Today is the Day to Goof Off (Really)

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA


When Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher, Ben Stein, asked whether he was in class, we already knew that Ferris was faking a sick day so that he and his buddies could have an epic day of exploring Chicago on Von Steuben Day.

And epic it was. I loved when his friend, Cameron, sat staring at George Seurat’s unique pointillism painting at the Chicago Art Institute.

Today is National Goof Off Day (NGOD), which sounds like a bad thing to do in our work and productivity-focused world.  Yet, a recent cover story in this month’s Harvard Business Review by Adam Waytz discussed how our American work ethic often creates a worthless metric of busyness over productivity.

I recognized it in myself when a colleague asked me how I was doing, and I told them I was swamped and shared about my different projects. He said, “Good for you; sounds like you are busy!”

I am, but so what. A more robust response, on my part, would be about what is most exciting, challenging, and essential and what brings value to my clients.

So, let’s rethink this…

The idea behind NGOD asks whether there is value to doing nothing or perhaps doing something that is distinctive from our normal day. Perhaps, Winnie the Pooh said it best when he shared, “doing nothing leads to some of the very best things.”

We don’t take much thinking time with our very full work schedules and family obligations and as that HBR article suggests, we view our lives as successful when our schedules leave little time for idleness. Even worse, in today’s constant screen time world, even a break in our usual activities has us checking our messages or our latest social media feeds.

Taking time away from our work and lives revitalizes us. Research clearly shows that we are not built for constant thinking. Our minds need a break to restore and refresh and if we are in a constant go-go mode, the result leads to high stress and burn out.

While it may be challenging to take today off, here are some ways to give yourself time to just take some time

  • Go for a walk and listen to a podcast about something other than your work.
  • Reach out to a friend or colleague and invite them to lunch. Use the time to catch up on each other’s lives.
  • Knock off early and go pick up your daughter or son at school or make a surprise visit to their athletic event.
  • Take a break and head to your favorite museum or garden for an hour.
  • Pull up one of my Resilient Mindfulness programs. It’s just 10 minutes and an easy way to get away from your regular day.

Ferris took his day off and wound up leading the band through a rendition of Danke Schoen. Who knows what great things will happen for you, when you take time to goof off but I can guarantee you that it will be fun. Enjoy today!

© Richard Citrin 2023

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