How to Have a Productive Day Off

Do you ever wonder how to have a productive day off? Sometimes we have a day off from work – it might be a weekend or a Holiday, or we simply took a day off from work – and we want to make the best of it. We want to do something productive. Something we normally don’t have time to do. My best days are the ones when I am productive during the day and have plenty of time to relax in the evening. Having a productive day simply energizes me and makes me feel very accomplished.

But is there a formula for a productive day off? Not necessarily. But there are definitely a few things that have always worked for me.

Productive Day Off Starts with a Brain Dump

One of the first productive things to do on your day off is to start it with a brain dump session. Sometimes the idea of the day off to catch up on some of the things is so appealing that our mind goes into overdrive with all ideas for that day. We think about all the things that we can do. We can get our meal plan for the week, get groceries, organize our master closet, clear our inbox, and take the kids to the playground. That list goes on and on. Because during the typical work week our days are pretty structured around the work and school schedule.

So that day off seems almost magical. Your mind starts coming up with all those ideas of how to best utilize this extra time you have on our hands.

The problem is that we have so many thoughts we don’t even know where to start. It is quickly becoming overwhelming. You start asking yourself: where should I start? What do I do first?

Working Mom's guide to a Productive Day Off

The Process of Brain Dumping

This is why I love a good brain dumping session. And you will too! Take out a piece of paper and start writing down all the ideas floating in your head. I like to group them into categories. Mine are usually: clean/organize, plan/research, work, family, self, and other.

The idea is to clear your head. Don’t overthink it. Anything that is in your head needs to be written down. Don’t worry about whether or not you will be able to get to it today. We will get to that in a little bit. But really declutter your mind from all those to do tasks and ideas. I promise this process will set a positive tone for your day. And you will feel much more motivated and productive. A few months ago I showed my productive day off on my YouTube channel – check it out if you want to see how my productive days off look like. I have since created a productive day off template for myself to use that give me just a bit more structure. You can get it on my Etsy shop.


The clean/organize category includes things that you want to organize, clean, and any household responsibilities you want to tackle. Work category will include anything that you want to do (or remember to do when you get back to work) for your job or side business. I know that as a working mom it’s hard to turn off the work part of the brain even on your day off. The idea is not to use your day off to do your work (although I felt it necessary to do in a few instances in the past) but to write down any work related tasks that preoccupy your mind. You can get to them when you get back to work, but if you don’t write them down they will keep popping in your head throughout the day.

Next, you have plan/research category. This is an area where you would put things related to a birthday party you are planning or things you want to start doing in preparation for the upcoming vacation. This can also be used to write down things that you have to research: new meal ideas, a landscaping company for some yard work you want done this fall, or new backpacks for your kids.

The category of family includes any types of tasks that are related to family members. They could be responsibilities or fun things you would like to do with them. Think of appointments you have to schedule, forms you have to sign, or play dates you want to plan. The self category is to include things that you would like to do for yourself. Maybe look for a great personal development book or schedule a pedicure. Things that will help you relax and re-energize. And finally, there is other category, because there are simply things that cannot be categorized and it’s nice to have a catch-all spot on your brain dump list.

RELATED: Time Management Strategies for Overwhelmed Moms

Have a Plan – Top Things

Once you have done your brain dump session, take a look at it and see what will be your concentration for that day. Pick 1 to 3 things that you would like to accomplish that day. If possible, it would be great to pick a theme for the day. In other words, concentrate on tasks that are similar. Maybe you would like to use that day to make some progress on decluttering your house. Or perhaps you would like to concentrate on food prepping for the week. Then your tasks would include meal plan, grocery shopping, cooking and food prepping.

Remember that you get to decide how to have a productive day off. You get to choose the types of tasks that will make you feel accomplished at the end of the day. The process of selecting those tasks will be much easier when we have that brain dump list ready. It will make it much more clear for you to decide what is most important for you to accomplish.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that you may want to consider items on your list that are easier to accomplish on a day off. Things are difficult to do when you are working during the day and have limited time in the evenings. It might help you narrow down your opinions of tasks to have a productive day off.

RELATED: Best Way to Plan your Day with a Planner

Make a To Do List

And now let’s get a to-do list ready for the day. You might be asking: we just did the list! I just dumped all the tasks on the list when I was doing my brain dump! Why are you telling me to make another one?

Simply because the brain dump list is likely very long. And you will only make a small dent on it during your day off. And I don’t know about you, but crossing off 6 items from a list of 30 is not very satisfying to me 🙂 It will not make me feel very accomplished.

The idea of the brain dump list is to clear your mind and divide the tasks among different days or even weeks – depending what kinds of things you have listed. So you will take the tasks that you want to accomplish on your productive day off and write them down on a separate to-do list. This will be the list that you will use to make yourself accountable.

Related: Home To-Do List to Get Organized

What do I do with the brain dump list?

Cross off anything you have just transferred to your daily to-do list. Those will be the things that are being addressed today. And the rest will go into your planner. You can spend some time deciding when you would like to accomplish those tasks. Some will be easy to figure out. For example, you might have some work tasks listed that you can just put in your planner for a specific day in the upcoming week.

Other tasks might take some additional planning time. For example, if you have listed a lot of areas of your house that you would like to clean you might need to develop a system to help you with that. This video will help you get some ideas on how to deal with your long lists of tasks.

Get Going

And this is where the work begins. When you ask: how to have a productive day off? The answer must include: you have to do the work 🙂 You have your to-do list to keep you accountable so not it’s time to start working on it.

Turn on some music, grab a cup of coffee, turn on an audible book – whatever will keep you energized and motivated. And keep going!

Make sure that you have something to look forward to at end! Something to look forward to when you are done with your list. Which lead me to my last point.

Remember about Your Morning and Evening Routines

It is really important to stick to your regular morning and evening routines during your day off. The morning routine will help you start the day on the right note. You will get things going your typical way and that will set your brain in the productive mode. And your evening routine will ensure that your house is back in order for the next day. You don’t want to wake up the next morning to a house that is messy and cluttered because you did not do your regular evening routine. That will automatically make you feel like you really did not have a productive day.

Include some Down Time

While you want to have a productive day off, you don’t want to be exhausted by the end of it. You want to do something fun and relaxing as well. Whether that is fun evening out with family, taking a relaxing bath, going to Target, or reading a book. Something that you will truly enjoy. The idea of a productive day is not for you to be more tired then on the day you work. You want to feel accomplished but not overwhelmed.

Your Turn

What is your idea of a productive day off? What makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day?



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Wife, mom, full-time employee, blogger. Love to travel, read mysteries, and everything chocolate. Learning to embrace the imperfections and helping others embrace theirs.

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