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Planning Your Next Day Off

Mar 11, 2024

People are always asking my wife and I about our day off. It's true, our days off are pretty good. So I'm writing this short piece in order to share a bit about why a weekly day off is so important to us, how we protect and prioritize it, and the ways we use that down time to make our lives better.

Why Take a Day Off?

This is not a new concept. In fact, it's one of the original concepts. God introduced a day of rest in the very beginning, and even modeled the importance of taking a day off. To keep it simple, we take a day off because we work pretty hard the rest of the week and we need the down time. We need to catch up with each other and revisit the areas of life that may need our attention. We need to get a little extra sleep. We need to recharge our batteries in a way that is meaningful to us. But above all that, we take a day off because we recognize that God wired us for this rhythm: work and rest. We've noticed that when we (or people we know) neglect this practice, everything suffers. It's amazing to watch how much more we can achieve when we're living in alignment with our design. 


Protecting Your Day Off

It never fails. We're almost 30 years into marriage and over 25 years into ministry, and we still have challenges to keeping our day off in place. Every week someone or something "demands" my attention on our day off. Thankfully, we've crafted some boundaries that keep us from caving in so that we can maintain this life-giving practice. Here are a few things we do:

1. Communicate the importance of our day off to our family, friends and team.

2. Refuse to give it up. Seriously.

3. Encourage and support the same kind of time off for our team, and teach it to our church.

4. Schedule everything in life and work around protecting this sacred day.


Making the Most of Your 24 Hours

You may have noticed that my wife and I take the same day off. We've done that for over 25 years. I realize that many couples and families may not have this luxury, but it is something we have fought to get and keep over the years. If at all possible, I encourage you to sync up your time off with your spouse, even for part of your day off. There's nothing like unhurried time together to build your relationship.

My wife may have different answers for what she hopes to get out of a day off, but here are the four things I always seek during that special 24-hour period:

1. Rest. Honestly, I'm not a great sleeper. I may not even sleep in on my day off, but a day without work always feels more restful. I can have a leisurely morning, an extra cup of coffee, an extended time of journaling, or just some time sitting in the quiet. For me, that's life-giving and it makes me feel rested just as much as extra sleep would. A great mentor once told me, "find out what recharges you and schedule it regularly." That's the responsibility of each of us. 

2. Relationship. They say "relationship" is spelled "T-I-M-E." I believe that's true, and it's why a day off is so vital to keeping strong relationships in your life. First with God, then with your spouse if you're married, then with your family. A day off is a great time to not only evaluate each of those relationships, but to invest in them in some intentional way throughout the day. The truth is, the rest of the week gets a little crazy and this important day has become for me a place to pause and make sure all is well where it matters most.

3. Recreation. Re-creation is one of my favorite parts of a day off. It can mean "play" but I think of it more literally: as though God is breathing life into me once again. Often for us this means exploring a new part of our city, eating at a new restaurant, finding a new hike, or throwing the bikes on the back of the car and going out some favorite cycling spot. How you do it is up to you, but the idea is to disconnect completely from work so that you can connect with your soul again. It's balancing your output with a little input. As they say, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." 

4. Readiness. Before a day off can be rated as "great" it's got to help you get ready for the week ahead. For me this means reflecting and planning. I look back at the last week with some key questions like, "What did I learn? What did I achieve? What went well? What could I have done better?" I review my dreams, goals and projects and look ahead at the week to come and determine my priorities. When I've done a good job with this final piece, I can lay my head on the pillow that evening and sleep like a baby, knowing that another week is about to start well.

If a day off is something you need to start or strengthen, I hope these tips will help you get moving. I'm confident you'll feel the difference right away. I'd love to hear back from you about what you're implementing. (And my wife wants to know all about the new restaurants you're trying!). 




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