The Big Idea
Take a day off with intention
Questions I Answer
- How do I take time off and not feel guilty?
- What can I do to be productive on day off?
- How can I live with intention?
- How can I take a mental health day?
Actions to Take
- Take a day off and plan your day around how you want to feel at the end of it. Do yourself a little favor and invest in you.
Key Topics in the Show
Learning how to take a day off without feeling guilty
Setting intentions for your day off
Being mindful of your feelings to help you design your day
Focusing on which buckets you want to fill up
10 suggestions for how to spend a day off guilt-free and to feel really good about it
Resources and Links
- Check out my TanyaTV episode, How To Prepare For A Family Vacation With Less Stress
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 130, How to Get the most out of a Day Off and Not Feel Guilty. That’s the kicker, right? I mean, we can take a day off, but then a lot of times we feel bad about it. We feel like we don’t have a right to taking that time for ourselves. So, today’s episode is all about taking that time for yourself and feeling really good about it.
And actually, today is the last episode of our season on bending time. It’s hard to believe, right? We’ve been discussing all season long how to stretch out our time and allow ourselves to really enjoy it instead of allowing it to just rush right by. Yes, time is linear, but it also has the ability to bend and stretch, and that’s what we’ve been working on over the last 13 episodes.
Last week, we talked about the importance of taking vacations for both our mental and our physical health. As we discussed, our minds and our bodies really need to take breaks so that we can recharge. Vacations are really important to take advantage of. So today, I thought we could segue a little bit from last week’s episode and focus on smaller vacations, like taking a single day off or taking a personal day as opposed to a long, extended getaway like we discussed last week. And while definitely believe in the healing power and the benefits of long vacations, I also think there’s a lot of good that can come out of a single day off every now and then, you know, a little bit of a mental health day. And if you can schedule a day off between your longer vacations, that’s even better to give you a little pick-me-up between those longer breaks.
But, here’s the problem. People feel so guilty taking this time for themselves, One of the things I hear is they feel bad about taking this time even though it’s designated maybe in their contract that they can take a day off. We feel really guilty doing that, especially when it’s a personal day and maybe you’re wanting to just run around doing some personal errands and things maybe for your house or for your family. But really, if you think about it, these one-day vacations or these personal days are actually ideal because they give you a mini break or some sort of reprieve between those times that you can take a couple of days off to go on a little bit of a long weekend or a little mini vacation.
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In theory, they should feel less stressful because you’re only out of the office for a day, maybe two. So, there should be way less stress when it comes to figuring out who’s going to cover for you while you’re out than when you go away for a week or more. One day is no biggie, and the world will not shut down if you’re out of the office for 24 hours. I promise you it won’t. And guess what? If the world did shut down if you’re not there for a week or so, then you’re probably not going to go into work anyways, right? Obviously, I’m joking. But, we have to stop thinking that the world will stop spinning on its axis just because we haven’t gone into work, we haven’t checked in. Things will continue to run even without us there. Let’s learn to take a day off without feeling guilty.
So, how do we do that? Well, let’s start by talking about what not to do. The worst thing you can do with a perfectly good day off is waste it. My biggest advice is to have a plan for your day off, even if that plan is to simply run errands or schedule appointments. I think I hear the most disappointment from people who take a day off with the best of intentions in mind because then they end up not doing anything they’d planned, and they waste away their day in their PJs binge-watching TV or scrolling through social media. Then, they end up feeling a lot of regret, and remorse, and guilty because they didn’t feel they were productive, or they felt like they completely wasted their day off.
Look, lying in bed in your PJs until noon is totally fine if that’s what you want to do. I’m not saying you can’t plan some TV-watching or some social media time into your day off. Just don’t let those things become a suck hole that consumes your entire day because you can’t get your day back once it’s spent. Yeah, we can bend time, but we can’t go back and retrieve the time that’s already passed. That’s what we don’t want to do. We don’t want to waste our day. We want to feel really good about how we spend it.
Let’s talk about how we can make our day off feel really successful. And that word feel is important here. Because when it comes to thinking about how you want to spend your day off, you should consider your feelings. I know that might seem a little touchy-feely and a little silly, but if you think about how you want to feel at the end of your day off, that will actually help you decide how you’re going to fill your day in order to end your day with that feeling you really hope for, the feeling that you really want.
So, ask yourself, do you want to feel relaxed, productive, adventurous, inspired, creative? Doesn’t matter what you decide. What matters is that you consider that desired outcome and use that as your guide to help you decide what you want to do with your time off. So, for example, let’s say you want to have a day that leaves you feeling relaxed. Well, in that case, you might start your day with a morning walk or maybe a yoga class followed by a long, hot shower. Then, maybe you want to spend
some time visiting a bookstore or the public library picking up a new book to read before heading to the park to read that book. Then, maybe you meet a friend for a relaxing afternoon mani-pedi, or maybe you get a massage to work out some of your tired muscles, or you get an afternoon haircut with a relaxing scalp treatment. I don’t
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know. That sounds really good. I could go for a really relaxed feeling at the end of my day off. That sounds good.
But, maybe you want a different feeling at the end of your day. Maybe you want to have a day that feels successful, like you’re accomplishing some of those
<s that have been on your list for some time. That’s another great way to spend your day, finding some solid wins so these types of tasks don’t weigh you down. So, in this case, you might start your day with that same morning workout as the other scenario. But before you head out, maybe you throw in a load of laundry into the washing machine and you start the dishwasher. And when you come back, you do a few more chores around the house and you tackle some bills before tossing the clothes in the dryer, taking a quick shower. Maybe then you head out for some errands and a dentist or a doctor’s appointment. It’s a different kind of day in the end. But if your goal was to knock out some of these long-term items off your list to help you feel a little more successful, those activities will help you find happiness in your day.
I really believe it’s important to be mindful of your feelings to help you design your day. How do you want to feel at the end of the day? And then, work your way backward. By the way, you can pick more than one feeling. If you want to schedule your day to be relaxing and productive or productive and creative, it’s up to you. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Hey, it’s your day off, right?
Now, if you are looking for more than one goal or emotional outcome, you might want to break your day into blocks in order to schedule and tackle different things throughout your day. You can also think about those three buckets in life that I’m always talking about, home, personal, and work, and think about what you want to get done in each of those categories and schedule your blocks accordingly. Maybe you make a priority list for each of those buckets of the things you really would like to accomplish and then determine whether it’s really achievable to do all of that in your day off.
Remember, we only want to schedule what’s reasonable to accomplish in a day. That way we’re not upset at the end of the day. I can promise you this. No matter what emotion, what feeling you want to have at the end of the day off, I promise you it’s not that feeling of being unsatisfied or feeling like you didn’t do enough. Let’s be realistic with our planning.
So, let’s say you want to focus the day on personal and home buckets. So, if you block out your day, it might look something like this. Maybe you schedule an 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM block for appointments and errands. Then, maybe you carve out time from 10 until noon to go take care of some of your car or your home maintenance work, things like that getting done. Remember, if you’re bringing in your car for service, you could grab a book or your iPad, so you can spend that time waiting doing something you really want to do during that time, catching up on a show, reading a chapter of a book. Then, afterwards, you could plan a lunchtime where you meet a friend, you know, that friend that you’ve been saying, “We should meet for lunch,”
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over and over again 3,000 times. This is the perfect opportunity to make that happen. This is a good chance for you to reconnect. Then, maybe in the afternoon you could fill your time with other priorities related to your personal well-being. So, block it out. Some blocks are for personal, some are for home. It’s really up to you.
But, the key here is that when you have a plan, you can enjoy every minute of your day off guilt-free because you’ll feel like your day off is less wasted and more productive. And of course, when we say productive, we know it’s not about doing more, it’s doing what’s most important. That’s really what we want out of our day off. We want to feel like we spent it in a way that feels really good, right?
Now, sometimes I know it can be hard to think about what you want to do with your day off. I want to share with you 10 suggestions for how to spend a day off guilt free and to feel really good about your time off. But before I do this, I want to take a minute because this is the spot in the podcast where I normally have a sponsor, but today I want to do something a little bit different. I talked about this last week as well, and I got so many notes, and Instagram DMS, and some messages from so many of you saying how excited you are about the book, and I am, too. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about the release of my book, The Joy of Missing Out.
Because I’ve had so many questions about what’s coming out with it, what are we doing with it, how you can be a part of it, I really wanted to have a chance to let you know how you can get on the exclusive first-to-know list because there is a ton going on behind the scenes. There are so many extras that come with the book. We’ve been working away like crazy, so I’m really excited to share a lot of this with you. So, if you’re curious about the pre-order bonuses, the launch team, the book tour, any and all information book-related, I want to get you on the list. Just head to inkwellpress.com/jomo and sign up to be on the exclusive list to be the first to know about everything book-related. It’s going to be a big launch with so many exciting things I don’t want you to miss knowing about any of it. So just go to inkwellpress.com/jomo to get on that list.
Let’s get back to talking about our day off because I want to ask you this: Have you ever planned to go to dinner with somebody and they ask you, “Where do you want to go eat?” And then suddenly your mind goes blank, totally and completely blank. You can’t think of a single restaurant or even a place to eat. You feel a little put on the spot and your brain does this little mini panic where it just can’t decide anything. I hate that when it happens. I find that it happens sometimes too when we have a day off. Because the day is so wide open with possibilities we’re caught up in that paradox of choice, too many options, so we default to doing nothing or simply doing what we’ve always done. So, I wanted to give you 10 ideas of things to do on a day off. This will help you feel like you’re getting the most out of your day.
Now, obviously, you don’t have to do all 10. You don’t have to do any of them if you don’t want to. Think about that emotion. Think about that feeling you want at the end of your day and then decide which ones of these 10 ideas really fit that idea. What will help you feel good and feel that emotion at the end of your day?
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The first one is to tackle some errands. There’s nothing wrong with taking your day off and knocking some things off your list. Instead of sleeping in too late, get up. Tackle some of those tasks that have been on your to-do list for quite some time. Nothing feels better when you conquer a task that’s been nagging at you. When you cross that off and get that dopamine hit, feels really good.
Suggestion number two, get moving. Again, it’s about not getting caught in your pajamas when the clock rolls around to noon, unless that’s what you want to do. Get up and get moving. Exercise can get your endorphins moving, and it can set a positive tone for your day. So, the sooner you get out of bed and get going, the better off you’ll be. Now, if you’re looking for a relaxing day off, this is not what you want to do necessarily. Maybe you do want to spend a good amount of time in your pajamas sipping a cup of coffee. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
Suggestion number three, unplug. Truly, this is the best way to enjoy your day off. Disconnect from work and unplug. I know it seems maybe impossible, but I can promise you it’s not. I unplug for an entire week every single year where i relax, and I do not think about work. I do not check in. I simply allow myself to unplug and enjoy myself. You can set up an auto reply on your email that you’ll be out of the office and
you’ll be returning emails the next day. And don’t forget to take a break on social media, too. Set aside that time that you would normally spend scrolling to give it to
something you really want to do that day. So, fully, completely unplug.
Suggestion number four, do something you love. Maybe you have a hobby that you really enjoy or something you’re really passionate about. Consider dedicating some time towards that. For example, you know I love reading, so that would be at the very top of my list. I really want to encourage you to spend your day doing the things that you enjoy. Even if you have a day doing errands, you can still make sure you’re making some time in that errand day to make it a little more fun.
Suggestion number five, try something new. Think about using your time off to book a class or to try something new that you’ve always wanted to do. It can feel really great to learn a new skill or try your hand at something you’ve always wanted to try out.
Suggestion number six, connect with friends or family. This is something a lot of us feel like we don’t have nearly enough time to do, so a day off is ideal. Spending time with friends or family who are important to you helps build those relationships and helps you connect with those people you care about. Think about using some time in your day off to meet maybe your spouse or significant other for lunch. Maybe do it as a little lunch date or make a manicure appointment with a good friend that you haven’t seen in a while. That way you can catch up and get your nails done. Win win in my book.
My seventh suggestion is to be creative. Getting creative can put you in a better mood. In fact, a study found that 81% of the crafters surveyed from 30 countries around the world felt happier after a crafting session. Crafting crosses all
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borders. They claimed that the more frequently they knitted, the happier and calmer they became. So, use your day to nurture your creativity and your happiness.
Suggestion number eight, indulge yourself. Make a day off seem special and rewarding by building in some little indulgences for yourself, whether you book a much-needed pedicure, or you run to the bookstore and grab a new book and maybe you want to spend some time snuggling on the couch all by yourself with your dog, whatever it is. Maybe it’s a bath. Do something you feel like you never have time for. What is it that you wish you could do that you think, “Gosh, that would be so nice, but I just don’t have time for that”? Do that on your day off. Doing a little something special for yourself can make your day off seem like a really special treat.
Suggestion number nine, schedule a long weekend away. If you schedule your day off near a weekend, there’s no reason you can’t take that one day off and make it into a mini vacay getaway, Think about the places nearby that you keep saying you need to get to. You can make that happen, almost like a staycation but just something a little ways away. Do something fun in town or go to a nearby town that’s been on your bucket list for a while. Enjoy yourself and schedule it so it stretches your time a little bit more.
And the tenth suggestion is plan future vacations or days off. Yeah, that sounds pretty nice. I love the anticipation of a vacation coming up. Taking the time to plan it out, to think about the activities I’m going to do, that’s a great way to spend your day off. Use that time to plan time away from work. Hey, why not, right?
Here’s the truth. Downtime is so important. It really is important, not just physically for our bodies, but also mentally as well. This is not something I just say and don’t really implement in my own life. It’s something I truly believe is important for all of us. I believe in the value of downtime so much that in my own business we have shorter work days on Fridays all year round, not just in the summer. You won’t find anyone on my team in the office past 3:00 PM on any given Friday,
Now, some people would argue I’m losing out on some valuable employee work time. But for me, I think the reverse is actually true. I believe my team works harder. They work better because they want to take advantage of our shorter Fridays. I think they‘re more productive with their days, so they can enjoy a bit of a longer weekend. I’m creating and embracing a work environment that wants my employees
to take breaks and to have time for themselves. So, for me, I don’t just talk about taking breaks and enjoying time off. I actively encourage it, not just in myself, but also in my employees and in my team.
Treally want to encourage you. I think it is so vital for us to take a day off every now and then if you can. Do yourself a little favor and invest in you. That’s really what we’ve talked about all season long. We’ve talked about this idea of bending time. It is about stretching it out. It is about bending it, so we can savor our time, so we can linger over the things that really feel good to us. That’s what I want you to think about as we close out this season. How can you be more intentional with your time? How can you make it so that time feels slow and savory in the times that you really want it?
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I don’t think any of us want to rush by our lives. We really want to be mindful for how we’re spending every single day.
I hope these episodes have helped you think a little bit differently about how time works and how we have more say in how we spend our days. We mistakenly believe that time marches on, but we do have the ability to slow time down, to take advantage of each and every moment, to stretch, and bend, and expand our time so we can really enjoy it. Let’s work to slow down time and just savor the moments with the people we love doing the activities we truly enjoy.
This has been such a fabulous season. I know I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you have too. My wish for you as we close out this season is you begin to bend time in your own life. Now, I have some great things in store for you for season 11. I’m really excited about our brand-new topic, and I can’t wait to share it with you next week. In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up to be on the exclusive lists to be the first in the know about The Joy of Missing Out. Just go to inkwellpress.com/jomo. All right. Until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes to Peak Productivity, simply go to
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