5 ways to use your time off like experts do to prep for a productive week

Sir Richard Branson
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Having a day off from work can serve as the perfect excuse to lounge around. Or it could be prime time for productivity.

Instead of using your downtime hitting snooze or binge-watching your latest Netflix addiction, use some of those hours to prep for a productive week ahead.

Clean up your inbox

Give yourself a solid head start to the work week by taking a little bit of time on your day off to purge your inbox.

After billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk wakes up at 7 a.m., he takes 30 minutes to address what he calls "critical emails," according to Glassdoor. The billionaire also recommends prioritizing in order to stay productive throughout the day.

"Focus on signal over noise. Don't waste time on stuff that doesn't actually make things better," Musk says.

If gutting your inbox sounds like an insurmountable task, take a cue from workplace expert Leah Stringer, who tries to cut down on future clutter by writing fewer emails and keeping those short and snappy.

"If it's an open-ended question, an in-depth question or a complex question that requires back and forth banter, it's probably worth a phone call," Stringer tells CNBC Make It. "You think it's faster communicating over email but it can actually be a time suck."

Start a bullet journal

Bullet journaling has taken the internet by storm — check out the over 1 million #bulletjournal Instagram posts — because it is a great way to prime yourself for productivity.

A bullet journal is "analog system" created to "track the past, organize the present and plan for the future," the bullet journal's creator, Ryder Carroll, explains in a tutorial video on the official website. The journal itself you can create from blank pages, as opposed to purchasing a store-bought agenda with days and months already carved out. "It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above," the website states.

Use your day off watching tutorial videos, busting out bright pens and notebooks and try out a bullet journal. It might just be your new, secret weapon to success.

"Bullet journaling helps you de-clutter your mind in a very meaningful, consistent way," Carroll tells CNBC Make It. "I feel like that's something we could all use a little bit more."

Feeling stressed? Try these science-backed ways to battle anxiety
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Squeeze in a workout

One activity that a slew of successful CEOs swear by? Working out.

Billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says that he routinely wakes up at 5 a.m. to be able to squeeze in some exercise.

"Getting up and at it early gives me time to get on top of things, and chart my day effectively," Branson writes in a blog post.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also touts the value of physical fitness, and says, "doing anything well requires energy," and notes that you have a lot more energy when you're fit.

In a 2015 Facebook Q&A, Zuckerberg shared a glimpse into his workout routine.

"I make sure I work out at least three times a week — usually first thing when I wake up. I also try to take my dog running whenever I can, which has the added bonus of being hilarious because that basically like seeing a mop run," Zuckerberg wrote.

Having a day off from work gives you plenty of time to hit the gym, park or an exercise class, and can prep you physically and mentally for the upcoming work week.

Easy pasta bakes that will save time and money
Easy pasta bakes that will save time and money

Meal prep for the week ahead

Preparing your meals for the week ahead is not only a way to ensure you'll max out your productivity at meal time, and it can also serve as a way to save some serious money. The average American household spend up to $3,008 per year on restaurant meals and takeout, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Instead of forking over all that cash during the week on food, use your day off to whip up a few meals for the week ahead, whether it's a tasty, chicken tikka masala dish or a simple pasta bake.


Don't forget to indulge in a little self-care with your day off! Wrapping up — or kicking off — your day off with some decompression time can boost your mood, ultimately leading to a more productive week. Take the time to do something that decompresses you, whether it's taking a bubble bath, cracking open a book or going for a walk.

CEO of LinkedIn Jeff Weiner emphasizes the importance of "scheduling nothing" in a LinkedIn post.

"Use that buffer time to think big, catch up on the latest industry news, get out from under that pile of unread emails, or just take a walk," Weiner writes. "Whatever you do, just make sure you make that time for yourself — everyday and in a systematic way — and don't leave unscheduled moments to chance. The buffer is the best investment you can make in yourself and the single most important productivity tool I use."

Many successful leaders, including Oprah Winfrey and Arianna Huffington, also swear by meditation, which studies have shown can help ease psychological stresses such as anxiety, depression and pain.

"That outside world is constantly trying to convince you you're not enough," Winfrey writes in a blog post. "But you don't have to take the bait. Meditation, in whatever form you choose, helps you resist."

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How to boost your productivity like Richard Branson
How to boost your productivity like Richard Branson