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Taking One Day Off a Week

When I was in graduate school, I had a good friend who religiously took Sundays off from schoolwork—not primarily for religious purposes, however; she simply carved out one day a week for herself, to put away her school books and assignments and nurture her soul. She would spend time with friends, read non-school books for pleasure, exercise, and do any number of things that allowed her to rest and recharge for the demanding week ahead.

At the time, I was completely baffled by this practice. I mean, graduate school is all-encompassing: there is always work to be done. With hundreds of pages of reading due each night, weekly papers, and class prep and grading, how on earth could someone take a whole day off?! It seemed sacrilegious to me…like she was violating some weird graduate school oath we had implicitly taken by entering the doctoral fray. And yet…she outperformed pretty much everyone in our cohort, she never turned in late or subpar work, her ideas were the product of deliberate and extended consideration rather than half-formed thoughts, and she exuded peace and happiness—in a PhD program no less!

Many years later, as a remote worker, I completely understand her reasoning: take one day off, and every other day will not only be more productive; it will be more pleasurable. In short: Seven days of work each week equals burnout. Taking one day for self-care is crucial for anyone’s success in life, whether they’re an entrepreneur, a telecommuter, or a graduate student.

It’s particularly the case for entrepreneurs and remote workers whose work-life boundaries are so hazy. Because both groups often work at odd times, shifting between work and life erratically throughout the week, it can become difficult to get out of work mode. And as we all know…work can fill up any space we give it, so if we give it seven days a week, it will take up exactly seven days. The paradox is that no matter how much we work in those seven days, there will still be work left to do. So by working ourselves ragged every day of the week, we are not really accomplishing much—in fact, we’re probably accomplishing less. We’re limiting our ability to engage in productive, focused work during the workweek as well as endangering our emotional and physical health.

I encourage you to experiment with designating one day a week a “no work” day. It doesn’t need to be a Sunday unless you already keep the sabbath, or unless you, like me, find this an effective rest day because it heads off the week.

Do you work seven days a week, or do you take a day off? What things do you like to do on your day off? How does taking this time for yourself affect your personal and professional life? We want to know!


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