With summer upon us, I wanted to write, as I did last summer at this time, about the importance of taking time off from work.
I was fortunate to have participated for many years in Strategic Coach, a personal and professional development program where I learned, among many other things, the importance of taking time off from work.
I embraced the Strategic Coach concept of Free Days, days when I did absolutely nothing related to my job, after learning how important time is for rejuvenation—and that we will be more productive at work if we take time off than if we do not.
A recent article in Fast Company provided many of the same ideas that under-gird the concept of Free Days. A few of the highlights:
- Working on vacation because you are afraid your team or colleagues won’t do the work well enough you are gone is a red flag: you are micromanaging. I will add, it may mean you have the wrong team members. Either way, do something about that.
- Vacation is not the opposite of work, but rather is in and of itself, a different kind of work, says Sarah Greenberg, lead coach at BetterUp, a coaching platform. Allowing your mind to wander, for instance, can be helpful for future planning, creativity, and learning. Vacation opens our eyes to new places, new people, and new ideas. It gives our minds and bodies a break and enables us to return to work in a more positive state.
- Asking if you can work through vacation and keep balance is similar to being asked whether you really need to bring in your car for an oil change once the warning light flashes, says Sarah Greenberg. “In the short term, you’ll save time by not stopping for vehicle maintenance,” she says. “But if you go too long without a tune-up, you can’t expect your vehicle to last as long, nor operate at its full potential. Vacation is crucial to well-being.”
That last bullet reminds me of the seventh of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people. In a nutshell, the concept of “Sharpen the Saw” is this: the person who is cutting down trees without taking breaks to sharpen the saw (and to rejuvenate herself) will not be as effective as the person who sharpens the saw.
How are you making sure you get rejuvenated?