I don’t know about you, but a successful weekend to me means getting out of bed before ten and making sure all of the laundry is done and the house is clean before heading out for the night. That’s my goal, and I’m pretty darn happy if I accomplish it.
To people like Mark Zuckerberg and Benjamin Franklin, though, success isn’t just a goal to achieve. It’s something they weave into their daily lives – whether it’s deciding how to close a deal on a Monday, or reflecting on how to close a week on a Friday. Whereas most people, myself included, look forward to a weekend of hanging out and catching up on chores, successful people have one or more of the following, more productive weekend habits:
Keep a Regular Weekday Routine
When you don’t have work on a Saturday morning, it’s tempting to sleep in. Actually, you might want to keep your regular hours instead.
According to Buffer co-founder and CEO Joel Gascoigne, he made it a point not to wake up an hour later than he does on weekdays. That is, if you’re awake by 5 AM from Monday to Friday, you should be up by 6 AM on a Saturday. Otherwise, your biological clock will get thrown out of whack, and you’ll find yourself groggy on days when you should be awake and alert.
Did you know planning your weekends can make you happier? In his book Stumbling on Happiness, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert writes: “…the greatest achievement of the human brain is its ability to imagine objects and episodes that do not exist in the realm of the real.” If you have something concrete to look forward to on the weekend (a night out with friends, a 5-hour marathon of your favorite TV show), it can do wonders for your mood.
Not sure what to do with your weekend, exactly? Don’t fret. Take a leaf out of Benjamin Franklin’s book, and create a daily schedule based on 13 rules to live by. Ask yourself “What good things can I do today?” at the start of every day, and “What good things have I done today?” at the end. Steve Jobs had a similar routine: Every morning for 33 years, he looked in the mirror and reflected on the question: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
Do Something Different
Unsurprisingly, a lot of successful people have quirky habits. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, only eats meat from animals he hunts himself. Likewise, Warren Buffett plays the ukulele, Sergey Brin engages in daredevil sports every chance he gets, and Sandy Lerner collects rare books, as well as jousting costumes and swords!
Of course, your own hobbies don’t need to be as out-of-this-world as theirs. If writing, painting, drawing, designing or what-have-you makes you happy, and allows you to blow off some steam, that’s more than enough.
Be Physically Active
You might have heard about how sitting is the new “silent killer.” If you spend most of your weekdays in a chair, you raise your risk of developing life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Take up a sport a la Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who plays tennis every morning before she goes to work at 8 AM. Or, join your athletic friends when they run their marathons. Trust me; they’ll be happy to have something to talk about other than work-related issues.
Take Stock of Finances
It might sound like a Scrooge-like thing to do, but yes: Successful people take time out to see how they’re doing, finances-wise. At least, that’s what Thomas Stanley and William Danko found out, when they were researching their book The Millionaire Next Door. They found that wealthy people were more likely to keep track of their cash inflows and outflows, so they have a better grip on their spending and are less likely to buy things they don’t need.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge yourself every now and then. Saving money is a lot like dieting: If you quit junk food (impulse buys) cold turkey, it’s pretty likely you’ll go back to your old habits. It’s better to cut these out gradually, so you’ll get used to not having them in your life at all.
Prepare for the Week Ahead
To say that Jack Dorsey has a hectic life is an understatement. The Twitter founder and Square CEO logs in an incredible 16 hours per day, since he has to divide his time between the two companies he manages. He can keep this up because he takes his Saturdays off for a hike, and spends his Sundays on “reflections, feedback, strategy and getting ready for the rest of the week.”
Thirty minutes before you sleep on a Sunday night, write your To-Do list for the week. Regardless of how you structure that list, it should give you a good picture of what to expect from the upcoming days. That way, if you need to make last-minute adjustments to your schedule for any reason, you can do it all without a sweat.
Take a Break
You’ve already been working your butt off from Monday to Friday. Why on Earth would you want to work some more on the two days you should be resting?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, even workaholics like Jack Dorsey need downtime every now and then. The same goes for Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who doesn’t bring his work home and makes time for his family on the weekends. It’s better to take frequent breaks and spread out your energy levels evenly, than force yourself to work non-stop until you run yourself to the ground.
Most people think success leads to happiness. However, according to happiness expert Shawn Achor, it’s the other way around. In his book The Happiness Advantage, Achor argues that successful people are where they are because they allowed themselves to be happy. So think of the things you’re grateful for in your life, and remind yourself of them when you feel down or upset.
Keep in mind that these habits, by themselves, won’t make you successful. Yes, they can get you into the right mindset, and they’ll inject a little more energy into your body where there’s none. At the end of the day, though, it’s what you do with these two that’ll make the difference. Have a clear picture of where you want to be, and use these habits to help you get there.