation week," warned Saltz, while noting a lot of people frequently think of it that way. Instead, she suggested focusing on your reality: You likely have a lot of work to do before your four-day weekend hits.

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4. You're less engaged than you typically are.

"The less engaged we are, the slower time goes by," noted Bailey. "On the opposite side of things, when you're fully immersed in something, you'll feel like 15 minutes has gone by, yet it's already noon."

Though you may not want to admit it, this might be the case for a lot of people this week. Refocus and commit to being as productive as possible while you're actually at work.

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How to transition from work to home without stress

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How to transition from work to home without stress

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5. You keep thinking about the future instead of working in the moment.

Already day dreaming about that pumpkin pie? Quit it!

"In any given moment, we're only focusing on what is in front of us about 50 percent," noted Bailey. "The other 47 percent is in fantasy land or brainstorming, and during a short week this is probably pretty accurate."

As mentioned in the first point, the best way to combat this habit is to work with intention and set goals for yourself each day.

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