Five Ingredients in a Restful Day Off

Chris —  May 23, 2013

“Taking a day off” sounds so common sense that it doesn’t deserve a “how-to”. But, for many people, this is harder than it sounds. American culture is obsessed with productivity. We’ve flooded our lives with devices that are supposed to make our lives simpler, but often only serve to make it easier to work.

If we were really honest, we might even admit that we don’t like taking time off. We feel guilty for being unproductive. We worry about missing something. Or we have just forgotten how to relax.


The ancient Hebrews believed that the world was created with with a seven-day rhythm: six day of work, and one day of rest. They enshrined this concept in a practice of communal rest called The Sabbath, the inspiration to our modern day weekend. This process is still valid today. Try these five steps to set yourself up for a true mini-vacation.

1. Recognize that you need a day off.

The biggest hurdle between you and a great day off is admitting you need a day off. The truth is, no biological creature is constantly active. Trees blossom in the spring, but look “unproductive” in the winter. Bears hibernate. Farm land requires occasional seasons to lay fallow. The same is true for human beings.

The truth is, you’re only human. You need a day off.

2. Get your work done.

Taking a day off is difficult because there is often too much to do. If you can get away from work, there are still chores and children’s activities.

Day’s off don’t just happen, they require six days of planning. You have to organize your schedule so that no tasks sneak up on your day off. Since I work my office job Monday-Friday, this means that I have to complete all of the other little activities that life requires throughout the week. I take my day off on Sundays. Here’s a few of the things I have to finish before the end of the day on Saturday:

  • Grad School Work
  • Blogging
  • Chores like laundry and lawn care
  • Grocery-shopping and food preparation

If I do this well, I’ll have nothing to do on Sunday.

3. Plan to do something life-giving.

Unless you’re a Buddhist monk or Carmelite nun, you probably won’t spend your entire day doing nothing. Days off are an opportunity to do things you love, enjoy a hobby, visit somewhere new or invest in friendships. Days off should be filled with life-giving activities that build energy within you.

Executing this will require some work. Have books on your shelf waiting to read. Create a list of swimming holes or restaurants you want to visit. Plan a brunch or a meet up friends you haven’t seen in awhile. Then write it on your schedule. If it’s not on your schedule, and you don’t have what you need. Again, the key is to have nothing in your way to keep you from resting, even planning.

4. Disconnect.

Once upon a time, there was a myth that technology would make our lives simpler. Instead, it’s given us new ways to work anywhere, all the time. In order to take a day off, you’re going to have to make sure that you are disconnected from the things all of the little leashes in your life. This means no email, and likely, no social media either. If this is hard for you, set up an email auto-responders telling people that you’ll write them back after your day off. You can use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to keep your social media properties active. You might even let your battery die, or leave your laptop at the office.

5.  Don’t Rest Alone.

Perhaps the most important, and the most difficult thing about taking a day off, is that you can’t do it alone. It’s going to affect the lives of your family, co-workers, neighbors and church. Rather than simply tell them to leave you alone, invite them to join you. Host a day off potluck brunch where people are required to bring musical instruments and board games. Help your spouse and children plan their weeks, so that you all can have the same day off. Start a babysitting co-op that will make it easier to spend a day with out the kids. Plan a movie night. Not only are these activities more fun with others, but you are able to help them build rest-time into their lives as well.

How do you take a day off?

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