Is A Day Off Really That Necessary?

Updated: Apr 28

No. It isn’t.

Before you go, make sure to set that reminder. Not on your phone, not on your computer, and definitely not on that silly calendar on the wall that no one actually uses.

Set a reminder in your mind to ask yourself the questions, “Why do I work? Why do I get up at silly hours to run the same old routine, and rarely feel good about it?"

For most of us it’s simple, right? Kids to feed, bills to pay, parents to look after, etc.. etc.. So if that’s the case, why do you take a day off? Because it’s a legal requirement? Right. So not for yourself then? And sometimes we wonder why mental health is such a topic today.

I quite like this quote by Kyle Mckee, “Eventually, in high school, I got a job, and there went all of my free time”. I think that sums up the situation for quite a lot of us. [1]

I have one more question, what can a 'Day Off' really do for you? Just think about it slowly for a second, what does a day off do for you? Did it ever do anything for you? It sure does a lot for me. For me, one day off is as important as all of your days 'on’ combined. Here’s why:

1. It’s on my days off that I remember what my days on are all about.

2. On my days off I get to assess, change and improve my days 'on'

3. On my days off I get to catch up on all of the things that I wanted to do, rather than needed to do.

To elaborate on point one, when things get hard, intense and even stressful, it’s very very easy to forget what you’re doing it all for. After days and days of working, it just turns into mindless repetition. You naturally wake up in time to go to work even if you forgot to set the alarm. Wow, you were truly designed for that job. Nope. It’s the same with all of us.

What am I getting at here? It’s on my days off that I remind myself what my days on are all about. Luckily I’m just nineteen years old. I haven’t got kids, I haven’t got many bills, and I’m temporarily laid off work due to the pandemic. So why do I study an average of nine hours every day, not including my days off? Because I have a goal, I have an aim. It’s ambitious too, but I’m going to hit it. However, I forget that quite a lot. When I get sick of studying, I forget why I do it. It’s easy to just give in and say “I’ve had it”. Walk off. Slam the door. “It’s too hard”. Then regret it all after your tantrum is over.

That’s what I look like when I’ve forgotten why I started in the first place. I have no exams to sit, what’s the point? This is where the day off comes in, because it’s on this very special day of the week where I remind myself of something. I remind myself of that goal, and most importantly why I set it in the first place; what I’m trying to achieve. For me a day off is a chance to reflect. It’s a chance to collect: collect myself and collect my mind. Usually, I’m then ready to go for another six days. You might be thinking that’s B.S, but for me that’s really the case. For me, that’s really how it works. Don’t judge it, try it. Then form a valid opinion. It’s only valid once you’ve tried it and experienced it for yourself.

Elaborating on point two: on my days off I get to plan; I get to improve; and change accordingly. I get to see ahead, adapt my plans, habits and routine for the week I’ll be facing. About a month ago, I had a day off. I said to myself several days earlier that I had to assess my study strategy and figure out if it’s failing at all, and if so, where it can improve. My study wasn’t failing me, it was better than it’s ever been before. However, I figured out how it could be better. Do you recall the phrase “If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it”? My study wasn’t broken, and I didn’t try to fix it. However, I improved it, and more so than I thought would be the case. This was done on my day off, and could only be done then because it took about four hours of research, reading and thought. It took hours of comparing what is proven, against what I’m doing. Then I read peoples personal reviews and how they adapted the techniques. The remaining hours were spent adapting what I’ve just learned to my own study style, and daily routines.

I’m telling you this because this is the power of a day off. Just one day off changed my week, and my following weeks - it’s changed the entire way I study. That’s big for someone like me. I am aware though, that for many people this isn’t what they want a day off to look like. Fundamentally your day off should look like what you want it to look like. Otherwise why call it a day off? If you want your day off to look like watching TV. Do that. Write songs, sing songs, paint, write a short story, long story, poem, or cook. Whatever you want to do. But you must want to do it. Watch that YouTube video (although be careful not to get sucked in), read that article. If it looks like cleaning the house, do that. If it looks like reading books, well definitely do that one.

What if you’re a person that has to clean the house on your day off, simply because no one else will do it and it’s a mess? From my experience, I often don’t like spending my day off cleaning (sometimes it does bring me gratitude though) and so I try and fit just half an hour a day to keep the place consistently clean. You be surprised how far just half an hour can go – I certainly was. Therefore, you can limit how much of your day off is spent cleaning.

Those are all of the amazing ways I often spend my days off. However there have been a few things that haven’t worked. From my experience, this is how you shouldn’t spend your day off:

1. Sleep in.

2. Break your personal rules

3. Break your diet habits

4. Upset the bedtime routine (and if you haven’t got one, well you better look into one).

On the first point, I don’t usually like sleeping in. Sleeping in kills my day – I’m a walking zombie all day long. A 'sleep-in' offers me absolutely nothing. On point two, I used to always break my personal rules (like not watching a certain amount of YouTube videos, TV series, etc..) on my days off. But then, I would always find myself breaking them on my days on too. So it’s best to just avoid doing that altogether – that means no rule exceptions.

On the third point; don’t make exceptions to your diet either. Why? Because you’ll literally be binning everything you’ve accomplished all week long. That’s just the horrid fact. It’s always, always harder to go back to your diet the next day (there are actually full research papers on this). In my opinion, it’s just not worth it, not physically, not mentally. To put points two and three in a nutshell, do not break your good habits on the days off – your just creating a safe path for the bad habits to step back in.

On point four, you need to read 'Why We Sleep' by Matthew Walker [3] if you currently don’t have a bedtime routine. If you do, do not ruin it on your days off. Bedtime routines are infinitely precious, and can’t be played around with. They are not wax, they can’t be molded. It takes me an average of a week and a bit to get my bedtime routine back in order when I stupidly ruined it. It’s just not worth it – ever.

That’s about all I have to say on this topic. However, I have one more point. I have a nasty habit of setting thoughts aside during the week. When I am spending nine hours or more a day studying and working, everything tends to get pushed to one side, including mental thoughts I have to attend to. What I usually do is write them down and attend to them when I have a second – usually during lunch or something. My days off can be really good for this too. Some thoughts require a lot more time to assess, and this is when I get to it. For me, this is probably the most important reason for a day off – uncluttering your mind.

To finish with a quote for artists and those who praise creativity; “As writers, designers, entrepreneurs, and creatives, it’s incumbent on us to celebrate the act of creation by not making”. [2]

Jack, Interconnected.





Ted Talks: Power Of Time Off – Stefan Sagmeister


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