1. Careers
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Things to Do on a Furlough Day


Man drinking tea and reading book in living room
Astronaut Images / Caiaimage / Getty Images

When organizations furlough employees, they force them to take unpaid leave. This is a frustrating and worrisome experience for employees. While the time off is nice, the corresponding pay cut is not. Employees have no choice in the matter, so they must make the best of the situation. If you happen to be furloughed, here are some things you can do on your furlough days.


Furloughs are stressful for employees. Uncertainty in an employee’s professional life has a direct impact on the employee’s personal life. Take some time to relax. Whatever it is that slows your heart rate or makes you breathe easier, do that. Even if it is just an hour a day, relaxation is essential to not working yourself into a tizzy dwelling on the furlough and its impact on you and your family. Also, try to get a good night’s rest.

Complete Household Chores

When you work a full-time job, household chores can get away from you. After working an eight-plus hour day, the last thing you want to do is clean your baseboards or mow the lawn. While you have the energy, complete those household tasks you never seem to have time to do.

Look for a New Job

If you’ve been furloughed, there are obviously some difficult decisions your organization’s leadership is facing. Maybe a furlough is the best possible option for the organization to implement, or maybe the organization bungled some decisions leading up to the furlough. Either way, your organization and your job is not as stable as you would like it to be.

You do a disservice to yourself if you don’t look at what is available in the job market. You can bet that most of your fellow furloughed employees are looking for more stable jobs. The organization is bound to lose some of its best employees, and you may be one of them.

Earn a Second Income

You obviously have to look at your monthly expenses when you get furloughed. More likely than not, you trim back your spending on non-essential things. But you can also add income. You can use the time you would have been working to do other work. Your organization has just given you the gift of time, and as the saying goes, time is money.

Learn Something

Whether you’ve wanted to take a cooking class, read the latest book on leadership or wipe the dust off the language learning software you bought five years ago, you have the time to add to your knowledge. Your learning can be work-related or for pleasure. It’s up to you.


You may have been able to volunteer at charitable organizations on nights and weekends, but perhaps they need help during the day. You have a unique skillset, and can help with tasks that others may not be able to do. If you work in an office, you can help a nonprofit with behind-the-scenes work while others work directly with those the charity serves.

Take a Trip

While you may be pinching pennies to get by with smaller paychecks, a furlough’s time off gives you the freedom to hit the road. You probably won’t spend two weeks in Hawaii, but you could take a road trip or see the sights in your own town that visitors flock to but you take for granted.


Few people get the exercise they need, and even fewer realize just how important health is to their job performance. If you struggle like most people to squeeze in a few workouts per week, use a furlough day to make up for a missed exercise session.

Cook Meals Ahead of Time

Like exercise, busy working people do not feel like they have time to cook healthy meals for their families. They find themselves in the drive-thru line more often than they’d like to admit. There are an abundance of websites devoted to cooking and freezing meals that will keep in the freezer. There are even people who cook one day per month, store their prepared meals and reheat them before mealtime. You don’t have to go to this extreme, but a few meals stored in the freezer means fewer fast food burgers.

Indulge in Your Hobbies

Whether you like golf, reading, knitting, puzzles or some other hobby, you can use furlough time to lose yourself in it. It seems like there is never enough time to do your hobbies. While you have this time, you might as well enjoy some of it.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.