It’s easy to buy into busy culture but you don’t have to! Here’s how adding appointment-free days into my weekly schedule has boosted my productivity, creativity, and overall well-being.

How often do you find yourself answering the question “How are you?” with “Busy.”? For some busyness is a badge of honor. For me, it’s a sign I’m pushing too hard and need to make some adjustments to my way of living. One of the greatest things I’ve done for my mental health and professional stamina is built in appointment-free days.

About 2 years ago I started building in two each week: Wednesdays and Sundays. As the owner and CEO of Pursuit, my work involves being very social. I’m constantly building new professional relationships, maintaining existing ones, being available for my team, and nurturing my personal bonds. Five days a week I’m pulled in multiple directions and am making sure I’m operating on schedule. I’ve designed my life to be this way but for my own well-being, I need some time where others aren’t expecting me. Though it may seem counterintuitive one of the best ways to maintain productivity is to intentionally do nothing at all.

When you’re working on building something whether it’s your career, your family, or a personal project, it’s easy to convince yourself that you should push as hard as you can and give it your all. I saw early on, that if I worked and offered myself to others every day, I would burn out, undoing all of the hundreds of hours of work I had poured in already.

I noticed my weekends were spent trying to catch up from my week, only barely regenerating my energy stores. Week after week, I was slowly losing steam. Hanging out with friends felt like a drain since I didn’t really have the energy to be fully present with them. It was awful to not be able to fully enjoy my play time with loved ones from being overextended. At the peak of my exhaustion, I started building in solotrips as a more extreme way of removing myself from the demands of others. Knowing this wasn’t how I wanted to move through the world, I listened closely to the signals my body and mind were sharing with me. I needed to build in more rest in a sustainable way.

Through careful planning, a little reorganization of my schedule, setting some clear expectations with myself and others, and some open-minded experimentation, I found a formula that works for me. I give myself 2 days that I keep wide open from personal and professional obligations each week: Wednesday and Sunday.

Wednesday’s break up my work week nicely. It’s a day dedicated to diving deeper into projects that scheduled appointments would otherwise interrupt. It’s a day in the week where I may not leave the house. I am empowered by choice throughout my day. If what I need that week is a little jaunt out of town to free up my creative juices then I have the space in my week to do so.

Sundays, on the other hand, are 100% work-free. They’re dedicated to rest and are protected time for me and my fiancé. Perhaps we decide to go for a hike or maybe we stay home and work in the garden. But having a weekend day that has 0 obligations is deeply restoring before going into a well-structured, busy week.

Only rarely do I schedule anything for these days. I’m available 5 days a week so I do everything in my power to schedule for then. Sometimes I miss out on some cool opportunities because an event lands on those days but it’s a choice I get to make and more often than not, I’d rather honor my intentional solitude.

This whole experiment started with just Sundays but with such jam-packed weeks, I decided to play with opening up a work day to be commitment-free. It wasn’t easy at first.  Wednesdays are particularly challenging as it’s more unconventional to be unavailable on a weekday. It took time and confidence to start protecting these days. I don’t know many people who set such clear boundaries in their week so I needed to give myself the permission to follow through with this idea.

To keep these appointment-free days on my agenda, I mark them on my calendar. I set time aside for me. If someone wants my time and attention on these days, I have to actively schedule over it.

Because I’ve stayed consistent, the people around me know those days are off-limits. I have found that sharing why those days are protected can spark some inspiration. They start to wonder if they too can enact such a personal policy. Spoiler alert: they can and you can, too.

The reality is, when I intentionally manage my schedule and energy, I’m more present and available on the other five days because I’m not exhausted from overextension. I can dive deeper into projects, conversations, and rest. I spend less time recovering because I’m not burning myself out until I collapse. 

Only I can protect this time, no one else will. And now that I’ve experienced the positive feelings and seen the creative and productive rewards of setting this time aside each week, I can’t imagine going back. These are days to use as I please, a delightfully refreshing feeling in such a hyper-connected existence.

I encourage you to look at how your week is structured and find ways to build in your own quality time with you. Maybe you only need one day, maybe you need 4. Trust what your body and mind are telling you and find ways to take care of them with some mindful time management.

Sondra Firestein

CEO / Lead Visionary

I’m a happyseeker on the path of self-discovery. As the founder of Pursuit Concierge, my life is all about exploring fulfillment and connecting awesome people.

A few of my favorite things include eating, sleeping, tender moments with my kitty cat, falling deep into conversation, and soaking up knowledge from a good book.

Say hi on my personal Instagram.