Who has time to take a break? You do…see how

male criticMany people working in today’s overtime corporate culture think taking time off means squandering opportunities, losing business, or wasting money. 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.

In 2006 Expedia reported that 36% of people polled don’t plan on using all their paid vacation days, and 37% never take more than a week off at a time.

Many of my clients report that they don’t have time to take time off, that’s there’s too much work and not enough time. Some even pride themselves on taking off as little time as possible, believing they are perceived by bosses and coworkers to be more valuable by striving to be indispensable.

chairSo Why Take Breaks Then? 
Taking breaks allows you to:

  • Avoid burnout
  • Find a fresh perspective
  • Create space to generate new ideas
  • Reward yourself for all your hard work
  • Improve your mental health

 

But I have no time to take a break…or do I?

 

How to Give Yourself a Break
Since it can be a challenge to take time off, here are 10 strategies that can help:

  1. Delegate. Believe it or not, 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 or can strive to implement a support team in place to temporarily hand over the reins.
  2. 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.
  3. Go local. No money? The best things in life are free and often in your own back yard. Try a “staycation”: vacation at aix_market_vegetable_provencehome. 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.
  4. Work ahead. Working a couple of extra hours each week leading up to taking your break can provide a head start upon your return.
  5. 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. Being organized will also help others help you with your work while you’re gone.
  6. 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.
  7. Use a calendar. Marking off long weekends, holidays and vacation weeks for the entire year creates a road map of work and time off.
  8. Plan for and take wellness days. If your job allows you to use sick leave for an occasional “wellness” day—by all means do so. If you are the boss, allot a certain number of wellness days a year, and put them on your calendar. An occasional day of “hooky” will do wonders for your energy, creativity, and motivation.
  9. Use your sick days when you are sick. It may sound obvious to stay home when sick, but many of us do not listen to our bodies and continue work when sick. Whether you are the boss or an employee, if you’re feeling under the weather, you are usually better off taking a sick day and staying in bed than pushing through when you’re not at your best. Your coworkers and employees will also thank you for not exposing them to your germs.
  10. 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. If you are guilty of constantly trying to fit “just one more thing” in before heading out somewhere else, make it a resolution to allow yourself another 15-20 minutes more than you think you really need to get to where you’re going. If you end up arriving early, use that time to meditate, do some deep breathing, or even just read a People magazine (if that’s your guilty pleasure)—you’ll find it time well spent.

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Whether you run a multi-million-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.

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