Thanksgiving is almost here, and a lot of people have taken a few days off from work to travel, spend time with family, or just relax and recharge.
At this point, most successful people have planned out (or at least thought about) what they’ll do over the next three days.
“Successful people recognize how important it is to take advantage of a long weekend to refuel their passions and recharge their batteries,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speakerand author of “The Humor Advantage.”
They work extra hard the days leading up to a holiday weekend in order to maximize their leisure time, adds Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.”
They also compartmentalize any work-related tasks that slip into their days off, separating them from their coveted leisure time. “They know that if the two blend into each other, they’ll likely feel cheated afterward,” she says.
Planning ahead for a holiday weekend is important because you don’t want to squander the relatively rare opportunity to decompress from the office.
Taylor explains: “These extended weekends are different from the regular weekend because you know you have extra time to relax, tie up loose ends personally, catch up with important people in your life, or get ahead on a project. And time is a nonrenewable resource. How you spend it should be consistent with what you need to accomplish short- and long-term to be content.”
Not sure how to make the most of the next few days? We’ve got some ideas.
Here are 14 things successful people do before and over holiday weekends:
1. They plan ahead
Many successful people plan out their activities for the holiday weekend well in advance so that they are not drawn into the temptation of working, Kerr says. They make reservations, book flights, go grocery shopping, or schedule activities with their kids.
Taylor adds: “They’re strategic enough to have an action plan for the long weekend, but flexible enough to tackle any urgent work issues that may arise.”
2. They prepare at work
“Most of what they do happens before they leave for a long weekend so that they are psychologically free to relax and enjoy it,” Kerr says.
This includes saying proper goodbyes to colleagues, cleaning up their office, finishing any pressing tasks, and creating a clear plan of action for when they return to the office so they can hit the ground running.
3. They set technology guidelines
Successful people set email and phone rules for themselves and the people they work with, so that people understand when, if at all, they will be available to respond or pick up.
“This can communicate to employees how critical it is for everyone to take a complete break, and that any and all work can wait,” Kerr explains. “Although employees may assume this, they often need to hear it from their leader to be able to completely relax over a holiday weekend.”
4. They unplug
Not only do they set guidelines, but truly successful people actually put their phones and laptops away — at least for Turkey Day.
Don’t sit and stare at screens during your time off. Unplug and try to use as little technology as possible. It will help you sleep better and can keep your mind clear.
5. They do a little bit of nothing
The holidays can be hectic, between traveling and cooking and coordinating plans with family. But the most successful people find some time to really, truly relax.
“With the breakneck pace of business all week long, many successful people do plan — but sometimes those plans include a little bit of nothing,” Taylor says. “The workweek is about deadlines and meetings, so successful people enjoy having a block of time, or a day, to be uncommitted and unscheduled.”
6. They spend time with family and friends
During the week, it’s hard to give focused attention to those you care about — but a holiday weekend is the perfect time to get together with friends and family, since, well, that’s what holidays are really all about.
7. They volunteer
Many successful people find giving their time to worthy charitable groups or causes to be extremely rewarding — especially on Thanksgiving. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or go spend time with senior citizens who may be alone for the holiday.
8. They plan ‘staycations’ or quick weekend getaways
Traveling this time of year can be … chaotic.
“Some successful people plan a mini vacation in their own backyard,” Kerr says. “Staycations hold the appeal of still allowing for a complete mental break but without the added stress or planning involved in a trip somewhere away, wherein people run the risk of returning to work more exhausted than when they left.”
Another good option: Taking a short trip to a destination that only an hour or two away. This is a great way to visit a new place, but doesn’t require too much travel or planning.
9. They get outdoors and enjoy nature
A long weekend is the perfect time to get outside and breathe fresh air, especially after being relatively sequestered inside all week, Taylor explains.
It doesn’t matter if it’s November or July — take advantage of the great outdoors.
10. They exercise
Successful people understand how important exercise is to their physical and mental health — so they don’t get lazy and skip their workouts over holiday weekends.
11. They engage in an activity that supports their passion
“This is a great time to unwind with your favorite pastime or hobby, whether it’s shopping, golfing, socializing, reading, painting, or something else,” Taylor says. Do the things that make you happy; the things you don’t always have time for during the week or over a regular two-day weekend.
12. They don’t think about work
This is a big challenge for a lot of us — but the most successful people don’t stress about that upcoming presentation, or that missed deadline from the previous week. Instead, they focus on enjoying whatever it is they’re doing now.
13. They recharge
We all need to rest and recharge our batteries from time to time. Successful people use holiday weekends to do this.
They do make plans and stay active — but they also make sure to catch up on sleep and schedule some free time at the end of the weekend to unwind.
14. They think ahead
On the last night of a long weekend, many successful people think about the week ahead and key goals they need to accomplish, Taylor says. And they do this without stressing themselves out.