Time for Time Off?

Making sure you take time for yourself can lead to a healthier work life

Back Web Only Jun 9, 2017 By Kelly Azevedo

The weather is heating up around Sacramento and if the number of boats on our rivers are any indication, summer vacation is already in full swing. You might be watching your PTO accumulate at the same pace as your to-do list and wonder if you’ll get any time off this summer. Make sure you spend some of your daylight hours out of the office for your physical and mental health.

If you need a better reason than being “tired” for taking time off, here are four ways to structure your vacation time that benefit you and your employer.

1. Friday Funday

If you can negotiate it, plan to take half or full days off on Fridays until Labor Day to enjoy longer weekends. Knowing you have only four days to work can increase productivity and even help you eliminate the busywork that tends to fill extra time.

I’ve found that many colleagues take Fridays off, especially as the weather heats up, so time spent working can be increasingly unproductive and frustrating. Much better to start refreshed and ready on Monday. An added bonus to your free Fridays is the ability to get personal chores done faster by avoiding weekend crowds so your Saturday and Sunday can be spent relaxing, not catching up on errands.

2. Unconference

We all have topics we’d love to spend more time learning for professional, or personal, development that seem to get pushed to the bottom of our to-do list. Yet, if our managers decided that a conference would benefit the company we’d be off on that plane faster than you can say “expense report” and miraculously the office would survive the departure.

Instead of booking yourself into a conference this summer, take some time off for personal development and training. Brainstorm some books or industry journals that you can catch up on, online courses or trainings to work through or commit yourself to improving your networking game. The possibilities here are endless so think outside the box to becoming a better speaker, learning meditation to focus your mind, studying personality types to be a more effective manager or learning new software — these are all skills that brings value to your business.

However, depending on how closely related your studies are to your job responsibilities, you may need to use PTO if your employer doesn’t grant the time for training and development. While your employer may not pay for the experience, having a little space to explore can be the reset you need. The best part is you don’t need to travel or spend all your time off sitting in a hotel ballroom taking notes off a PowerPoint presentation. Plan to set aside 2-3 hours a day just for learning and enjoy the rest of your time off as usual.

3. Early Retirement

Consider how you want to spend your golden years and begin incorporating those activities into your life now. If you’ve always dreamed of moving to the beach and taking up surfing, then rent a beach house for the week and explore nearby communities in a form of research. Prefer to volunteer with a charity? Take an early day once a week to dedicate some of your time to volunteering opportunities so you discover what organizations strike your fancy.  Do you want to babysit your grandkids someday? Invest in your relationship with your children now and spend time together regularly.

Practicing for retirement doesn’t require taking off the whole summer and living off your savings — you can schedule time off a day or week at a time to intentionally begin living the life you want when work is done. Because, of course, the work will never be truly done. There’s always another client, shipment or request waiting for you and if you try to get “all caught up” before taking time off then it’ll never happen.

4. Doctors Orders

It’s no secret that Americans work more than any other industrialized country and we’re also leading the world in obesity with the numbers growing every year. We may know  the stats and solutions, but the sticking point is often the same: time. This summer is a great opportunity to take time off to focus on your health.

While we most often think of time off as space to relax, scheduling a later start time so you can attend a morning yoga class twice a week or taking longer lunches to fit in a run might be the best time you can give yourself. Use some of that time to enroll at your gym, pick up a sport or shop and cook healthier foods for your family. Or, combine that backlog of household chores with your goal to move more by working in the garden, painting, washing your car and deep cleaning the kitchen.

Improving your physical health can also improve your mental facilities, mood and reduce the number of sick days you experience the rest of the year. And consider this: if you break your leg you’d be given immediate clearance to leave work and see a doctor. The chronic and persistent pains that you might experience mentally are just as important to resolve.

No matter how you approach time off this season, make time for it. You contribute your most and best when you’re well rested, healthy and expanding your skills.