The secret to a great week? Your weekend

Tending your hours photo courtesy flirkr user Andy_Myers_Esq

(MoneyWatch) Have you ever noticed how some people come to work Monday ready for anything? They're relaxed and fresh. They're clear on their goals. They seem happy with life in general. What's their secret?

Most likely, they had a great weekend.

Weekends are to top performers what cross-training is to athletes. Sure, you could run the same five miles every day of the week. But you'd probably run them faster -- and enjoy them more -- if you cycled, swam, or took a class one or two days instead. And you'd be less likely to get injured (or burned out, in working terms).

The key with weekends is to recognize that they require just as much care and attention as your working days. As former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told me (for my ebook on this topic, which came out a few weeks ago) "You have to set an appointment to go off the grid as surely as to go on it." Otherwise you risk that "You'll sit about wasting an hour of what little time you have figuring out what to do with the rest of it."

Huckabee knows what he wants to do on Sundays (which, since he tapes his Fox News show on Saturdays, has to function as his weekend). As he told me, "I almost never just sit and watch television." Instead, he's up on time to work out in his home in Florida. Then he and his wife attend worship services at a church where beach attire is totally fine. After church, Huckabee often does sit on the beach, enjoying some carefully chosen leisure time where he can be alone with his thoughts. Then he and his wife often have dinner with friends.

The result is a day off that feels like a Sabbath should -- restful and restorative. Many successful people make a point of pursuing this rejuvenation. On the other side of the political spectrum, Joan Blades, co-founder of advocacy group MoveOn.org, plays soccer every Sunday. Dominique Schurman, CEO of greeting card company Papyrus, told me that she runs, swims and gardens. In particular, with her gardening she likes moving her pots around, studying different ways to combine color and texture. Since this is what she asks her card designers to do during the week -- in a slightly different format -- it gives her work a tactile dimension

You certainly don't want to plan your weekends like your weekdays -- in a death march from one thing to another. But successful people know that there are many things we'd all like to do in life, and they can't all wait for retirement. Weekends are the key to feeling like you have a full life now. When you enjoy that full life, you can hit Monday ready to go -- knowing you have another great weekend waiting for you in a few days.

What will you be doing this weekend?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Andy_Myers_Esq

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