It might seem counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that if you want to be more productive, you should take some time off work. Ahhh if only it were that easy! Many employers offer paid time off (PTO) as part of the benefits package, but set roadblocks to actually accessing that time. Or perhaps you work in an industry where you wear your overtime hours like a badge of pride. Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to recharge your batteries if you want to avoid burnout.
Take a mini-break: Can’t stand the idea of leaving your desk for an entire week? Try taking a Friday and Monday off to give yourself an extra-long weekend. Once you figure out that the world didn’t stop spinning, you’ll be more comfortable with taking a week or more at a time.
Turn off your phone: Let people know that you won’t be checking messages, and stick to it. If you’re responding to emails and returning phone messages, then you’re not really on vacation, you’re just telecommuting. Seriously. Turn it off.
Dealing with blackout dates: I think this is one of the worst HR policies that organizations can institute. It’s like winning a fabulous vacation to a tropical island that you can only take in the dog days of summer. Other than the scenery, what’s the point? Employers think that by restricting PTO during the height of busy season that they’re going to increase productivity, but all they are really doing is increasing the likelihood of burnout because they aren’t allowing you to take a break away from the chaos. If this sounds like your workplace and you really need a break, try approaching your manager to discuss the policy. Provided that you won’t miss deadlines, you might be able to make a case for it. If the policy is written in stone, try inserting those mini-breaks during this time so you can make it through.
Find your happiness: Work can be stressful, even when you love what you do. Taking time away from it can help you remember what you love about it. You’ll be energized and more engaged when you return to the office and that will translate into productivity.
Whether you vacation or staycation (staying at home), take the time to relax, laugh, and enjoy that work life balance that we all strive for and mostly miss. You’ll feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
And for those of you wondering (thanks for the emails to firstname.lastname@example.org), yes I’ve taken my own advice here and taken some time off to recharge. Next time I’ll put up a sign to let you know.
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