When I’m working hard, I often find myself craving for some off time, for the opportunity to lay down my responsibilities, just for a glimpse, and get some “me” time… Up until recently, I would actually take that time, once in a while, and would tire of the idleness very quickly. I’d dream about having the time to drink my morning coffee and read a good book only to find myself indecisive about the million things I could do to make the most of my time and in the end gulp down my coffee and never get to that good book…
I actually find it very hard to really enjoy off time and for a couple of reasons:
First, taking time for yourself is very hard to do if you never do it. It’s like a muscle and if every week you take even just an hour for yourself then your muscle gets trained and when you get more time for yourself you might actually have a clue about what to do with it. When you never take time for yourself, you just build a backlog over time of things you want to do, and never get to do, and when the time comes, there’s no way to know which activity will give you the most enjoyment for your time.
And second, there’s the enticing idea of being idle, sleeping more in the morning (if you don’t have kids), binging on movies or TV shows you never get to see otherwise, or just have time to do nothing. The problem with idle time is… That it’s boring, and even more so when you are very active the rest of the year. Then, your system is just not used to being idle, your brain is all year long on a million different topics and so putting that engine on pause can be quite hard.
There a few things I’ve been doing lately that have helped me a lot enjoying my off time and those are:
- Take time to see the people you love, the significant people of your life. Whether they’re your life partner, your family, extended family, or your friends, just spend time with them. Have lunch, diner, grab a coffee, or do something that does not involve food (your choice not mine! ?). Spend time with the people that have your well-being at heart.
- Be idle strategically. Watch some of those TV shows but don’t binge. What an episode a day, not more. Of course, those episodes will all end with a twist and you could just watch the next one with a single tap of your remote or keyboard but remember, if you do so, you’ll just get to the next twist 45 minutes later… So, enjoy those episodes one at a time.
- Be active. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but being active is not the opposite of taking time off. Think about sleep for example, you’re supposed to be resting but your brain is just as active, just in different ways. Well resting from work is just the same, all you need is to enjoy other activities that use different parts of your brain and body. So, plan to do stuff. Go out, cook, play with your kids but be active. Not only will you enjoy your time, but you’ll make great memories for yourself.
- Building on the previous point, be active but not overly so. Don’t plan to do more than 2 things per day, leave time to waste time. Do things but take your time. It’s all about enjoying your time off.
- Be in the present. Probably the millionth time you’ve read this, but it is still true. Don’t plan for the future, don’t work to better yourself, leave those things for the rest of the year, just do enjoyable things for the sake of doing them. Do things that don’t add significant value to your life. Read a novel just to enjoy your time, cook something not to become a better cook, but just to try something new or eat something you like, enjoy the moment.
- As much as possible, disconnect from the internet. Our phones are now so ingrained in our lives that it’s impossible to imagine putting them down for a week. Now, when you do not remember the name of that lead actor in the movie you saw last week you just pull out your phone and check it out, how did people do it in the past? Well they waited until they could access a computer or before that, they would rack their brain… how crazy is that?!? What you can do though do disconnect a bit is to turn off notifications, so you don’t get pulled back in every other second and also hide your email app icon. Sounds simple but if you just hide on another screen or bundle together all the apps you check all day long you’ll realize that it’s a little bit easier to get unhooked from them. At least for a few days…
Also, as usual, here’s a short video on keeping mental space for personal life which comes from my course called Bootstrapping Your Business on LinkedIn Learning. It’s quite hard to do, but a necessity…
Are you going to do something special next week? Or do you have your own way to disconnect when you are off and really enjoy your time away from work? Please share for the benefit out the readers here, and mine as well, I just might add one of your ideas to my plan for next week!