A short but productive weekend

A couple of times per year China’s weekend is only one day. This weekend is one of those times, because tomorrow (Sunday) will be a regular working day. In two weeks we will have the next working weekend, where we will have to work on Saturday. The reason is that China will have a week off next week (actually from next Thursday onwards) for China 60th anniversary and for the Mid-Autumn festival, and that part of the extra days off have to be compensated by working on weekends.

I actually like to work on weekends, it’s a good way to catch up on overdue mails or to spend some time thinking over strategic issues. I would not mind having a six-day working week actually, but I realize that productivity for staff may not be as high on the sixth day. I anyway do quite some work on weekends already, so for me the change would not be as big.

The good thing about a short weekend is also that I am much more productive on my day off than on a regular Saturday, we do a lot more things because we have to put them in one day instead of two. This weekend for example, has been quite busy: it started last night with some beers in my office with the MMO team and with our Japanese colleague. We talked a bit about the on-going projects until 7:15 PM when I had to go for drinks + dinner with the Dutch ‘commissarissen’ (a group of Dutch businessmen who meet once a month for a good dinner and a couple of drinks). We had dinner at Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen, a nice wine bar and restaurant in a renovated old villa next to the JW Marriott. Excellent food and good wines, and as usual a lot of fun.

At 10:30 PM I had to leave to go to M1NT to meet with Gary and some Tudou managers, and later with Tan Yuan Yuan and some of the other ballet dancers from the San Francisco Ballet (they are touring through China, I went to watch their Swan Lake performance last Wednesday). We had a couple of bottles of Moet & Chandon rose champagne in the lounge before it became too crowded and we moved up to the roof top terrace. I got home around 2 AM after a great night.

Scott got up at 6 AM already, but luckily we could sleep until about 8 AM. Still a bit too short, but with kids you cannot sleep long anymore. I played with Scott for two hours, among others reading a book together, going for a walk with him around the compound, and playing with him on the slide and the swing. At 10:30 I put him to sleep for an hour, before we went for brunch around 11:45. We had a big brunch at the terrace of Bastiaan Bakery (the Dutch bakery not far from our home in the Hongmei Pedestrian Zone). Among others we had eggs Benedict, hashbrowns and even a Dutch croquette on a soft roll. Scott and Elaine both joined us, very nice to spend time with both of them.

In the afternoon I worked a bit, slept for 20 minutes on the couch (while Scott had his afternoon nap) and read a bit in my book (The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown). I went grocery shopping with my wife and Scott, and around 5 PM we had some guests visiting. A former Daimler colleague, Xie Dan, who was my predecessor at Daimler North East Asia. I never met her, because she went to INSEAD just before I started in my job in Beijing. My wife knew her from that time, and it was nice to meet her and her Danish husband. Scott enjoyed playing with their two kids as well.

Later I went for a 7 km run (34 min) and we interviewed an ayi. We just had dinner with the whole family and I’m now writing a quick blog post. Tonight I still plan to read today’s newspaper on my ebook reader and watch (part of) a movie, but I won’t go to bed too late because of tomorrow’s working day. A productive weekend, exactly how I like them!

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  1. Hi Marc,

    Just back from a 4-day jaunt to Transylvania (and yes I indeed went Nosferatu-hunting in Bran (, but no dice, alas, the Caped Fanged One feared our firepower) and just catching up with your posts.

    Well done with this day, btw — reminds me of a former posting I had at Boxpilot ( back in my native Toronto, Canada from a few years ago, as its Education Director when the bosses would often cajole us into pulling occasional (though optional) Sunday shifts in order to make our Monday morning transitions all the the easier. (The COO thought the notion was out-and-out nutters and flatly refused to come in on weekends). I loved it, though, especially since the phones weren't ringing, the cellphones were silent, email came to a virtual standstill, and road traffic was practically non-existent. It genuinely felt as if you were getting a jump on the competition. They were moving slow, you were moving fast. They slept and you clocked the hours. I reveled in it.

    So here's a thought for you, since we seem to share similar cravings for "creative loafing," my personal term for social calls or cafe surfing in order to let the ideas all fall into place: don't you find that if you *neglect* to schedule these into your day that you're *not* as productive? Think about it…

    We seem to need this kind of structured downtime in order to be better strategists. Of course, these seem to all be scheduled meetings, but I'm presuming they're not stodgy protocol-laden things where you're not permitted to be yourself…

    Sometimes the mere act of watching people is the furthest thing from blowing off time.

    Don't you find?

  2. Agree with you Adam, I also like the feeling of getting ahead of the competition by working weekends. When I think about it, that's also why I like to work in a time zone that's ahead of the world. When I go to bed Silicon Valley just gets up 🙂

    Downtime is indeed important. I sometimes walk out to the Suzhou Creek (next to our office) for 5 minutes to clear my mind. It helps me to know what to focus on when I return to the office.

  3. Hi morning, small question (regarding your remark that you interviewed ayi). Where did you find good ayi's? Michael.

  4. We use several ways. First of all through friends, that's the most reliable option. Secondly through our compound management, which means that the ayi has some track record that is verifiable. Thirdly, the easiest way to find a nanny or ayi is through ayi/nanny service companies. They can normally supply you 3 candidates or so per day if you need them. You pay them a fee of course, but it's worth it. Just on Hongmei Lu there are several companies already, but you will need to speak Chinese of course.