If you think like me then taking time off means squandering opportunities, losing business or wasting money; and chances are pretty good that your boss thinks the same way. But, if it’s done right, taking time off can actually provide more energy, add a new perspective to old situations and increase effectiveness.
If you’re one of those people who don’t take all the time off you need, you’re not alone.
According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off study, “State of American Vacation 2018,” more than half of Americans are still not using all the vacation time they earn, a figure virtually unchanged for the previous few years and sharply higher than a decade ago.
Why Do We Need Breaks?
Taking breaks allows you to:
- Avoid burnout
- Find a fresh perspective
- Create space to generate new ideas
- Give yourself a pat on the back with a reward
- Improve your mental health
How to Give Yourself a Break
Since it can be a challenge to take time off, here are 10 strategies that can help:
- Delegate. People are willing to help you achieve your respite from work. If you’re an employee, coworkers can cover your back — just make sure to give them and your boss enough notice. If you are an entrepreneur you likely have a support team in place to temporarily hand the reins.
- Plan ahead. What stops many people from taking a break is money (or, more accurately, the lack of it). It’s difficult to enjoy time off when you’re worried about every nickel. This is why planning is critical. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your salary that goes directly into a high-interest savings account. It may surprise you how little you miss that money every month.
- Go local. No money? The best things in life are free and often in your own back yard. Try a “staycation”: vacation at home. Visit a local farmers market, have a picnic, read your favorite author or swing in a hammock. The key here is to set boundaries around work (a closed door to your home office is an amazingly easy boundary to respect), so that you aren’t tempted to fire up the computer.
- Work ahead. Working a couple of extra hours each week leading up to taking your break can provide a head start upon your return.
- Organize. Organizing and de-cluttering the office space is a great idea. There’s nothing more discouraging than returning from your relaxing break to find a cluttered mess.
- Use your points. Use points accumulated on your credit card or rewards program to reward yourself “free” of charge.
- Let go. It can be tough to hear, but it’s true — most of us are not indispensable. Accepting that fact can actually be liberating and lift a weight off weary, overburdened shoulders.
- Use a calendar. Marking off long weekends, holidays and vacation weeks for the entire year creates a road map of time off and work.
- Plan for and take sick days. If you are your own boss, you may recall the “good ole” days of calling in sick (even if you weren’t). Now that you’re the boss, you never get sick, right? Of course you do. So plan for it. Decide how many sick days to give yourself and then record them, and keep track of them, on your calendar. That way you’re more likely to give yourself permission to take a break when you need it. Also, whether you are the boss or an employee, if you’re feeling under the weather, you are probably better off taking a sick day and staying in bed than pushing through when you’re not at your best.
- Don’t rush it. Rushing off to the airport right out of the office is asking for stress. Finishing up that last bit of work before getting into rush-hour traffic shoots up anxiety levels when you should be winding down.
Whether you run a multimillion-dollar company or work for one, everyone needs regular breaks. Not taking time off is like not taking time to sleep—willpower and adrenaline only take you so far. There really is no excuse for not taking a break. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to help increase your value.
Feeling like you need some work/life balance and not sure how to go about it? Click the button “SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION” at the top of this page and let’s chat!