4 Ways Productive People Make The Most of Their Days Off

The Ways Every Productive Person Makes Their Day Off Count
by Joy Lin
Photos Diana Zapata | May 30, 2016
Setting aside time to rest and reflect is crucial for long-term success in work and life. Even the busiest career women can use these tips to carve out much-needed and well-deserved personal time.
A personal day is a rare day for many young professionals. While many strive to increase productivity, networking skills, and job performance in their careers, it is often forgotten how impactful a well-used personal day off can also be.
Only when the deadlines, events, and social obligations become too exhausting, does the personal day finally get added to the calendar—and that might be too late. Instead of waiting until you need to reset any mental and physical burnout, take a personal day soon, and pay attention to the ways you can make the most out of this special day. 

Try one of these four tips to maximize your personal day off and re-emerge back at work with a renewed mindset. 

1. IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL FEELING

Business and life coach, Danielle LaPorte, introduces a new way of thinking about goals, saying: “You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling.” In other words, goals are intrinsically motivated by the feelings we get when we achieve them, rather than by the actual goal itself. That feeling is unique to you, and your values or needs.
Goals are intrinsically motivated by the feelings we get when we achieve them, rather than by the actual goal itself.
At the start of your personal day, identify the feelings you want to experience by the end. Do you want to feel productive, relaxed, inspired, creative, or adventurous?

When you capture a clear idea of the feeling you are creating, the plans and the choices you make help pave your way towards that goal. For example, if the goal feeling is to be relaxed, you might go for a morning run, spend an afternoon at the museum, or plan for dinner at your favorite restaurant—or all of the above!

Your goal feeling can also help you determine whether or not you should spend the day solo or with others. No matter what tasks you want to accomplish or enjoy, this goal feeling can help eliminate unaligned activities or people, and prioritize other ideas.

2. SECTION YOUR DAY INTO DIFFERENT PARTS

Anyone familiar with Parkinson’s Law—“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”—will recognize that it applies to our free time, as well as to our work. On that note, it is possible to spend an entire day watching Netflix if that is the time we’ve given ourselves to do so.  

Fortunately, with this knowledge, a 24-hour personal day can be divided into 3-4 parts, each scheduled with light reminders to switch into a new activity. That way, the day doesn’t only become a series of naps and snacks (unless that is your goal, of course).

To take it a step further, pay attention to your consumption versus creation ratio. Though this topic is often discussed by artists or entrepreneurs for balancing getting things done with finding inspiration, the theory of consumption versus creation can apply to anyone taking a personal day, as well. To do this, try to keep an even ratio between consuming (e.g., watching shows, listening to podcasts, shopping), and creating (e.g., making dinner, writing, doing a DIY project). Maintaining a balanced consume versus create ratio can keep your brain agile, even while relaxing. You may even discover new ideas or solutions to improve your daily work and life.
Maintaining a balanced consume versus create ratio can keep your brain agile, even while relaxing.

3. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT & YOUR HABITS

Often, personal days are scheduled because we need time away from our routine to recalibrate, refresh, and get more clarity. 

It’s likely that you have identified habits or situations you want to improve in your daily life or work. B.J. Fogg, Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab, identified in his in-depth studies on habit-forming that, “There’s just one way to radically change your behavior: radically change your environment”. 

Whether this means taking your work or play to a new area or exploring your neighborhood, new environments are proven to help you think expansively, re-evaluate your habits, and retrain yourself to build new ones.

For example, maybe your office or home office has become a place filled with unhealthy habits. Visit a few different places to explore and take note of how you feel in each environment. See how you could replicate the environment in which you felt the most balanced, and brainstorm new triggers for healthier habits. 

Simple ideas like buying plants, keeping food in a separate room, or re-arranging your office layout can result in big improvements. Spend your personal day away in a new environment to bring renewed energy and ideas into your space.

4. PLAN YOUR PERSONAL TIME

Finally, use your time away from the office to bake more personal plans into your next week, month, or year. This is the perfect time to research flights for a trip abroad, reach out to a volunteer organization, or set up an appointment with your doctor. 

Taking this step can ensure that you prioritize yourself even as you head back to work, and new requests and obligations come in. 

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Setting aside time to rest and reflect is crucial for long-term success in work and life. And the benefits of incorporating these tips will expand into your normal routine!

When is your next personal day and how do you plan on spending it?