Taking a vacation? Don’t forget to pack your routineI’ve always believed establishing a routine and building in time for recovery (breaks and vacations) is key to thriving at work and in life. There are so many benefits to establishing and implementing a routine. My routine reduces decision fatigue and simplifies communication with everyone in my personal and professional life. Most importantly, routine helps me block time for my top priorities.

Research suggests a common habit among successful people is that they follow a routine seven days a week – and even on vacation. Yet, as much as I am a believer in the power of routine, I have always tossed aside my routine entirely on weekends and vacations/staycations.

Admittedly, this sometimes leads to fatigue on Mondays or an unrested return to work after a holiday.

I’ve also noticed my teenager is starting to struggle on weekends. It seems when we throw away the routine, we also throw away the powerful tool that keeps her motivated, settled and feeling her best.

After a conversation with an old friend, easily one of the most energetic and productive people I know, I began to wonder if my family would benefit from sticking to a routine on weekends and holidays. She and her young family seem to be thriving. They juggle two demanding professional careers, family life and self-care beautifully. They also make time for vacations to exotic locations across the world twice a year. I wasn’t surprised to learn one of her “secrets to success” is her routine. However, I was surprised to hear she sticks to the key elements of her routine while on vacation.

For example, when not on vacation she makes time for exercise every day. Her fitness routine is very clearly defined. While on vacation, she sticks to exercising daily but gives herself the leeway to choose how she will exercise. Maybe she’ll climb the steps of a local tower to see the extraordinary view, go for a hike or rent a bike and explore a nearby village. She claims she always returns to work feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into work, instead of tired and not ready to face the “real world”.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, says successful people treat the weekend (and likewise, vacations) as their secret weapon in professional success. “You need to hit Monday ready to go. To do that, you need weekends that rejuvenate you, rather than exhaust or disappoint you. Cross-training makes you a better athlete, and likewise, exercise, volunteer work, spiritual activities, and hands-on parenting make you a better worker than if you just worked all the time.”

I am now determined to stick to key elements of my routine on the weekends and on vacations. In my case, I’ve realized sleep is the most essential part of my routine. I am doing my best to get eight hours of sleep each night of the weekend. I have also identified my daughter does best when her meal schedule is consistent. So, we are striving to keep meal times consistent on weekends too.

So far, it’s working well. Our weekends have been much smoother since we incorporated key elements of our routine into Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. In the process, I’ve learned there is no need to stick to all elements of a routine during weekends or vacations. We need to make space in life to explore new things and simply be spontaneous.

It’s equally important to remember there will always be exceptions to our daily routine whether at home or away. This is not a science and life is full of curveballs, after all. But when we make the effort to build and stick to a daily routine most of the time, we are better equipped to make the most of our days so we can thrive at work – and life.

Do you keep a routine and if so, do you stick with it on the weekends or on vacation? Please share. We’d love to hear what works best for you.

You can learn more about the power of routine in our Proactive Routine online course.

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