There’s a magical period of time that can only be found between the day you leave one job and the day you actually start a new gig you’ve got lined up. There’s nothing else quite like it—a real vacation unmarred by work emergencies, project spillovers, or impending deadlines.
It’d be hard to judge anyone for dreaming of extending that blissful in-between phase and filling it with travel, rest, and all kinds of projects you haven’t had time to tackle. But usually, your old company wants you to stay as long as possible (at the very least the customary two weeks) and your new one wants you there as soon as possible.
And sometimes that leaves you with just a weekend to yourself. How in the world are you going to fit everything into a measly two days? The hard truth is that you can’t. But you can still have some fun, get some rest, and be ready to go.
Here are a few tips to help you plan it right and make the most of the time you have.
Celebrate—But Not Too Much
It’s natural to want to celebrate. But don’t overdo it. If you’re going to indulge in some drinks (or greasy foods for that matter), do it on Friday and remember what you already know about moderation. The last thing you want is day drink your way through Sunday and arrive at your new office feeling hungover.
Be Realistic About Your To-Do List
The biggest mistake you can make is to be too ambitious, according to Muse Career Coach Tara Goodfellow. If you try to take all the things you’d normally do in two weeks off and stuff them into one weekend, you’re going to get overwhelmed and stressed.
“If you go away or do a big weekend event, you’re setting yourself up to start drained,” she says. And if you sign up for that spin class you’ve never tried before and go so all out that you can’t move for two days afterwards, you’ll end up “sore, exhausted, and cranky.”
Easy on the organizing projects too. On Friday night, you might be determined to do a full spring cleaning, but by Sunday you might freak out when it’s nowhere near done and you’ll have to spend the next few weeks living in the mess that is a half-finished organizing job.
Frontload Any Prep You Still Have to Do
The key is to get this stuff out of the way as early as possible. That might mean setting out your first-day clothes when you get home on Friday, says Muse Career Coach Clayton Wert. Or maybe it’s sitting down with your laptop and a cup of coffee on Saturday morning and spending a few hours going over any materials you’ve been sent, jotting down some notes about things you want to remember or questions you have, or poking around LinkedIn to learn about your new team. Or perhaps it’s going out to do a little shopping on Saturday to pick up a new work bag to get you excited.
Sleep, Relax, and Take Care of Yourself
First, make sure you’re getting enough sleep on each of the three nights you’ve got, Wert emphasizes. But beyond that, he says, “do what you need to do to feel good, what puts you in a positive mindset.”
Once you’ve done your last bit of prep, start winding down and do whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed and recharged. That could mean going on a run, taking the yoga class you love, getting a massage, sitting down with a good book for a few hours, or visiting your favorite coffee shop.
Unplugging and doing whatever activity you know you enjoy can help alleviate stress and anxiety you might not even realize is there, Goodfellow says. And if you are aware of your nerves, don’t be afraid to share that with those close to you.
“Sometimes people don’t realize how normal it is to be nervous. They think they should just be excited,” she says. “It’s okay to communicate those fears and concerns and anxieties with people. A lot of times that’s held in,” she adds, but letting it out can provide some comfort.
“Focus on the Positive Things Ahead”
Sometimes the hardest part of the transition isn’t starting the new job, but breaking free from the old one and processing any difficult emotions it left you with. And such an abbreviated break in between might exacerbate that stress.
“Instead of still trying to hold on to the baggage, put that on the back burner for now. You can’t carry that with you the first week or two [of your new job], which is not to say you shouldn’t go back to it,” says Muse Career Coach Eloise Eonnet.
But in this quick turnaround scenario, “focus on the positive things ahead,” she says. “Imagine yourself in great detail a year from now at that company. What are the kinds of relationships you’ve built? What projects are you working on?”
Spending your time visualizing your happy future at your new job—rather than rehashing the terrible boss or toxic culture you dealt with at your last one—will help you start off on the right foot.
We’d never argue that having just a couple days between jobs is exactly as refreshing as having a few weeks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of that weekend. And don’t forget to think ahead. Carve out some time for self-care in the first weeks at your new job, even if it’s just slotting in a yoga class every Thursday or time to go to the park every weekend.
Finally, plan a real vacation or even just a long weekend, whatever your new time-off policy and company culture allows. Make sure it’s not too far out of sight and start looking forward to it.
Photo of person sitting on a park bench reading a book courtesy of fancy.yan/Getty Images.
A longtime word nerd and bookworm, Stav studied history and dance at Stanford and later journalism at Columbia. Before joining The Muse, Stav was a staff writer at Newsweek, where she wrote about everything from Nazi hunters to Chinese adoptees to Good Girls Revolt, the real story and fictionalized TV show about a 1970 gender discrimination case at the magazine. She prefers sunshine and tolerates winters grudgingly.More from this Author