25 Ways to Make Your After-Work Hours Feel Like Weekends

published May 11, 2023
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As a hard-working, dedicated, and super-sleepy contributor to the side hustle culture, some days it feels like I spend every waking moment working. I start the day off as late as humanly possible before logging on for my 9 to 5 at a scrappy and scaling tech startup. And after 8 or so hours of optimizing and circling back and aligning and pinging and syncing, I switch laptops and pop on my creative writing cap. Then I interview home staging experts about their styling secrets, or divulge my household’s little quirks, or simply advise methods of concealing poop smells. All in a day’s work!

At this point, I think everyone is burnt out on even blabbering about burnout. And as much as I’m invested in and value my work and the varied ways I get to use my brain to pay the bills, sometimes (and often!) you need to take a break. “Working for the Weekend” is a banger of a song, but it’s no way to live a life! The ways you engage — or disengage — after work are critical for your well-being. Think about it: Your after-work time shouldn’t be defined simply as the time after working ends. There are countless ways to maximize your time after work! Here are 25 ways to make your post-work evenings (aka your 5-9) feel a little more like carefree weekends. 

  1. Refresh your location, whether that looks like walking around the block, commuting home, or simply switching rooms. Just get the heck away from where you were working and enjoy an environmental reset.
  2. Meet a friend at your favorite cozy bar’s happy hour and make it home in time to relax and unwind. Friend’s tied up? Grab a book and indulge in a solo martini or mocktail.
  3. Pop into a store that’s not a typical stop along your rotation and thus feels more like a treat. For me, that’s World Market, my local Japanese grocery store, or a craft store.
  4. Start tackling that big home project you’ve been putting off. Even if you only have time to tape up your borders and can’t actually start painting walls until Saturday, putting a dent in the prep work adds up.
  5. Treat yourself to an ice cream. Craft homemade sundaes or try a new flavor with creative toppings at a parlor.
  6. Head to the movie theater and snack on popcorn and candy for dinner. Everything in moderation!
  7. Take your workout outside. Find a spot in the yard, on the sidewalk, or at a park and work through your typical routine in the fresh air.
  8. Spend time working on a creative hobby. Try out some low-stakes painting, sketching, cross-stitch, or collage. It’s not about the end result, but rather the process of letting time fade away while you focus on creativity for creativity’s sake. 
  9. Indulge in a hot shower or long bath, pop on clean pajamas, and then switch out your sheets for a fresh set. Light a soothing candle and unwind in the flame’s glow.
  10. Embrace your inner kid. Cook one of your favorite childhood meals (or grab some of your favorite childhood snacks) and watch a notable film or series from your youth. I’m talking about Capri Suns and “A League of Their Own.” I’m talking about a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal and “Clarissa Explains It All” (on Paramount Plus!).
  11. Museums frequently offer free or discounted admission on certain weeknights. Make a night of your visit.
  12. Download a free Geocaching app and explore your area in search of treasure. Be sure to pack a flashlight for nightfall.
  13. Make your dinner a “Chopped” experience by selecting three random ingredients from the fridge and pantry and building your dinner or dessert off those items. This activity is especially handy for those nights when your weekly grocery supply is nearing depletion.
  14. If you have a pet, make the evening all about them. Set aside time to play with their favorite toys. Take your pup on a walk to their favorite park. Introduce a new treat or toy. Maybe even select one together at the pet shop!
  15. Treat yourself to an at-home mani/pedi. Soak your toes, try out a new color, and don’t forget cuticle oil. 
  16. Whether you’re waiting on a new album release or want to explore a classic, kick your feet up, pour a glass of wine or cup of soothing tea, and zone out while listening to an album start to finish. Make a whole thing of it!
  17. If there’s a restaurant everyone’s been raving about or a local place that’s caught your eye, make a reservation and treat yourself to a new experience. If you can swing it, go all in on appetizers, shared plates, and dessert, too!
  18. Host a clothing swap with your friends and make the most of sustainably refreshing your seasonal wardrobes.
  19. Give a room that’s grown stale a quick makeover by rearranging the furniture.
  20. While a movie marathon can be tough to squeeze in on a weeknight, a TV marathon isn’t. Curate three to four episodes based on a theme. Some inspiration includes your favorite holiday episodes, cameo appearance episodes, or series crossover episodes. 
  21. Break out your puzzles and board games for an impromptu game night. 
  22. If you’re a video game fan, invite a few friends over and set up a tournament. (Mario Kart pairs well with pizza delivery!)
  23. If you have a favorite food-focused movie, recreate the film’s main dishes at home. Try pasta with homemade tomato sauce and “The Godfather,” or egg sandwiches and “Spanglish,” or Cubanos and “Chef.”
  24. Take the first step toward learning something new, whether that means attending a local class on woodworking or watching a documentary about a major historical or cultural event (my personal favorite, Ken Burns’ “Country Music” got me through the first leg of pandemic lockdown).
  25. Flex your friendship muscles. Offer to babysit for a friend’s kids. Bring homemade baked goods to a neighbor. Check in on a pal who’s going through a tough time. Arguably the best way to spend a weeknight!