When you take a day off, you plan to not do your work. You plan to disengage for a little while to refresh, recharge, and reset. This is one of the most important and responsible things you can do. You can grind away and grind away some more, but without taking time off, you are not only grinding away at your work, you are grinding down yourself too.
An off day is the opposite of a day off. When you have an off day, you plan to do your work, but you don’t.
- When you have an off day, you allow yourself to be distracted by the Internet and spend your time on Facebook. You click through a few links, and next thing you know you are down the rabbit hole. Minutes turn to hours with nothing to show for them.
- Your off day might also be caused by your mental state. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, if you aren’t eating right, sleeping well, exercising, and doing something to eliminate stress, you might wake up in foul mood. If you are in an unproductive state, you can easily find that you have given up half a day or more to your physical and psychological state.
- If you haven’t firewalled the time you need for your priorities, then you might find that you have an off day because you have allowed others to make demands of you. Maybe you spent two hours in your inbox, responding to other people’s priorities. Or you allowed people to walk into your office or call you on the phone, giving them the time the you needed for what is really most important.
It’s important to have days where the only thing you produce is a re-energized you. You might even decide to take seven days in a row to recover and regenerate your emotional and physical energy. But there is no reason to have an off day (or multiple off days in a row). This is a recipe for mediocrity . . . or worse.
It’s important to take days off. But it is not okay to have an off day.