Quick question: When is your next day off?
A true day off, not a day where you’re just not working or doing something that day.
Regardless of whether you have full- or part-time obligations, I’m not talking about a day off from your schedule. I’m talking about a day off from being scheduled.
There are times when we have a day when we’re not doing our usual thing (whether that’s a job, school, caregiving, etc.) yet that day is full of doing the things we aren’t able to on the other days. And that’s the life part of life – appointments, services, errands, and even sick days.
Then there are the times when we schedule holidays and vacations and that comes with its own flurry of tasks and to-do’s. The excitement and enjoyment of the trip can also come with its own form of exhaustion. Have you ever found yourself saying, “I need a vacation from my vacation?”
Or when we do experience time off because of a job, school, or life transition, there’s often an anxious energy that buzzes around in our brain. It’s hard to enjoy the Now when we’re fixated on the Next.
In between the capital v Vacations and the days where we aren’t working is an opportunity for a siesta from your regular schedule.
The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that one day can make a big difference.
Time with no agenda offers an open playground to your brain. Not having to pay attention to a clock is a mental vacation, no travel required.
And the “day” here is really hours, meaning the 12-18 hour spread that we’re usually up-and-going. And there’s still the business of life in the day. So this nudge is to consciously collect a block of time where you can take a vacation without a suitcase. Where you can take yourself on a date. Go eat, explore, nap, or wander.
What would you do if you didn’t have to do?
Maybe this isn’t a realistic option right now. There are stretches where there is just a lot to be balanced. Another option for a little space is to have a day free from your devices. Episode 21 explored the concept of a brain break by taking a tech sabbatical. A digital detox has been shown to have tangible benefits like a boost to memory and creativity plus lower stress levels and improved sleep.
Science aside, there’s also a healthy philosophical nudge on the effort to enjoy the day.
“The average human lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short,” says Oliver Burkeman in his book called Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. He’s basing this math on the average lifespan being 80 years, hence 4,000 weeks. And his testament to what happens in that span and the shortness of it, is something that we feel as the years pass.
James Clear, created the book Atomic Habits, and he has a similar concept in what he says are the 25,000 mornings of our adult lives.
Both points make the case to make the most of the day, not simply make detailed plans to enjoy a day in the future. Episode 52 talked about this a bit as well in what we have versus what we own and even offered its own carpe-diem rendition of a poem.
I recently saw a post that said: 20 years from now, the only people who will remember that you worked late are your kids.
And whether it’s kids, loved ones, friends, or your own burned-out self, the hours take a toll-no matter how many weeks or mornings we have.
Twenty years ago, when I had my first child, I was anxious about how to balance my newly expanded family with my then growing career. When I was two months into my three-month maternity leave, my boss called to check in and chat. And then at one point she said: “So how long does this last?”
I was stunned and I made a joke and said: Maternity leave or the kid?
But underneath the joke, I felt pressure – or I created my own pressure. I ended up going back to work two weeks early to show that I was a team player. If I ran into that person on the street today, I doubt she would even remember me. And if she did she’s not going to remember those two weeks that I gave up.
I don’t often prescribe to the practice of ruminating in regret, but that is time I wish I hadn’t given away then. And it served as a gauntlet in the decades of parenting since. I certainly didn’t do all my time right as a parent and still don’t, but that early regret really informed my ongoing decisions.
The purpose of this episode isn’t to expand further on the math of time ticking by. It’s to encourage the idea of everyday days as a big gift in small doses.
Taking off for multiple days or weeks requires a lot of planning. But a day? Even most over achievers and people pleasers can admit that the world can turn without them for that long.
So back to you.
Where is there a day in the next few weeks that can be all yours? And, hey, sharing is caring so it can be spent with others when everyone is free to play.
For example, my partner and I recently spent a rainy Friday morning curled up under a blanket watching our favorite TV show. As parents of four teenagers and people who both run busy businesses, that special stretch of time was more luxurious than any fancy hotel.
Indulging doesn’t have to be expensive. Giving yourself permission to do what you want and not what you have to will be the only investment needed for those hours.
Sometimes the best way to take good care is to take good time with yourself. The other things will all be there waiting when you get back.
Plan ahead or spontaneously decide. Either way, it’s a good day to have a good day.