1. They Don't Keep Spinning.Yes, successful people work a lot. Martha Stewart, for instance, has famously claimed to sleep just four hours a night. But there are times to push and times not to. We need both. "A decade ago, I let my days just sort of all blend together," says James Reinhart, whose San Francisco-based online clothing resale platform ThredUp.com has grown from 30 employees to 140 in the past year. After starting the company, though, he realized that "it's the quality of my decision making that ultimately makes the company successful." Without the time to go into refresh mode, "you never end up with the space to think."
So now he makes a point of golfing from 6 to 8 in the morning before his family wakes up, getting out with his daughter, and running. Reinhart claims to do his best thinking while hitting the trails in a nearby state park. "I come back from runs with clarity on decisions I want to make," he says. (He may be onto something; a number of neurological studies have found that exercise improves brain function.)
Of course, in a world where we tether ourselves to our inboxes, unplugging is easier said than done. You take your iPhone along when you meet a friend for coffee. She's five minutes late. You start checking your email and, boom! Work mode is back. That's part of modern life, but you can still carve out a few hours for a "tech Sabbath," which is time with no electronic devices. Try turning the smart phone off Friday or Saturday night and turning it back on 24 hours later. Probably nothing has changed, save for the level of your energy.
2. They Don't Go Limp.If you spend your workweek running—or worse, flying—from place to place, you may think you want to collapse on the couch all weekend. But resist the urge: First, it's impossible to do "nothing." Second: Think of the logistics. Want tickets to Cirque du Soleil? So do other people. Need a babysitter? She won't show up on a whim. Finally, research into human happiness is finding that anticipation accounts for a major chunk of the mood boost associated with any activity. One well-known Dutch study of vacationers found that holiday-goers were happier than people who weren't taking vacations, but the increased happiness largely happened before the trips, as people anticipated the fun to come. Compare it to opening Christmas presents: The act only takes an hour, but seeing wrapped gifts under the tree stretches out the joy for weeks. If you make a reservation on Wednesday for a Saturday-night dinner at your favorite restaurant, you'll spend the next three days imagining your pasta carbonara to come—which improves your weekend and your week.
Next: The chores you should definitely not do on your days off