- Scott H Young - https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog -

Tips for Maximizing Your Days Off (and Prevent Working 24/7)

It’s easy to assume that once you get the workweek managed, the weekend will come naturally. That attitude makes it easy to waste your days off. It seems like just a few moments ago it was Friday and you were craving a day of rest, now the Monday is starting again and you feel just as tired and stressed as you left.

You should apply the same creative energies towards your days off as your days on the job. The difference can be between relaxing completely and wasting your weekend doing pointless tasks and activities just to fill the time.

How to Give Yourself a Day Off

This might sound great, but it begs the question, how do you actually give yourself a day off? It can be hard to do when the tasks are piling up and you feel working 24/7 is the only option. Compressing your time isn’t easy, but here are a few quick suggestions:

  1. Pay yourself first. Give yourself a day off before you budget your time elsewhere. Financial gurus are quick to point out that if you don’t allocate a certain part of your money to savings, it will be spent by default. The same is true of your time. Plan a day off and fix your schedule around it.
  2. Realize the importance of a day off. Day’s off aren’t frivolous. They are as critical as exercising, making to-do lists and staying productive. Rest is critical to having enough energy to work hard the following week.
  3. Compress your time. If you aren’t taking regular breaks, chances are your body is stealing back the energy in your own inefficiency. Taking a day off can give you the energy to push more tasks into your daily routine throughout the week.

Here are some suggestions to make your weekend as valuable as your workweek:

  1. Create a To-Don’t List. There are plenty of ways you can waste time on your day off with little or no enjoyment. Write down the things you won’t do. This could be a list that includes watching weekend television programming, chores or surfing the internet. If you only get mild enjoyment from the task, find something more entertaining to do with your time off.
  2. Look ahead. Fun doesn’t need to be spontaneous. While just going with the flow can be nice, planning out possible activities can increase the quality of your time off. Plan to do something with friends, set yourself up with a hobby or book you can work through.
  3. All-or-nothing. Either work entirely or rest entirely, doing half of each is a waste of time. If you need a day off, take a whole day off. Don’t let it be conquered by errands and other trivial time-wasters. That said, if you need to get things done, get everything done – don’t just whittle away on unimportant tasks.
  4. Give yourself permission to relax. Stress isn’t productive. Feeling you always need to be doing something is a good way to ensure nothing important gets accomplished. Slow down and allow yourself to relax when you need it.
  5. Engage yourself in something new. Don’t pick up more work, but you can spend your time trying something new. Practicing different skills or learning can engage your mind. That engagement can take you away from the problems and challenges of work.
  6. Spend time with family. Are you just living with these people under your roof or are you actually interacting with them? A friend of mine once said that, “quantity of time is quality time when it comes to your kids.” Have conversations instead of just events with each other.
  7. Be creative. Do something original and creative. Trying to be perfect or starting with too ambitious an idea will make your efforts more frustration than joy. Start simple and let it evolve as your ideas take form.
  8. Tape television. I’m not a big television viewer. I’ve probably seen a total of an hour or two of programming in the last three months, and none of that would have been alone. But, as I’m sure you can relate, there are a few shows I love to watch. I enjoy watching Star Trek, Law & Order or if there is an interesting documentary on. Taping the shows in advance means that you can watch something good instead of just zoning out to the second-rate programming that occupies weekend slots.
  9. Have a silence day. Try having an entire day where you don’t talk to anyone. I got a chance to talk with Michael Simmons a few months ago and he mentioned going on a trip where he was isolated and couldn’t talk for a week. I had a similar experience this summer where I went several days in near complete isolation. Although it is initially uncomfortable, after you adjust it can be relaxing and peaceful.
  10. Chores & Zen. I don’t recommend doing any chores you feel you need to do. That would only break my “all-or-nothing” rule. But working on a simple task can help you relax. Spending an hour preparing a perfect meal for yourself might be too indulgent during a busy workweek, but it can be the perfect activity to disengage on your day off.