Time Off - More than just work/life balance
It seems that we don’t have time-off anymore. We Americans have always struggled with taking real vacations like our European counterparts - and I honestly don’t think a whole month off is a good idea for most of us, or for the primary working years. I believe that the work ethic of the American people is what has driven this country to be great. But - Americans only use 25% of their allotted paid time off, and that’s a little crazy. There’s a lot to be said for balance here, and there are very positive pieces to having some real time off.
Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs time to just relax, breathe and recharge. It is important to our overall productivity, and more important to our mental health and overall well-being. But in our ever-connected world we never really seem to get a break anymore. The Millennials who are now a major factor in the work place have led the way in winning us the flexibility to work whenever and from wherever we want. This new way of work is refreshing and liberating. Where it gets in the way is when we try to get away. When we are supposed to be on vacation. Often times is seems as if others feel that you are still available to work when they want you to work. They want it now. I have tried to put into place a vacation or time away chart for our office and had it color coded so that people know when you are out of the area and when you are gone if you are or are not available to work. My thought was that we can work from anywhere some of the time, this would help people to put boundaries on their time and allow others to know those boundaries. Respectful to all right? As long as everyone respects others time, this works.
The data on the importance of time-off is real. Read the Executive Summary from a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) for Project: Time Off. Nothing can lead to an anxiety attack faster than working a million days all in a row. Even if that is just simply checking email for a short moment. You are still robbing your brain of time away. Taking even one day off can help reset yourself mentally, and make it easier to have a clear head once back at work. According to Minda Zetlin on INC.com, "A growing body of scientific evidence explains what many of us have learned from unpleasant experience: Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult ... you need to give your brain, and yourself, some rest.” Time off enhances creativity and productivity. As Timi Gustafson, R.D., noted on the Huffington Post, "Forward-thinking companies like Google are well known for their efforts to enhance creativity by giving employees time off to pursue ideas of their own, regardless the outcome. Some of their most successful innovations have come out of that policy.”
So take time off. Real time off. You will be better for it all around.