Let me paint a picture…and decide if it defines you a bit too well, or someone you know well:
You wake up in the morning and out of habit, grab your smartphone next to your bed to check your emails. In the evening, you clean up dinner, put the kids to bed, and then settle in with your laptop to get another hour or two of work done. The weekend rolls around and your spouse and kids keep chastising you for checking your phone for work emails, or even worse…taking work calls.
So I ask the question: How much time OFF will you take this year?
Let’s begin by defining a “day off”. I define this as the time from when you wake up to the time you go to sleep. It means an entire day of no work activity, no checking work emails, and answering work-related calls, reading work-related materials, and even no writing down that genius idea you just had.
With this definition in mind, decide now how many days off you will take this year. Here’s a hint: if you actually took the entire weekend off, that would add up to 104 days typically. Assuming you have two weeks of paid vacation you take, and you commit to making it a true vacation and not simply “working remotely”, that might add another 10 days. This gets you to 114. But figure out your number now, and write it down.
Why is this so important?
First, rejuvenation. I want to retrain you on how to view time off from work. Taking time off is no longer a reward for killing yourself the prior five days, five weeks, or five months. Taking time off is a requirement to be at your best when you are at work AND when you are at home.
With this definition in mind, you owe it to your co-workers, your boss, and most importantly, your family. Taking a full weekend off, or a week of vacation somewhere, with absolutely no work, will rejuvenate you and help you show up to work rested and creative…ready to solve those difficult problems and be much more productive.
Speaking of productivity, let’s move on to the second reason taking real time off is so important. Look at your number of days off you wrote down. For the sake of this lesson, let’s assume you wrote down 114. This means you have 251 days left in the year to accomplish all of your work-related goals. Suddenly your mind realized you don’t have as much time as you thought and that you’d better get a move on. No more excuses for wasted days. No more time for not maximizing every day you’re at work, getting the most out of each day and from each teammate or employee you supervise.
We all know that we are most productive the days leading up to a vacation. When time is scarce, it’s amazing how productive we become. On the other hand, when we know we have all day or all week to get something done, we are automatically less focused and less determined, and more open to allowing interruptions and distractions into our day.
By first committing to taking “X” number of days off, you’ve now tricked your mind into realizing you have no choice but to get more done at work in less time. And it works. Now you’re more productive at work, which then frees you up to actually take more time off!