Have you ever returned from holiday and felt like you needed another one? Just one more weekend of silent peace to spend on yourself, soaking in the bath, and solving crosswords in the hammock; time that can be spent on looking at the skies and playing with your dog. It’s strange how we tend to exhaust ourselves during the holidays, feeling like every day needs to be filled with adventure, and annoying our family members while we’re at it.
Whether you’re reading this post in the tight seat of an airplane or if you’ve just sat down with a cup of tea at home, you’ll thank yourself for spending your downtime on productive activities. These tasks can make your life a whole lot better when it’s back to the real world.
Schedule your appointments
Finally, you have the time to do all of those boring things you keep putting off. It’s a lot easier to relax and feel good about yourself when you know that nothing can arise to disturb your tranquility – and an endless list of to-dos is sure to disturb even the most relaxed person.
Before you head for that barbecue you’ve been looking forward to, check as much off from your list as you can. Make an appointment with the dentist, get a haircut, call the plumber, and take your resentful pet to the regular check up at the veterinarian.
Any small inconvenience that could arise must be swept away immediately. It won’t just keep your teeth and hair in good condition, or make sure that your furry friend is perfectly healthy; it will also lower your pulse a little bit, give you a healthier posture, and make it easier to laugh in general.
It’s also the perfect time for planning your upcoming schedule as well – you know, the kind of task we’re always great at after a long break. Be good to yourself and do it before the break this time for more clarity and even a bit of creativity; have a look at these wonderful planners and calendars, for example, and rejoice over how neat you’re going to make them look.
Learn a new skill
We keep thinking about how to improve ourselves, but most of us are looking in the wrong places. They ask how they can look better, communicate better, and appear to be more confident even though they’re not; what they should have been asking is how they can improve their current skills or learn a new one. Knowledge is power as it can make you look better, talk better, and turn you into a more confident person all at the same time.
Most of us have a skill we would like to learn sooner or later but keep putting off as there’s never enough time. Becoming fluent in another language, for example, growing a wonderfully luscious flower garden, or learning how to code.
These are studies that require a lot of dedication and a motivated learner; squeezing it into your regular schedule, between all those Monday meetings, weekly lectures, lengthy assignments, and various work projects is simply not going to work as well.
Find beginner’s classes online and meet up with other groups who are at the same level of learning as yourself. It’s difficult to learn a new skill all on your own, and many before you have purchased a book or two, completed the first couple of chapters and felt good enough about themselves to call it a day.
You might have experienced this with yourself – and learning a new language is certainly a skill where you’re going to need other people in order to succeed.
Another fun idea is to learn an entirely new skill that has nothing to do with your current job or studies. We’re talking art, of course, and you’re going to love meeting the new painter, writer, designer, or decorator inside of you. Even though you may not associate these type of skills with something that can benefit you in other areas of your life, learning to be more creative is one of the most crucial things you can do for yourself.
Creativity can certainly be learned – and there is no better way of doing this than to approach it playfully and without expecting to get anything more out of it than a good time. Have a look at this insightful article, by the way, and get started on that watercolor landscape of your garden that you’ve been thinking about for so long.
Improve a current skill
Your opportunities for entertainment during downtime is vast, endless, and intrusive in many ways. The world doesn’t seem to understand that, after a long day of work, we just want to sit in peace and stare at a blank wall without being judged. Come vacation, on the other hand, and we run towards these opportunities with open arms. Even though your brain is no longer tired but rather thirsting for new inputs, try to choose the kind of food you feed it with carefully – and a book is often a much better option than the television.
We enjoy doing what we do well; it’s no secret. Give yourself a treat this summer by focusing on improving something you’ve already mastered – or further your knowledge in different fields. Try to stick to something you enjoy that’s also stimulating, creative, or educational in some way or another; play a game of chess with your dad, soak up nature on a mountain hike with your best friend, complete a novel, and cook up a feast for your friends and family.
It’s a good idea to focus on something intellectual or soul soothing which you normally don’t have time for during your normal working hours. Students, for example, who will be launching a career in criminal justice when they graduate, can find many interesting courses and educational articles to further their studies in the summer.
No matter what kind of field your studies or current work happens to be in, the Internet is a vast resource, and you’d be working in an extraordinary field if you were to find no relevant courses online.
Learn how to meditate
Sure, this could have been a part of learning a new skill or improving an existing one, but meditation goes further than expanding your knowledge or educating yourself. It’s needless to mention all the science-backed proof of the amount of health benefits meditation provides – but you can have a look here if you’re still sceptical and find it to be some sort of new-age nonsense.
See it as a form of self-hypnotism that is able to make you a more productive, calmer, and generally happier person.
If you know a thing or two about yoga, you’re probably aware that it wasn’t intended to be a strenuous way of exercising and building muscles at all; it was supposed to clear your mind for meditation. Those breathing techniques you keep including in your routine is ideal for focusing your attention as well as a reminder of slowing down – if you’re exercising too vigorously, you won’t be able to breathe in the same slow and steady rhythm.
When you’re new to meditation, it’s a good idea to think like the old Indians did back in the days and exercise lightly first to clear your mind.
You don’t have to approach it step by step, though, and some meditation guides seem to believe it’s necessary to coach you through the entire process; from how you should sit to how you should be holding your hands. You don’t need all of this. All you need is a room of your own, more than ten minutes to let your shoulders down, and silence enough to notice the flow of your thoughts. Focus on your breath, relax and allow each thought to pass quietly; you don’t have to force yourself not to think.
Your mind will wander, and you should allow it to do so, placing yourself as a calm observer of your own thoughts. Whenever it goes off track, focus your attention quietly back on your breathing again.
Organize your space
Finally, a neat and tidy space equals a neat and tidy mind – which is just what you’ve been looking for. Making something clean and seeing the results of your work as you go makes you a happier and healthier human being; even the simple task of doing dishes is worth its weight in gold compared to costly appointments with professionals.
Try to organize areas you probably won’t have time for as soon as it’s back to reality. An hour or two spent on tidying up your wardrobe, for example, will put a smile on your face every time you open it up in the morning – plus, the clothes you give away are going to put a smile on a lot of other people’s faces. Go through your garage, make your selection of spices neat and up to date again, and spend half an hour on organizing your inbox.
When it’s back to work or studies in a month or two, you’re going to love yourself even more for all of these small but useful ways you’ve helped yourself to become a more productive you.