Why is just so hard to take time off of work? Is it really hard to take time off of work or do we make it hard on ourselves to take the time off? Despite reading many studies like this study from UMASS as well as this article on the impact to the workplace regarding how important it is to take time off, we just don’t. More so, US Citizens/Americans in general, overall we take off much less time from work than our counterparts abroad this study explores this point in The No Vacation Nation by Harvard.
My belief, without coming off as judgmental, is that people fear taking time off. They fear someone seeing that they are not perfect. They think someone will think they can’t handle it because they need to take a break. As a leader, I see this quite the contrary, I see it as you are a micro-manager, can’t let anyone in on “your turf”, or you quite frankly have something you don’t want anyone else to see. I have seen individuals over the years not take time off and I can tell you, they are not as productive as though that take the time to refresh, restart. Those that don’t take the time off are those that don’t come up with new ideas or experience things we can incorporate on our own work environment to just be better.
Being a parent and holding a full-time career in hospitality taught me a lot on this, I learned how to take time off. While the time I took off was from work as I did not always have the luxury to take time off from being a mom, it was time away nonetheless. Let’s think about the actual taking of time off. Time off from work does not mean you have to take an extravagant vacation, let’s face it, sometimes the means are not there for this. “Staycations”are amazing as well as just taking the time to rest, decompress, do something for yourself, or finish a project at home. This reset in your routine and turning off of our brain can actually cause you to be better in the end (cite a study/source). In my situation, I also learned how to not only take time off in “peak” times. Really plan the time off, don’t wait until right before school is off then request time off in the summer when some already have this time off and you are not likely to be able to. Planning in “non-peak” times also helps financially, there are so many great deals to be had if you can travel when most other people are not.
So you say, I don’t want to take the time off because it is just so hard to get caught up, this applies to every single type of work I have known anyone at all to have. Well, I say, stop looking at it from a negative place and learn ways to make the catch up easier.
- On your first day back, take it slow, I am sure you have an idea of what you have waiting for you, take it slow. Water cooler or coffee talk, talk to people. When you are filling them in on your time off and what you did, it will come up in conversation what happened while you were out. Tip- you are also strengthening your relationships.
- Hopefully, you had someone covering you, while you were out, if this is necessary in your role. Check in with them and ask how things went, generally, how things went, not just tasks. This is a great opportunity for you to have someone provide you feedback on how you can make your role more efficient or just better. Don’t take offense when they poked holes in your work. Thank them for covering and the feedback.
- Email, oh my email…..where do you even start? Here is my trick.
- Sort the entire inbox by conversation
- Immediately delete anything that is not relevant
- the item was time sensitive so it may have been answered verbally or in another manner
- ads have crept in your box, don’t waste your time on these
- recaps that are no longer needed
- Scan the conversations and be sure no one has answered outside of the thread, once you have done this, delete the emails keeping the most current and focus on reading that one to catch up
- Resist the impulse to answer things quickly
- Re-sort your box to the date it was received
- Start ticking away
When catching up it is important to not get burnt out from catching up from the time you took off because you felt you were burnt out or close to being so. Take time to prioritize and plan how you will catch up, with this, it won’t feel so overwhelming and you will seem amazingly productive.
Now, go plan some time off of work!
**Purple word hyper-links are published studies by Harvard, UMASS, and The Society for Human Resource Management** Also below: