It won't come as a surprise to many readers that, of all the New York City-based execs I interviewed recently, most said they work on the weekends.

It didn't come as a surprise to me — these are busy people; their companies are growing; the business world doesn't stop just because they'd rather sleep in and make pancakes.

What intrigued me more was the kind of work these execs said they saved for the weekend: big-picture stuff. In fact, I heard the phrase "big-picture," along with the phrases "strategic" and "creative," more than once.

Take Nadia Boujarwah, the cofounder and CEO of clothing subscription service Dia&Co, for example.

Boujarwah told me that, almost every weekend, she and her cofounder, Lydia Gilbert, go on "strategy walks" together. It's a tradition that's lasted since before they even launched the company. Today, the two of them take a walk down New York City's West Side Highway and "spend a couple hours outside, thinking about bigger-picture questions," she said. "Some of the more creative thinking happens then."

Meanwhile, Scott Britton, the cofounder of Troops, which creates Slackbots for sales teams, takes himself out for coffee on a weekend morning so he can think deeply.

"I get a few work projects done that I find hard to do during the week because [during the workweek] I don't have a dedicated block of two to three hours that isn't interrupted by meetings or customer calls," he told me. "More high-level, strategy, project-type work" gets done that day.

And Kenny Dichter, the founder and CEO of private aviation company Wheels Up, said he generally spends the weekend relaxing with his family and thinking about "big, long-term things in the business."

Ilir Sela's weekend routine looks slightly different, but the idea is the same: Solve big problems.

Sela is the founder and CEO of Slice, a mobile app that lets you order from local pizzerias, and on Saturdays, he visits different pizzerias. "I try to stay in touch with the challenges that they're facing and how is Slice solving their problems, but also learn what they don't like about Slice so that we can continue to improve."

When these execs were describing their workday routines, I heard about back-to-back meetings and phone calls, with email responses squeezed in between. In other words, they barely have time to catch their breath, let alone concentrate deeply or think outside the box.

And yet deep concentration and out-of-the-box thinking is what helped them start their companies, and ultimately is what pushes their company forward.

That's true even if you're not a company founder or exec — it's unlikely you'll get ahead in your career or make an impact on your current organization unless you take a step back. And the weekends — when you probably won't be deluged by Slack messages and emails and phone calls — can be the perfect time to do that.

As time-management expert and author Laura Vanderkam previously told Business Insider, it helps to use Saturday mornings to "think a little bit deeper" on a tough problem or project and Sunday evenings to think about the week ahead.

This isn't to say that you have to work on the weekends. If you can make room for big-picture thinking during the week, go for it. But if you're planning to buckle down this weekend anyway, take a tip from these execs and make the most of your time by doing something more creative.