What is a day off? Well, usually, it is a day where we don’t go to work. Usually, it is a day where we decide what we are going to do, rather than laboring over things that are, for the most part, obligatory. Usually a day off is a day of freedom. Or is it?
What can tend to happen with a day off is that it can often times be wasted-wasted by undisciplined TV watching and aimless browsing of the internet. But why does this happen? Most of the time, it is because we have nothing to do. There are no assignments that are due the next day; there are no emails that must be responded to immediately; there are no structured times for meetings, phone conferences, and other responsibilities that our jobs entail. Some kind of productivity (unless you are really lazy) is almost a given if you have a reasonable amount of work to do at your job. On the other hand, a day off can be viewed as a day that is inherently without responsibility and structure. This, I think, is the problem.
I experienced this problem last week. I had a day off. My days off are Thursday and Saturday, and my wife is at work on Thursday so I had the day to myself. There were a few things that I needed to attend to: laundry, oil change, writing a blog, and a personal phone call. Plus, I had planned to lift weights sometime that day, so I fit that in toward the end of the day.
However, there were massive chunks of time that I did, well, a whole lot of nothing. In the morning, after I had the oil changed in my car, I sat down to write a blog. After the blog was finished I started to peruse the internet. What started as a harmless few minutes of checking the news on my Google home page, turned into a couple hours of touring the internet: reading blogs, looking into news article, etc. Some of it was helpful, a lot of it was a waste of time.
After I wasted a solid wedge of time, I thought that I should probably do something productive, so I started the laundry. Needless to say, however, after the laundry was taken care of, I found myself with little to do; so I meandered back up to the computer: checking the news, reading blogs, etc.
Well, all that free time certainly did not satisfy like I thought it would. After wasting more than a couple hours on the internet, I felt drained, frustrated, and burdened with the feeling that I had wasted the Lord’s time. However, the more I pondered my negligence, the more the solution became clear. I had forgot one small (yet tremendously helpful) little detail: I forgot to make a plan.
Make a plan? What are you talking about, Derek? I thought we were supposed to relax on our day off? We are. But relaxation doesn’t necessarily mean that we are supposed to chuck all sense of structure and healthy productivity. In fact, the most relaxing and refreshing days I experience are when I plan how I am going to rest and relax.
For example, if I could go back and redo last Thursday, I would have made a list that would have looked somewhat like this:
1. Have oil changed (back at 8:30am)
2. Write blog (8:30-9:30am)
3. Do Laundry (start at 9:30am)
4. Clean study (during laundry until 10:30)
5. Clean desk and file articles (10:30-11:30am)
6. Eat lunch and watch some of ‘Two Towers’ (11:30-12:30pm)
7. Finish Laundry (12:30-1:00pm)
8. Work on Book Catalog (1:00-2:00pm)
9. Lift weights (2:00-3:00pm)
10. Talk to PJ on the phone (3:00-4:00pm)
11. Read “No Place for Truth” by David Wells (until Amy gets home)
Notice that I scheduled a long, leisurely lunch, coupled with some good ol’ Lord of the Rings. I even scheduled a fun project that I have been working on: my book catalog. Far from being restrictive, approaching days off like this is not only productive, it proves to be more refreshing at the end of the day than merely flipping channels and nudging the mouse around. I do things I enjoy; I do things that I need to do. But things are accomplished and I trust that this pleases the Lord more than purposless meandering through the day.
So, make a list. Plan your day off. And, if you do want some time to read the news, surf some blogs, etc., schedule time for that, and stick to the schedule. This, I believe, is a good way to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16).