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Andrew Arkley|April 29, 2024

Things To Do On A Day Off: Making The Most Of Annual Leave

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With only a short amount of time away from work, sometimes it’s tricky to pick the best things to do on a day off.

When you have a week or two off work, it’s more straightforward – most people will go somewhere to relax, either within the country or abroad. But with just one day off work, the time goes by very quickly.

So it’s well worth thinking in advance about what to do on a day off from work and planning ahead.

Most staff working a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave per year, as the government confirms. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday, including bank holidays – it’s your statutory annual leave entitlement.

In the UK, employees are taking less and less time off, according to PeopleHR. Including bank holidays, a typical employee took 33.9 days off in 2023 on average, down from 36.7 in 2022 and 38 in 2020.

Why? One potential reason is the rise of ‘unlimited paid time off’, with many employees actually taking fewer days off as a result, contrary to what the term implies.

Also, some companies aren’t mandating that employees stop working on bank holidays. And of course, it’s industry-dependent, with PeopleHR also reporting that 9% of those in financial services are taking less annual leave year-on-year for example.

It’s all the more reason to make sure you make the most of your annual leave when the time comes round. There are lots of different ways you can do this – let’s look at some of the most popular options around what to do on a day off:


Unplug, unwind and relax! For most people – unless they have other commitments, e.g. looking after the kids – this is a top priority in terms of things to do on your day off.

It can be exhausting working full time over a long period, but a day off is a great chance to regroup, refresh and give yourself a mental break from the daily grind.

If you’re tired, spend a little more time in bed – or schedule a nap for the afternoon, but don’t overdo it or you might feel groggy after waking up.

Recharging looks different for everyone. Simply speaking, for example, if you’re more of an extrovert, you might get more energy back by seeing family or friends. But if you’re more of an introvert, perhaps you’d prefer a day at home, with time alone to focus on your hobbies.

Unless you can’t avoid it, don’t check your work emails or Slack messages on a day off. If you’re someone who worries about what’s happening at work without you, try the following:

  • Writing a list of anything you’re worried about before your day off, plus how you could positively handle the situation once you’re back at work
  • Make a mini-handover plan before your day off and share it with the team, delegating any tasks that need to move forward in your absence

In that sense, there are some similarities between an employee preparing to take a day off and someone having their last day at work. Here’s our guide to the last day at work dos and don’ts.


When you’ve had a tough time at work before your day off, this is particularly important. If possible, get outdoors and into nature for a change of scene, fresh perspective and a mental health boost.

If you’ve found it tough to do some physical activity in recent weeks, you’ll likely feel a lot better if you can exercise on a day off. There are so many benefits, including:

  • Boosting energy levels
  • Burning calories
  • Improving mental health
  • Boosting self-esteem
  • Sleeping better

A long walk in the park or a run down the street will feel good. If the weather’s bad outside, indoor yoga is a great option too when thinking about what to do with a day off.

Treat yourself

Do something on your day off that’s guaranteed to make you smile. It’s important to enjoy your day off.

That could involve:

  • Eating your favourite snack or lunch
  • Watching your favourite show
  • Taking a long bath
  • Going to the cinema
  • Playing video games

Again, everyone’s idea of a treat is something different. In the next section, we’ll cover any tasks you might want to finish on your day off – planning a treat for when you’re done is a great motivator!

Finish some personal tasks

After working so hard, it can be tough to find the energy at weekends to complete errands and chores on your personal to-do-list. If you’ll feel better by being productive and ticking off some things on your list, this is what to do with a day off.

Try to finish your personal tasks quickly and efficiently. Handle them like mini projects at work – block out other distractions and see them off, so you can move on with your day.

It feels great when you finally finish something that’s been on your mind for a while and gives your day off a boost. Try not to dedicate your entire day off to annoying chores though, otherwise you may not recharge well – set aside enough time for your treat.

Try a new hobby

If you’re a creative person, the fresh experience of trying out a brand new hobby may be the best way to recharge.

But this is also a great way to spend a day off if you’re at a loose end. In other words – if you don’t have any errands to do, you’re feeling fresh and don’t want to risk feeling bored on a day off.

If that’s the case, maybe try several new hobbies. Fill your day with new experiences!

If you like, think about hobbies and interests for your CV – some might be more relevant for your career than others. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Painting
  • Playing an instrument
  • Dancing
  • Photography
  • Baking
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Cycling
  • Gardening
  • Collecting
  • Hiking
  • Knitting
  • Drawing
  • Team sports

Alternatively, rather than picking up a new hobby, you could think about your CPD and start practising a new skill.

Start learning a new skill

This is a good idea if you’re thinking about asking for a promotion, or want to build up some transferable skills before a career change.

Now you’re unlikely to learn a whole new skill in a day. But crucially, a day off gives you some time to get the ball rolling.

You could research different skills, providers, costs and so on. For an on-demand course, a day off also gives you time to make a reasonable amount of headway – then you could aim to finish the rest of it during evenings and weekends.

The right skill for you will depend on your industry, but here are some popular examples.

  • Coding
  • Programming
  • Management training
  • Accountancy
  • Business leadership
  • Digital marketing

And speaking of your CPD…

Final thoughts: Career progression – what to do on my day off?

Last but by no means least, a day off can be a great opportunity to work towards your next career move.

Perhaps you think there’s a new role out there higher up the career ladder that’s just waiting for you, or you’re frustrated in your current role. Here are 5 signs it’s time to quit a job!

If you’re struggling to find time on weekends for writing a CV or working on other application accessories – updating your LinkedIn profile, putting together a cover letter… A day off is perfect for this.

An important caveat though. Make sure you still recharge on a day off if you’re going back to work the next day, otherwise you might feel burnt out.

And if other companies want to interview you but you’re busy at work? Instead of pretending you’re unwell or at the dentist, consider scheduling the interviews at the end of your day off, then spend a few hours beforehand preparing for the calls.

We hope this guide has helped you think about what to do on your day off.

It depends on whether you just need a quick break from work, or want some extra time to move your career forward – or anything in between. In terms of what to do on days off, it’s your annual leave, so barring other commitments it should be up to you!

For other helpful guides and career tips, check out our blog. And if you’d like us to help you make that next step forward in your career, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the PurpleCV team!

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