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, people forget how impactful a well-used personal day off can 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 physical or mental 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.
Try Waking Up Around The Same Time
As amazing as it sounds to sleep in on your day off, try to refrain! I’m sure you know how awful it is to wake up late, rush out the door to a doc appointment or a coffee date without having the chance to eat breakfast or shower. That kind of hectic morning is likely to make you feel off (as well as grubby and hungry!) all day. Select a time that allows you to get to work or school on time during the week and then getting up at the same time on the weekend and/or your days off.
By having a consistent wake up time, you’ll be able to plan your day accurately. Rather than saying, ‘I’ll be there if I wake up on time,’ you’ll be able to confidently say, ‘I’ll definitely make it at 10 AM because I know that I’ll be finished with my morning routine by then.’
You just need to set your alarm for a certain time every day, even on weekends. If you stay out late on a Saturday night, you should still wake up at your designated time on Sunday morning. Doing this takes a lot of persistence and self-discipline, but if I can do this, you can definitely do this! Plus, you can always take a 20-minute power nap later on in the day if you’re especially tired.
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.
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 relax, you might wanna go for a morning walk, spend an afternoon at the museum, or plan for dinner at your favorite restaurant. Or all of the above!
You 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.
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 our work. On that note, it’s possible to spend an entire day watching Netflix if that’s the time we give ourselves to do so.
Fortunately, with this knowledge, you can divide a 24-hour personal day into 3-4 parts, each scheduled with light reminders to switch in 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. The theory of consumption (i.e. watching shows, listening to podcasts, shopping), and creating (i.e. 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.
Change Your Environment & Your Habits
Often, personal days are scheduled because we need time away from our routine to re-calibrate, 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 just on way to radically change your environment.
Whether this means taking your work or play to a new area or exploring your neighborhood, new environments 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 the layout can result in big improvements. Spend your personal day away in a new environment to bring renewed energy and ideas into your space.
Plan Your Personal Time
Finally, use your time away from the office to make 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 doc.
Taking this step can ensure that your 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!
How do you plan on spending your next personal day? What’s your favorite ways to spend your day off?