Have you ever had a day off from work and just felt like it was wasted? You’re so exhausted from the day before that you wake up at noon, don’t eat breakfast until 1 pm, sit down on the couch, blink your eyes, and it’s 7 pm and time for dinner. Where did the time go?

Well even if you haven’t felt this way, I have enough times for both of us. There is this tricky balance between wanting to relax and enjoy your days off and finding productive things to do on your day off. With this article, I hope to help you find that balance, so the next time you’re wondering what to do on a day off, you’ll know how to be productive on your day off and still enjoy it. 

A young woman is being productive at home with her phone and laptop while it is her day off from work

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What to Do on a Day Off or a Week Off

In my mind, a day off is like gold—rare, precious, and waiting to be cherished. As a young professional, summer vacation and winter break are gone, and my current vacation balance doesn’t reflect near that amount. For that reason, I go into my time off wondering how to be productive on my day off.

Looking back on my tenure at the corporate machine, I have a couple of tips for how to be productive on your day off and use your time off to the max. As you go through the tips and tricks below, keep this in mind.

Finding the right combination of productive and fun is what will make your day shine.

How do I start my week off from work?

If you have a week off from work, I suggest starting the first day by taking it easy. This is the time when you can sleep in until noon and have absolutely no plans, chores, or to-do lists. 

At the same time, you will want to make the most of your week off from work. So, on your first day off, jot down a list of things you’d like to get done this week. Some examples might be running errands, working on hobbies, seeing friends and family, or anything that would make this week off from work enjoyable and productive.

After that, put your items in two columns under “Enjoyable” and “Productive,” understanding that some items might fall into both categories. Next, I like to take a my planner or a planning pad like this one from Erin Condren and spread the activities throughout the week. 

As you do this, keep in mind that you’re looking for balance! Make sure your “Enjoyable: Productive” list is 50:50 or no more than a 60:40 split.

Yes, you can enjoy a week off and still be productive. 

Mindset for a Day Off from Work

Before you do that though, you’ve got to step away from work. And I’m the first to admit that it’s not easy. I am an A-class ruminator, meaning when my head hits the pillow at night, my mind is racing. I’m thinking about everything I did today, everything waiting for me tomorrow, and putting together an action plan for all my tasks. 

It’s super hard to shut my brain off, especially when it comes to work, and that’s understandable. Work takes up a significant portion of our lives and our time, so it’s natural that we’re still pondering work items while trying to relax on a day off. Hopefully some of these tips will get work off of your mind long enough for you to enjoy your day off.

How do I stop thinking about Work?

The first solution is to let your team know ahead of time that you’ll be out of the office and make plans to cover your work. Then set your out of office notice with an alternative contact. These two steps, while they may seem trivial, actually give you a peace of mind about stepping away from your laptop because you know that someone else will be able to handle anything urgent. Remember:

Everything else can wait until you get back!

The next thing to do is to turn off your laptop. Don’t just put it to sleep. Don’t just log off. Turn it off! Silence your company phone, too, so you don’t hear notifications. If you really need to check your phone during your week off, it will be on your watch, not determined by a little chime on the phone.

What has also helped me to stop thinking about work is writing down the thoughts that do come to mind as soon as I think of them. If I lay in bed and think about a report I need to run when I get back to the office, I will scribble it down. When I’m cooking dinner and have an idea to do a recipe swap as a team engagement activity, I write it on a post it and stick it on my laptop.

The beauty of capturing these thoughts is that you won’t be tempted to ruminate on them, aka think about them over and over again. Once it’s written down, it’s out of your head and on paper. Now you can get back to enjoying your day off.

Related: Career Woman Quotes about Jobs and Life

How to Be Productive on Your Day / Week Off

For me, I want to learn how to be productive on my day off to make my other days working less stressfuland lighten the load. But being productive doesn’t mean you have to do huge things to consider the day off a success. Even completing some small to-do’s have a big impact on your week. 

In the next section, I’ve included some easy things you can do to channel that productivity for your time off. Some of the items in my other article 8 Easy Ways to Stay Productive at Work may fit the bill, too.

How can I be productive on days off?

First, if you want to be productive on days off, you have to get up at a reasonable hour. This doesn’t mean waking up at the crack of dawn like you might for work, but avoid sleeping in until the afternoon. 

There’s no hard and fast rule, but I try to wake up 1 hour later than I normally would going to work, but no later than 2 hours. (This will help you when you have to get back into your work routine).

Secondly, have a plan. If you’ve been following KJL Co. for some time now, you’ll know that I am a fan of plans and goals. Plans and goals give you direction and guidance. Some people find them restricting, but that’s only if you use them strictly. I’m just looking for a “blueprint.”

“Blueprint-level” plans help you visualize what you need to get done and organize how you’re going to get it done. If on your day off you need to go to three grocery stores and a clothing boutique, wouldn’t it make sense to plan out your route so you don’t have to backtrack? 

Having a loose plan for your day off often allows you to be the most productive.

Productive Things to Do On Your Day Off

But maybe you’re just used to sleeping until 1 pm on your days off and can’t imagine being productive. Girl, I’ve been there.

But at the same time, I’ve also been the girl who came home after a long day of work and didn’t want to do anything except eat and sleep. The reality though is that in the adulting struggle, there is more we need to do than eat, work, and sleep. 

So, I’ve found that by picking a few productive things to do on my day off can release some stress and tension for the rest of the week. 

Productive Things to do on Your Day off:

  • Write a budget / Adjust your budget
  • Pay your bills
  • Make a grocery list and go shopping
  • Go to a specialty grocery store
  • Pick up Medicine / Prescriptions
  • Return / Exchange merchandise (or library books)
  • Post Office Run – Need stamps?
  • Meal Prep / Cook Meals for later in the week
  • Plan your next vacation
  • Clean out Your Closet
  • Do Household Chores (Dusting, clean bathroom, sweeping, vacuum, etc.)
  • Tend to your garden (or start one!)
  • Schedule future doctor’s appointments
  • Research a new apartment / home (esp. if it’s close to lease renewal time)
  • Chart your next career move, research grad schools, network, find a mentor
  • Spend extra time with God, praying, reading the Bible
  • Everything you’ve been procrastinating on (be honest…)

While some of these items require more planning, others are perfect if you’re wondering what to do on an unexpected day off. On the other hand, you may also be looking for fun things to do on a day off.

Time off work isn’t just for being productive, though productivity is a good thing! The only thing we can never get more of is time, so it makes sense that we want to use that time wisely. At the same time, as I mentioned in my pieces of advice to transform your twenties, life is for living!

Enjoy Your Days Off

During the interview for my very first job, the hiring manager told me something I’ll never forget. 

“We work to live. We don’t live to work.”

In other words, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is so important, remembering that life is a gift from our Heavenly Father. We should enjoy it! Our work is not meant to consume us, taking up so much space that we don’t have room for anything else. 

Similarly, days off are meant to be enjoyed. If we were in work mode and productive mode all of the time, we would be exhausted and burned out. So don’t be afraid to enjoy your days off, too.

Related: Valuable Career Advice for Young Professionals

How do I enjoy Time Off Work?

To enjoy time off work, you have to put work out of your mind. Use the tips above to help you stop thinking about work: arrange for a team member to cover work while you’re away, shut off your laptop, turn off your work phone notifications, write down the work things that come to mind to get them out of your head.

Once you’ve stopped thinking about work, you can enjoy your time off work by doing the things you love. If there are things you wish you had more time to do during the week, like spending time on hobbies or seeing friends, make plans to do that during your time off work. 

Another key to enjoying time off of work is too not overbook yourself. If you’re overly ambitious and plan a ton of things to do on your day off, you can end up exhausting yourself. Too often, we get caught up in the lie that we have to be busy all the time. I say no more. 

You can enjoy time off work by doing some fun things, some productive things, and doing nothing except resting and relaxing.

Beautiful terrace or balcony with small table, laptop and flowers

Fun Things to Do on a Day Off

Though I started with how to be productive on your day off, how to have fun is just as important! On your list of things to do on your day off, here are some fun things to add. 

  • Be a local tourist – explore your local area as if you were a tourist
  • If you have a week off, go on a vacation
  • Host a dinner party
  • Have coffee with a friend
  • Visit a relative
  • Mini Road Trip! Go see a friend who lives far from you (but driving distance)
  • Have lunch with family
  • Read a book / magazine
  • Listen to your favorite podcasts
  • Go on a scenic drive
  • Scrapbook / Organize photo albums
  • Go shopping (in person and online)
  • Pick up your old hobby / spend time doing the hobbies you don’t have time for during the work week
  • Try something new – book a cooking class or a one day dance class, start a garden
  • Be artsy – go to a paint night, make your own pottery, etc.

But what if I want to have fun more…economically?

What can I do with a week off and no money?

My instinct for what to do with a week off is to go on a vacation—the mountains, the beach, a national park, or a new city. But we don’t always have the luxury of jetting off to the next destination on our bucket list. 

For those days, here are some fun things you can do with a week off and no money.

  • Go on a walk / Spend time in the park
  • Do a hike / follow a river trail
  • Visit a relative
  • Spend time with family – play board games or watch a movie
  • Read a book / magazine – Make a library trip!
  • Listen to your favorite podcasts
  • Watch your favorite movie / have a movie marathon
  • Spend time on your favorite hobbies
  • Bake your favorite dessert (you have to eat anyway, so not spending extra money here)
  • Recreate old recipes you enjoyed as a child (see note above)
  • Relax – take some time for yourself with these self-care activities

Have a Week off and Nothing to Do?

I hope if this question is running through your head, it is not a complaint, LOL. Because sometimes I wish this was my scenario. Other times, I have a week off and nothing to do, and I can’t sit still either!

It is so tempting to be busy all of the time, but we don’t have to be nor is it what God demands from us. God rested on the seventh day after creating the world (Genesis 1-2), and He commands us to rest, too, and to rest in Him. 

We have to become comfortable with resting and sitting still. 

If you have a week off and nothing to do, celebrate. Take time to rest and rejuvenate. Spend time caring for yourself, doing all the activities and hobbies you enjoy, and renewing your spirit. Find a week-long Bible study to do or just commit to reading a book of the Bible during the week. 

Instead of trying to pack in a bunch of productive things to do on your day off, recognize that you need rest. That doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. And when you’re back at work, you’ll come back stronger! 

How to Spend a Day off From Work

If you’re still wondering what to do on a day off from work, know that your question has many different answers, but none of them are wrong. The only answer that matters is the one that’s right for you. 

Usually a healthy mix of productive things to do and fun things to do will make sure you enjoy your days off. But what’s on that list of things to do on a day off is up to you. 

Remember that days off are like gold—rare, precious, and needing to be cherished.

My Perfect Day off: Be Productive & Enjoy It

Whether there is indeed a definition of or method to achieve a perfect day off, I’ll never know. But for me, a perfect day off is a day of rest from the hustle and bustle of work and adulting. I take a step back, do a bit of nothing, enjoy doing my hobbies, and check off a few productive adulting things. 

It’s as simple as that, whether you have productive things to do on your day off or fun things to do on your day off or both. Enjoy the day. Now, how do you get back into the swing of things at work? That’s a whole other story. Next time, guys, next time.

How do you make your days off productive?

Leave me a comment below!

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