Don’t Take Vacation From Your Good Habits

Consider these scenarios and the similarities in them:

  • You keep eating healthy food during the week but when the weekend comes, you diet mainly consists of junk food
  • You wake up early during the weekdays, but on weekends you tend to wake up late, thus losing your productivity
  • You have implemented a healthy habit of drinking water while you work, but you “forget” this habit when it’s the weekend

If this is you, then welcome to the club! I have experienced these same things myself.

In fact, I felt I wasn’t honest to myself. I was living with the productive and healthy habits only 80% at a time.

I knew I had to change. Otherwise the remainder 20% of the time would ruin my good habits and the benefits I got from them.

You feel you owe it to yourself

When I was looking at my own behaviors, I realized something important: I felt like I had earned slipping from good habits on the weekends.

Because I had already followed these good habits for 80% of the time, I would be entitled for taking it easier by the end of the week.

With this feeling, I also felt that I had to reward myself from following the habits from Monday to Friday. In other words, not only saw I weekends as recovery time from my busy days, it was also vacation time from my healthy habits too.

This was shown by eating a lot of junk food and other sugary foods, sleeping late, drinking water if I remembered to and pretty much tossing the good habits out of the window.

But hey … it’s wasn’t a big deal – I had earned it! Right?

The missing structure

Finally I understood that I was devaluing my good habits by living carelessly 20% of the time.

After closer examination of the situation, I finally understood what was really causing my different behavior between weekdays and weekends: the structure.

I noticed that when it was a workday, my days were pretty much programmed: I woke up early (around 5.30 AM), worked on my blog, spent some time with my family, ate breakfast and left for work.

During the work day I had regular breaks, ate healthy snacks on regular basis and sipped some water every once in a while.

Eventually I would come back home from work, exercise and spend time with my family.

When it was a weekend, things were completely different. The structure that weekdays (my working days) provided was gone and it was replaced by certain habits, which didn’t make me healthier or feel better.

There was definitely a different structure “in motion” during the weekends. On the other hand, the weekdays had a structure, providing clear limits and boundaries, which made executing healthy habits easier.

Change your strategies for weekends

So, is it possible to unify the behaviors and habits of weekdays for the weekends too? Yes it is!

However, it doesn’t happen without some careful observation first. This is also what I did by noticing why my weekdays were more organized than the weekends.

Take a good look at your weekday patterns and what you do differently at other times. This helps you to understand why you are behaving in a certain way.

Also, attach your habits to your goals. Remember the end reason why you are executing a habit in the first place, so that following it on weekends becomes easier.

Next, set the routines specifically for the weekends. Understand that the nature of weekends is a bit different than during the weekdays, so you might want to adjust your routines accordingly.

Finally, try to make the habits as automatic as possible. For instance, I have taken this approach when implementing the water drinking habit some time ago.

Blueprint for good weekend habits

With the information I just laid out above, here are the steps to take when implementing good weekday habits on weekends:

1. Compare the weekdays and the weekends. One of the most crucial steps for implementing good habits and creating solid structure for my non-weekday times was to go to bed and start waking up early – at the same time every day.

I used to stay up late and sleep in during the weekends. Because my sleeping patterns had changed, I had difficulties of getting sleep on Sunday nights. This made me very tired on Mondays – right when I was supposed to return to work fully rested.

I wanted to get rid of Monday’s tiredness. The only way to do it create a similar weekday structure when the sleeping was concerned was by unifying my sleeping times.

You should analyze the differences between your weekday and weekend habits and be aware of them. With this information, it’s easier to create the uniform routines for the weekends too.

2. Adjust the rules for the weekend. Weekends are different “animals” when it comes to your time usage. Whereas in the weekdays your schedule is probably tight, this may not be the case during the weekends.

On the other hand, this is understandable since you want to loosen up a bit after a busy week at your work. However, it doesn’t mean that you should become too relaxed – especially when it comes to your good habits.

Considering that the weekends are different, adjust the rules accordingly.

For instance, I admit that I slip a bit from my healthy eating habits during the weekends, but it doesn’t mean that I’m overeating sweets, donuts, ice cream or drinking bottles and bottles of beer.

I alloweating some unhealthy food – but in moderation. In fact, I like to make my own sweets if possible (raw chocolate, home-made granola with organic honey, home-made ice cream …).

With this flexibility, I’m not too hard on myself. Otherwise I would probably fall into unhealthy habits completely and that’s something I don’t want.

3. Remember end goals and rewards. There are basically three ways to make your habits stick:

  • You repeat your new habits long enough so that they become automatic
  • You make them compelling enough so that you want to follow them without any effort
  • Make yourself accountable

All of these factors have helped me to form new habits and keep the good ones during the weekends as well.

The more compelling reason you have to execute a habit, the better chances there are that they’ll stick. And when you add in the accountability component to the mix, it makes you to stick with your good habits even tighter.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. As I mentioned earlier, my sleeping times weren’t consistent. I woke, slept in and woke up late during the weekends.

In order to change this behavior, I took a compelling goal (creating and owning a profitable online business) and attached that to a habit (waking up early). That particular goal was the motivator to keep on executing the habit – by waking up early everymorning at 05.30 AM.

The accountability comes into play in two ways.

First, in order to keep my blog’s content fresh, I have to produce new content on consistent basis. My audience expects to receive the new content on bi-weekly basis, so I make everything have a fresh post when I have promised it.

The other way that accountability works is coaching. I use coach to build my online business and accountability is part of the package. Whenever I have a call with my coach, I want to make sure I have results to show.

In order to make my weekends as productive as weekdays, I want to wake-up early and take advantage of that time for building my online business.

With these three components, creating and implementing habits becomes easier.

4. Set reminders for your mobile phone or calendar. This is really part of the step #3, but I wanted to bring it up separately.

In order to remember your new habit, make it easier for yourself by setting notifications to your mobile phone or your calendar.

These notifications help you to remember the new habit, thus preventing you from accidentally ruining your new emerging habits for the weekends.

Once you integrate these new habits to your mind, you realize that you don’t need the reminders anymore and you can execute the new habit automatically on the weekends too.

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s very easy to skip the good habits you have implemented when it’s a weekend.

However, things don’t have to be this way and with simple steps, you can actually implement the healthy habits on weekends as well.

Over to you: How do you make sure that your good habits are not ruined during the weekends?

Please share your tips, experiences and comments in the comment area.

Photo by Nicholas_T

Timo Kiander

Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.

31 Comments

  1. How do I make sure my habits are not ruined??? I haven’t yet! lol

    But I am loving the idea of attaching the routine with the results I want. That SHOULD be all the motivation I need to start using this effectively.

    I have always heard that if the “WHY” is good enough the “HOW” will appear.

    I need to rewrite my Why’s and that should jump me from 80 % to at least 95% …. that’s what I am shooting for anyway! Thanks Timo

    Reply
    • Hi!

      > if the “WHY” is good enough the “HOW” will appear

      Thanks for the great insight :)

      Also, I agree that the “why” is very important. Otherwise it’s quite difficult to stick to your habits.

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
      • Fellas

        Love how you emphasize the why. So important and often overlooked. We often get so stoked when embarking on something new like developing a healthy eating habit. I’m going to eat this, not eat that, etc… Often overlooking why we are doing it in the first place.

        Because we are suppose to isn’t good enough. We really have to define it for ourselves.

        On a side note. Have you boys read “switch” great read with regards to making change.

        Reply
        • Hi Justin!

          Switch … I have heard about it but haven’t read it (yet). Anyway, just added to my Amazon Wishlist :)

          Cheers,
          Timo

          Reply
  2. For me, it’s about “who I want to be.” Like you said, have the end goal or picture in mind always. When I know who I want to be, I’m far less likely to completely flip over to Mr. Hyde on the weekends when i’ve worked so hard on Dr. Jekyll.

    This also allows for a relaxation of strictness on the weekends because I realize that it’s not as much about the rigid rules as it is about just being my ideal self. The self that can also relax!

    Reply
    • Hi Carmelo!

      That’s a great insight as well: “who I want to be”.

      I think whenever you are slipping out of your habits, you should ask yourself this question, be honest and see if the answer reflects to your current actions.

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  3. I do like to bend the rules a little bit on the weekend, but to keep it in check I’ve come up with 2 solutions.

    1. I’ve limited it to one of my weekend days. That day could change depending on what is going on in my life.

    2. I remind myself several times of my overall goals so that if I get off track too far I’ll feel guilty.

    Seems to work for me.
    DSG
    ZenPresence.com

    Reply
    • Hi!

      Sure, some flexibility can be good for your habits too.

      I have noticed that even during the weekends, knowing my overall goals helps me to keep things flexible and in moderation – and not slipping too much out of my preferred path.

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  4. I think the best way is, like you said, to stick to you weekdays routine. We’re all creature of habits and the more we practice good habits, the more rewards we will get, whether is good eating habits, exercise, sleep, work and play.
    I really enjoy getting up extra early on the weekends and have the whole morning to myself, the stillness, the sunrise, running and breakfast before anyone even considers stretching out of bed!
    Thanks for a great post!
    Paula

    Reply
    • Hi Paula!

      Sure, the more we practice the good habits, the better they’ll stick. Eventually when you step out of your typical good weekday path, you’ll feel weird for doing things otherwise on some other days.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  5. Technically, something is not truly a “habit” if the thing can be sidelined by weekends, vacations and things like that. If that happens, you are merely on the journey to making the thing, whatever it is, into a habit. But great tips to do that end!!

    Reply
    • Hi Cheryl!

      I guess it takes a while until you can execute the habit – no matter what the day is.

      That’s why it’s important create a structure that supports the habit – even during the weekends too.

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
    • I’m actually going to disagree with that. Habits loops can have any number of different triggers, which include anything from time of day, preceding actions, or an alarm, to emotions, people, and environmental conditions.

      As Timo points out, the weekend has a different structure. Maybe the structure of you day is your trigger for eating healthy… Or maybe the emotions associated with the anticipation of having to go to work is your trigger for getting up early.

      So I think it’s entirely consistent with our understanding of habits that you could have one set of behaviors that are triggered during the week, and another set that are triggered on the weekend.

      Timo, definitely sympathize with you here, especially on the sleep. I think pretty much everyone on earth experiences the “sleepless Sunday, groggy Monday” syndrome because our pattern shifts over the weekend.

      Thanks!

      Reply
      • Hi Tom!

        Thank you for your comments!

        Yes, there are a lot of different variables when it comes to habit loops and their triggers.

        What I realized was that during the weekdays, with a certain schedule, it was easier to keep up the good habits, whereas during the weekend the schedule (structure) was different (sleeping late). This made me to slip away from my good weekday habits.

        Cheers,
        Timo

        Reply
  6. Timo,
    This is an awesome post and well thought out. I have struggled with this exact same thing. I would be real productive Monday thru Friday but Saturday would just kill me.

    I sat back and thought about it. I realized it was because of 2 things:
    1. A lack of consistent structure and
    2. Waking up later.

    Really number 2 is just a consequence of number 1.

    So although Saturday is still different I now take a look at my planner on Fridays and create a plan for Saturday. I get up early (but not as early).

    I love how you brought it back to remembering our goals and deeper purpose. That is a huge driving force for me. Sometimes I’ll think “Do I want to work on Saturdays?” But then I’ll follow that up with “Do I want to impact lives, do great things, and make a difference in this world?” Because the answer to the 2nd question is yes, then then answer to the first question automatically becomes yes as well.

    Reply
    • Hi Izzy!

      Thank you :)

      You know, there has to be a strong driving force for making solid structures for the weekend too. What I mean by that is that for me, building my online business (on the top of my day job) is my top priorities right now and it makes me to get up early (for e.g., I woke up at 05.20 AM, even if it’s Saturday).

      I know that if I wake up late during the weekends, I’m going to lose the time window that is perfect for the business building part. When the rest of the family wakes up, it’s going to be harder to focus on my work and get stuff done.

      And finally, when I wake up early, I also tend to follow the other good habits without any effort (eating healthy snacks, brushing my teeth …)

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  7. It is a good piece. Thanks a lot. I shall give it a try.

    Reply
    • Hi Edufiey!

      Cool, let me know how it works out for you!

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  8. Hey Timo, you’re absolutely right. Alot of people take vacations and ruin all the hard work they put in. I’ve had so many people tell me that Sunday is their “Cheat Day” and that they work really hard during the rest of the week. What they don’t seem to realize is they are absolutely ruining the work they did during the week. Progress comes so much faster if you’re not backtracking on the weekends. Thanks for the great post I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Reply
    • Hi Bloom!

      Thank you for your comments!

      Yep, the cheat days seems to be very common. Although you should be flexible (and not too hard on yourself), too much cheating can cause back to bad habits – something that you are trying to strive away from.

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  9. NICE!!! just what i needed.hehe ;) I just realized that I’m returning to my old habits and I need to return to my routine. thank you!!! ^_^

    Reply
    • Hi Faye!

      Thank you :)

      Great to hear I was able to be helpful!

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  10. Great tactics for staying on track, Timo! It really made me think about my sleeping, and adding some fine tuning. I get up at 4:00AM during the week, which leaves me a couple hours to read and arrange my day before I exercise. On the weekends, though, I let myself get up whenever I like. For the most part, I still get up around 4:00, or maybe 4:30, but your post helped me realize that my weekend days always feel behind if I don’t get up at 4:00. So I’m going to start getting up at 4:00 every day. It already makes me feel like I’ve got a little better handle on life. Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Hi Mike!

    4.00 AM – Wow!

    And I thought I was the early riser (waking around 05 – 05.15 AM every day) :)

    Anyway, great to hear I was able to be helpful :)

    Cheers,
    Timo

    Reply
  12. i agree
    when we get used to a certain habit then break it we lose our momentum
    i think we must not take any breaks from good habits under all costs

    Reply
    • Hi Farouk!

      Yes, I see the importance now too.

      Thing’s weren’t always like this though. However, it’s easier to keep following the good habits when I have a same structure for each and every day.

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  13. I admit, this describes me perfectly. I do let go on the weekends. And your exactly right, I do believe that I deserve it because I’ve worked hard all week. Thank goodness it never carries over into Monday and I don’t want it to either.

    So I’ll be rewriting and visualizing my desired outcomes on the weekend too after reading all the helpful and insightful information here. Because that’s what I do all week long and it keeps me on track.

    Thanks for the great post Timo!

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle!

      Thank you for your comments :)

      Like I mentioned, having the same structure for the weekends too helps me to “standardize it”, meaning that it’s easier to keep up with my good habits then too.

      Let me know how your rewriting and visualizing went – did it help you to unify the weekends with your weekdays?

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  14. Thank you for the timely post. It has pinpointed why I have been lackluster in my approach to my weekends somewhat, and it has inhibited my attainment of my goals. Fine tuning my weekend habits to mirror my weekend ones are going to be crucial in my success from here on in. It’s going to require some review and restructuring to make my environment meet up with the week day schedule. It will require me to change my mind on some current habits and institute some new tools and principles. Thanks again for the article it was definitely needed for me and will be applied.

    Reply
    • Hi Black Diamond!

      Thank you for your comments!

      Sure, when you align you weekend structure to be similar with weekday ones, the habits are going to stick easier (at least this happened to me).

      Cheers,
      Timo

      Reply
  15. I actually don’t see what’s so bad about “only” having good habits 80% of the time. 80% sounds pretty good to me.
    I have to get up at 6:20 every weekday and it kills me. If I thought I had to do it at the weekends as well I’d lose the will to live.
    Ditto alcohol, I try not to drink Sunday to Thursday night, but I really look forwards to a glass or two of beer or wine on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s my treat and I’ve earned it. And I DON’T think it undoes all the benefits of not drinking on weekday nights.

    Reply

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