Personal Development

37 Productive Things to Do on Your Day Off

Girl sitting and doing work on her laptop with guy sitting across from her scrolling on a tablet

As a culture, we are obsessed with productivity. 

We feel that our value comes from what we do not who we are. And although there’s a lot of movements (faith communities and mindfulness cheerleaders come to mind) that are trying to change our intrinsic need to do we still find ourselves looking for productive ways to spend our time especially… when we have a day off.

“Productive” means something different to you than it does to me.

Everyone’s day off looks a little bit different. In fact, I am one of those people who spends most of my day off running around getting things done. While for some people this may be a nightmare scenario, for me it is a great way to feel energized and productive. It helps me feel in complete control of how my day looks. It puts me in a relaxed mindset to know that I have taken something off the to-do list. 

For others resting is the only relaxing way to spend a day off. What is relaxing for others it is an activity that is enjoyable. 

It is not up to me to decide what is a good way to spend your day off. It helps to know all your options before you can decide on the “right” way to spend your day off.

So if you were wondering what you should do with your day off (especially as we head into spring and summer) let’s look at some different ways that you can be productive on your day off.

1. Read

Girl reading on floor in front of her couch

One of my favourite ways to spend some spare time is to read. I have a huge collection of books — paperback, hardback and Kindle books all hold a very special place in my heart. Some of my top favourites are The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Munn (which I referenced in this article), The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, The One Thing by Gary Keller, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Gallup, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink, and Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. My favourite novels are still all the Harry Potter books (they will always hold a special place in my heart). 

I love to read books that will help me learn, but others love to read books that will help them escape whether that is through fantasy or romance novels. No matter what genre you select, reading exercises and coordinates parts of your brain that other areas of life do not engage. Reading is an incredible way to strengthen your brain functioning, and also helps you with long-term problem-solving. An amazing way to spend a few hours on your day off.

2. Write

Girl writing in journal

Writing is another way to spend your time. Writing gives you the opportunity to express your feelings and thoughts in a way that’s different from normal. We’re so used to either holding them in our heads, or talking out loud, but we don’t often express things in writing. And there’s something powerful that happens when you read something back to yourself. Writing is a valuable way for you to spend some spare time. I will write articles for KNOWELJOBLE, write poems, write prayers, write blog posts, or write lists of ideas for the upcoming couple of months. Writing is a powerful and very valuable way to process your thoughts outside of your work hours.

3. Create/DIY

DIY Tools on a blueprint

Create something or do a DIY project. I have been bingeing YouTube videos about DIY projects and one of my favourite new Youtubers is Lone Fox and his DIY projects always seem incredibly doable. I’m hoping to tackle a rug for our office space in the near future! There’s something very satisfying about seeing something that you created being used in your home. Homemade items also make great gifts for friends or family. Crafting is a great use of time because you can create something for your home that you feel a personal connection to. Alternatively, you can create something for someone else that you have put love and attention into. A personalized gift is an incredibly caring gesture. 

4. Start a New Hobby

Girl taking photo of nature

Hobbies have increased over the last year with people spending more time at home due to COVID. We have been forced to entertain ourselves by learning new things and picking up new hobbies. Whether it’s baking, cooking, binging new TV shows (Bridgerton, anyone?), walking, or biking… any new hobby can be a valuable use of time. 

Sometimes I start a hobby and then realize shortly thereafter that I don’t enjoy it. It can be challenging if I’ve invested some money into starting the hobby. It’s important to consider the resale value of any of the equipment that you buy for the hobby, that way it won’t be too upsetting if you don’t want to continue with it. Some people have struggled to maintain some of their existing hobbies with COVID restrictions in place, so having a new hobby that you can do inside the home can be a great way to get yourself into a positive mindset despite the challenging situation.

5. Watch Ted Talks

Audience of a TED Talk

Ted Talks provide you with videos on almost any topic you can imagine. Pick something you are curious about and search the topic, or let Ted pick random videos that you think might be interesting to you. The calibre of speakers are incredible and Ted Talks have opened my eyes to a diverse range of perspectives that I would not have uncovered any other way. I have been known to spend a whole day bingeing on a variety of topics.

6. Make a Phone Call

Girl chatting on phone with a friend

A day off is a great time to reach out to your family members for a chat! Whether they are your closest family members, your best friend, or your distant relatives give them a call to let you know you are thinking of them. I have spent a lot of time away from my family (parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc.) so I know how important it is to proactively stay in touch, but I didn’t always make the time. Using my day off to make some phone calls was a great way to feel more connected to my family and to develop deeper relationships.

7. Meal Plan

Meal planning containers

Meal planning for the next week or creating a large personal inventory of meals that you can select from helps you save time and money. It takes a long time to prepare your food every evening. I can personally attest to the hours and frustration that we have saved by having our own little curated recipe book of our favourite easy dishes in our kitchen. We use it to plan one week of meals ahead of time. It saves us from wasting groceries and saves some extra thinking energy because we have done the hard work of planning ahead. One of the best ways to meal plan is to get on the internet and Google recipes with some of the basic ingredients that you have around the house.

For us that is chicken, tortillas, curry paste, rice, spaghetti, and noodles (yes, we lean towards Asian dished 70% of the time). Stirfry recipes and fried rice recipes are a go-to in our home. It’s great to have a large pool of options when you meal plan for your week, and creating a personalized meal plan recipe book can be a very helpful way to begin.

8. Start a New Project

Painting project

Any project will do! Whether that is something creative, something that needs to be fixed in the house, a new side hustle, something to help a friend… it could be any type of project whatsoever. Some of my favourite projects are tidying up around the house, re-organizing spaces, or creating a new centrepiece for our dining table. Pick something fun, something engaging, and something that you will enjoy.

9. Learn a New Language

hello in a variety of languages

DuoLingo anyone? There are some fantastic apps that you can use to learn a new language over a shorter period of time. But learning a language is not something you can achieve in the span of your day off. So when you have time off it can be a great time to start and invest in the beginning stages of picking up the new language. Then you can spend 5 to 10 minutes every day afterwards reinforcing what you have learned. That way you’re not spending a day learning a new language and then forgetting it immediately after (like my experience learning to count to 10 in Thai).

Learning a new language is a great plan if you’re hoping to travel when COVID risks have reduced. It’s also a fantastic way to stretch your brain into new learning and force it to become a little bit more adaptable. Language learning has been shown to have a huge benefit on your brain health increasing the volume of grey matter (neurons) and increasing connectivity. Benefits for your brain and your future travel plans… it’s a win-win.

10. Knock Important Tasks Off a To-Do List

To-Do List

This doesn’t feel relaxing to everyone (and sometimes on a day off all you wanna do is relax) but if you were like me it can be hard to relax when there are things I need to get done lingering in the wings. I am a big proponent of starting a vacation day by taking some things off of my to-do list by completing them. Whether that is the dishes or the laundry. Whether that’s going to the store and buying more dog food or maybe finding a gift for a friend for their birthday. Defining my task list ahead of time and knocking an item off it to start the day allows me to actually relax during the rest of my day off. I struggle to relax if I know there are tasks waiting to be done. So if you’re like me start the day by knocking something important off the to-do list.

11. Volunteer

Volunteers handing out water

One of my favourite places to volunteer is at an animal shelter. If you have seen our home page then it doesn’t surprise you that I like animals and have a specific love for puppies. Now, you don’t have to volunteer at an animal shelter, but figure out what causes you feel drawn towards and find organizations that work in the area. Volunteering can be a very fun way to spend your time as giving back to the community boosts positive hormones and can result in excellent new network connections with similar interests as your own. 

Finding a local charity is fairly easy with the help of Google, but you do need to plan ahead to volunteer with them. Many organizations require a background check, references, and sometimes an interview before you start volunteering with them. So if you have a day off planned and you want to do some volunteering, I recommend reaching out to them early so that you can make sure that you can volunteer with them.

12. Play a Game

Two playstation 4 controllers

Have you played solitaire recently? Probably not since it was a game on Windows XP… but a game of solitaire is an easy way to relax and take your mind off your “to-do list.” Of course, video games are an option too, but your day off is a great opportunity to remove yourself from technology… especially if you spend all of your workday looking at a screen!

13. Social Media Account Purge

Social Media Folder in Phone

Yep, you read that correctly! Clear out all the social media accounts that you follow but that no longer serve you. Go to Facebook or Instagram or any social media platforms that you visit and Unfollow or mute accounts that no longer add value to your life. I do this once a month to make sure that anything that I am seeing is helping me find resources in my community (local donut shops are a must for me), provides me with new ideas and creative outlets, inspires me, or is someone that I know personally. Any accounts that drain my energy, causes me to compare myself unkindly to others, or is upsetting, I unfollow or mute. This is a very valuable way to use the time on your day off because if you purge it well you shouldn’t have to do it too often… especially if you’re careful with what you follow in the future. Maintaining a positive space for yourself on your social media accounts is one of the quickest ways that I can boost my overall well-being. 

14. Make a Cup of Tea

Matcha Green Tea

Drinking tea is a classic way to spend some free time on your day off, and the best part is that it doesn’t take much time. Especially on a nice spring or summer day! Making a pot of tea, whether that’s a looseleaf variety or prepackaged and enjoying it in a quiet space is a wonderful way to spend some time off. In fact, you can even make a customized tea with loose leaf herbs and spices that you’ve assembled yourself. You can make your own mix that you can drink over the next couple of weeks. The best part is trying a few recipes and getting creative based on your preferences. Just because you can buy tea in the store does not mean that you have to buy tea in the store. Making it at home might be the best new skill you learn on your day off.

15. Professional Development Activities

Man looking at an online course

It never feels like I have time to take the courses I want to take. An online course or webinar, networking events, specific articles on work-related topics all get pushed to the side for when I’m “less busy.” Any professional development activity can be a productive way to use your time. Just be careful that you’re not working more than you need to and using your extra time to increase your feeling of burnout. If you are finding yourself burned-out it might be a good time to avoid the professional development activities and spend a little more time on something fun. But if you’re not burnt out and you’re feeling like professional development activities will be energizing, then professional development activities can be great! I’d highly recommend checking out more KNOWLEJOBLE blog articles as part of your professional development days.

16. Start a Savings Account

If you don’t already have a saving strategy, it might be a good idea to open one on your day off. Opening a high-interest savings account is a great place to start. Talk to an advisor or read some personal finance blogs if you are not sure where to begin, but don’t let lack of knowledge stall your progress. By spending a few minutes of your day off starting a savings plan will help you reap long-term financial benefits. 

17. Establish a Budget

Calculator, money, and monthly budget on table

To take one step further to the previous activity, establish a budget and include a monthly amount that you will invest in your savings. Analyze your finances for the last 3 months. Look at what you have paid and categorize them into specific budget line items. Notice if you owe money and plan how to pay it off. If you haven’t established a budget before, auditing your finances can feel very uncomfortable and revealing. But if you stick with it you will find that it is worth it! Learning how to steward your money improves your financial literacy which is one of the most important areas of life that you can invest in. And strong financial literacy will make a long-term positive impact on your well-being so making this one of the most productive uses of your day off.

18. Take a Personal Finance Course

If you’re not sure of how to best use your finances or how to build a budget, spend some time learning from online finance or accounting courses. They can give you guidelines on how to budget, how much to save, how to invest your money, and give you some wise tips on how you should prioritize your money.

19. Enjoy a Bath

Person holding three bath bombs over a bathtub

Taking a bath is one of my favourite relaxation activities. Although I don’t take on often enough when I get in the bath I will spend 2 to 3 hours relaxing in the hot water. I love to let the water get to the point where it’s almost cold before I get out. A bath is a great way to prioritize quiet time, to relax so stiff and tight muscles, restore your energy levels, and have some alone time. 

20. Watch TV

Turned on TV and couch in living room

Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime… there are so many different ways you can watch TV now. We have an endless option of the types of shows that we can watch. Watching TV will help you to take your mind off of everything else going on in your life. It can be relaxing, energizing, and entertaining all at once. If you are like me, you feel guilty for sitting and watching hours of TV, but when the mission is to relax there’s nothing wrong with spending some time watching tv shows.

21. Exercise

Everyone knows that exercise is important, but on our day off it can be very hard to commit to doing any physical activity. Even though you don’t want to, moving your body is a highly productive use of time. Go for a run or a bike ride, do some squats in your kitchen, lunge down your hallway, or just go for a simple walk in the fresh air. Moving your body has physiological and psychological benefits that can’t be underestimated. 

22. Explore a New Neighbourhood in the City

Woman walking down street

I love to explore my city during my spare time. I love to go for drives around different neighbourhoods checking out the houses and the communities. I think where I would recommend people live if they were going to move to my city. Exploring new communities also exposes you to different scenery, different geographies, and new locally owned companies that maybe you might want to try out.

23. Sleep (a lot)

Woman sleeping on couch

Sleep-in in the morning and take a nap whenever you want! Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? One of the great things about taking a day off is the ability to sleep whenever we would like. But not enough of us will take advantage of this because we feel like we shouldn’t take naps as adults. Whether you fall asleep on the couch or go to bed at 1 o’clock in the afternoon because you can, enjoy your sleep on your day off. If you’re feeling sleep-deprived (or if you are not) taking a nap might just be the best thing for your day off.

24. Clear Your Emails

Mail App on Phone

My personal emails pile up over a very short time. Especially with all my online shopping and email marketing that I receive. Spending a few minutes clearing your emails of the junk, reducing the clutter and organizing the emails that are important to you can really clear your mind and lower your stress levels for the next couple of months. If you can delete as much as possible from your inbox and remove some of that extra attention-seeking messages that you never use but keep just in case you will have had a very productive few hours. Emails are a huge time waster and take up a lot of our mental energy. Having a clean inbox can be a great way to spend some time of your day off.

25. Have a Dance Party

Four girls dancing

Dancing is a great way to spend some time! They are fun, energizing, relaxing and you can look absolutely ridiculous when dancing in your kitchen. The less inhibitions you bring to your dance party, the better! Dancing (by yourself or with someone else) boosts the levels of endorphins and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol. So listen to your favourite tunes and move your body in whatever way feels right to you… no judgement here. 

26. Plan a Big Project

I love to plan home renovations (big and small). Planning helps me to focus on the future, create a vision, plan the timeline, and develop a budget for my new ideas. Some of them never happen, but I enjoy creating options for myself. Planning a big project takes a little while which makes it easy to do when you have some spare time. And that way you will be ready to execute your plan when the time is right.

27. Dream Up Your Next Vacation

Woman on boat in tropical paradise

We are all thinking about our next vacation these days! I’ve have been dreaming of a trip to Thailand for 18 months and googling the must-see attractions and thinking about where we would want to stay is a great way to pass the time. Whether you are a frequent flyer or a road-trip warrior, planning a vacation is a good thing to get excited about the future and to stay focused on what is to come.

28. Watch Funny Videos

Woman laughing at laptop in kitchen

Once a week my husband spends 3 hours binging TikTok videos. We have all started the endless scroll and ended up realizing the time hours later. There’s no better time to be had than laughing so hard that you could cry at funny videos, or learning something brand new on an entertaining platform. Laughter therapy is a great way to use some time.

29. Visit a Virtual Museum

Photo of a museum

COVID-19 has forced museums and galleries to become creative with their showcases, and one of the best pivots has been being able to access the virtual galleries of museums across the world. Museums expand your mind to learn something new and can be a great way to spend some time.

30. Complete the House Chores

Woman stuck in washing machine

This is my least favourite idea out of the whole list, but also the way that I choose to use my time most frequently. Ultimately it is satisfying to have clean laundry, a clean countertop, freshly vacuumed carpets, and a sparkling bathroom. And although the activities of chores are not fun, the satisfaction of a job well done can be worth it.

31. Go Shopping

Woman holding out shopping bags in joy

Everyone enjoys a shopping spree once in a while. And if you’ve already planned your budget, then you know exactly how much that you have available to spend. Budgeting helps take away the risk of overspending and removes the guilt from your purchases. The shopping spree that you want (home decor, accessories, clothes, whatever) are all well within reach both online and offline for your day off.

32. Take a Short Road Trip

Girl looking out of car window on road trip

Road trips are very fun… especially when you’re exploring a new area, find a small town or community that is close to you, or Google the nearest attractions in your area and take a small road trip out to them. Maybe take a picnic basket of goodies to snack on and enjoy the feeling of getting away. Even if it’s just a short jaunt out of town.

33. Wear Your PJs All-Day

woman wearing pajamas in mustard chair with a Shiba-Inu

There’s nothing more comfortable than wearing your pyjamas. We all looked forward to PJ Day in school, so why don’t we make our own PJ days now. There is something about PJs that relax you and take the pressure off. Keeping them on tells you that, “today will be different.” Change the first thing you do in the day from getting dressed to making a coffee, and let the rest of your day unfold from there. 

34. Wash Your Vehicle

Person washing their vehicle

Wash whatever you use to transport yourself from A to B. This could be a car, or a truck, or a bicycle… maybe even just your shoes. Take some time and wash them off! You’ll feel so much more energized the next day when you go to use them again.

35. Be a Chef

Woman rolling dough in kitchen

Cook something new! Come up with a new recipe from scratch and use it to create a delicious meal for yourself, your family, or your friends. YouTube and Google provide great inspiration for creative dishes. Google an ingredient, flavour or cuisine to find a recipe that you’ll be interested in cooking. The best part is pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to learn a new technique, or taste a new ingredient, or do something that’s going to challenge you to upscale your skills.

36. Plant a Garden

Person planting seedling into ground

Whether inside or outside, it can be so nice to grow fresh vegetables and herbs. Knowing that you helped cultivate them brings satisfaction, and homegrown is always much more delicious. Go talk to a local gardening centre and ask them to teach you about the best way to grow your favourites.

37. Pick Up an Instrument

Person playing piano

if you’re not a musician this can be challenging, but the only way to become a musician is by starting your musical journey. Pick up an instrument, start singing, or find a virtual piano app for your phone. The only way to become a musician is to start! It doesn’t have to be good, but every moment that you spend on your music during your day off will help you get a little bit better. 

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