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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

February 27, 2024 - 10:28am --

I keep busy, and I like it that way, but there are times when I want a day to do nothing. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like, but it’s how I am determined to spend my extra day this year.

2024 is Leap Year, meaning it has one extra day - Feb. 29 - on the calendar. Leap Year happens every four years to align the calendar with the Earth’s rotation around the sun. So, can we find ways to make that extra day count?

In researching Leap Day, I discovered the National Day Calendar also names it as Time Refund Day. Inspired by Tax Day, it operates on the principle whereby we put something aside and reclaim it later. It celebrates that one day every four years when we get back something notoriously hard to reclaim - time.

While doing nothing can mean something different for everyone, for me, it means stepping away from daily work responsibilities - or even thoughts of them - and spending the day on hobby related activities, or simply just sitting outside and enjoying my rural surroundings.

Doing nothing is good for the brain

Andrew Brodsky, assistant professor of management at the University of Texas, says there are benefits to moving away from demanding tasks and self-imposed pressures and instead allowing the brain to switch to inconsequential thinking. Doing nothing offers our brains the ability to recover, he said. Detaching from constant stimulation or stressful experiences can help reduce stress and renew energy, leaving us better equipped to handle work or life challenges.

Additionally, he said, doing nothing allows our minds to wander or ruminate, which has shown to be valuable for creativity because it allows our brain’s space to generate solutions to problems we are facing.

Some people may recharge on their extra day by accomplishing a particular task such as spring cleaning, organizing a closet or drawer or reorganizing a room. Sorting and decluttering can be deeply satisfying.

Here are some other ways to make the most of that extra 24 hours this year:

  • Make it a volunteer day. So many organizations count on volunteers to accomplish their missions. You don’t have to look far to find a place to fill a need. It could be a neighbor who could use a helping hand or ride to a doctor’s appointment.
  • Make time for someone. Call that friend you’ve offered to grab coffee or lunch with and set a date. Check on a family member you haven’t spoken to for a while. Do you have friends far away? Call them. Mark it on your calendar to remind yourself to follow through.
  • Tackle a bucket list item. This year is the perfect time to cross off one of those things on the list you keep stored away in your mind or on a piece of paper.
  • Make it a gratitude day. Take time to write a handwritten note to someone who has made a difference in your life or shown you acts of kindness.
  • Take a break from social media and the computer. We all need to step away from the digital world for a while and reset from time to time.    
  • Celebrate Leap Day by making a time capsule with your family to open in four years. Have your children write a list of their favorites (colors, television shows, games, activities, friends, foods, songs) along with a description of what they want to be when they grow up. Include pictures and handprints and a newspaper.

Sure, you can do any of these activities any day of the year, but the uniqueness of Leap Day makes it something special. And you may find it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Laurie Sidle is an Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H program assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.