Caution: Weekends may be more productive than they appear.

I have come to ascribe to a few small gems of wisdom that direct my day-to-day life. And as you look at them all in a row here, you won’t be surprised one bit that they are the words I rely on to keep me moving moment to moment if you know me even in the slightest.

They are, in no particular order:

Busy people get things done. (A motto one of my first bosses imparted to me and has stuck ever since.)

Vivre sans temps mort. (Or, Live without wasted time. I am contemplating a tattoo, I kid you not.)

Do the next thing. (Initially a motivator for the grief-stricken, actually quite useful generally.)

Anyone can eat an elephant one bite at a time. (Think about it.)

Holy exhausting, Batman! Right? I know, I know. But it’s how I get through any solitary evenings and weekends I sometimes find myself confronted with, how I keep myself honest and make an effort to make the most of my time.

Earlier this week, I looked ahead at the three empty days of a holiday weekend on my calendar with dread. No plans, no obligations, no deadlines, no expectations. Is there anything worse in life? (Yes, obviously there are MUCH worse things in life. Just go with me on this.)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re crazy, Lisa, you’re thinking. Unscheduled time is a gift from the gods, Lisa. Embrace it, revel in it, swim in it like the pool of infinite bliss that it is.

And you’re right. It is, and I do. Of course I do. But like a blank canvas or a blank page, a blank day can be, well, overwhelming. How do you keep from sleeping in, waking up to your cat mewing for food, putting on some coffee and curling back up in bed to watch five episodes of Boardwalk Empire before you realize that it’s 3pm and you haven’t moved in hours? What good, really, are those days?

They’re escapes, Lisa. And everyone deserves them now and then.

Yes. Exactly. NOW AND THEN. Not three days in a row of lazy binge-watching with the empty delivery cartons piling up around you. And trust me, if I don’t repeat to myself one or more of those phrases above on a semi-regular basis, I would all too easily fall into those days on repeat.

So I took my blank canvas of a weekend and, as I’m known to do, I made a list. I made a list of all the things I could do to fill the three empty days ahead, and I kept that list close by as these weekend hours ticked by.

Even with the list, I sit writing this on Sunday night worried I didn’t do enough. I’m worried I didn’t get quite as far along as I should have in various projects. Worried my apartment isn’t clean enough for all the time I had to work on it. Worried I spent too much time sitting and not enough time moving. Worried.

What did I do this weekend? I suppose I did a few things when I look back on it.

I did housework. I watched films for work and fun – enough to be considered a mini film festival, I think. I read a large section in the novel I’m in the middle of. I made a Target run for some necessities, and more than a couple grocery stops for fresh fruits and veggies for breakfasts and dinners in. I took a visit out to Roosevelt Island, one of the sites to see on my NYC List. I finished a very rough first draft of the first screenplay I’ve written since college. I got three solid, rejuvenating nights of sleep. (And yes, I watched several hours of Boardwalk Empire. But I was working on my Fall Preview blog posts while I did it!)

I did all the things I enjoy, and on a budget, too. More, I did things now that I know I’ll be glad I did later. After I hit publish on this post, I’ll go make one more dinner for the weekend, watch another movie or two and get to sleep at a decent hour. And this three day holiday weekend, quiet and unstructured as it was, will go down in the books as one well spent.