Today’s professional climate is one that demands employee commitment and attention every moment of the work week. As a community, working Americans strive so hard to reach this demand that we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into every project and/or task without thinking about the affect the stress load has on our personal lives. Work becomes a part of the personal and we are no longer able to separate “life” time from “work” time. We become overworked, overtired, and lose sight of what makes us passionate about the work in the first place. This routine is not sustainable.
In addition to our demanding schedules, Americans today fear the idea of asking for and taking time off. We fear the reaction from our overseers. We fear our colleagues will doubt our work ethic. We fear falling behind and the weight of getting caught up. We fear all kinds of things without considering how the benefits might outweigh these fears.
Ultimately, time off does one important thing; initiate the space and time to recharge. We burn ourselves out regularly and have learned to believe it’s “just part of the job.” Yet, if this is true, we must also allow ourselves the time to charge back up. We have forgotten that this time is also “just part of the job” and perhaps the secret to finding sustainability within the workplace. Below, I would like to point out some tips as to how vacation time can improve your work time.
Rest initiates brain production - According to the Entrepreneur online Magazine, overuse of the brain sets off “strain reactions,” leading to stress, negative mood and energy, as well as intense fatigue. Since our cognitive resources are not unlimited, we need to give our brains the chance to catch up. The key to this? Rest. This is not just sleep, but taking quality time off from being constantly “on” within the office. Whether it’s a vacation or taking on less hours at work and more at home, this “off” time will wildly change your game at when your “on”.
Improves your relationship with your personal life - Spending time away from work allows us the opportunity to reconnect with the parts of our personal lives that we often miss out on. Whether this is friendships, family, or simply the relationships with ourselves - by carving out specific time to be without work, we place more value on the personal and improve ourselves as a whole.
Creates a sense of presence - When we allow ourselves time off away from work, we are also allowing ourselves to stop sharing our time. No longer will our personal lives suffer from interruptions by work calls and/or emails, nor is our time at work interrupted by our personal lives. If we can force enough time in both areas, ultimately we become more present employees as well as people.
The current intensity of work culture is one that is unsustainable in the long term. If work hasn’t completely burnt us out by retirement, we are resentful of it at the very least. Time off may very well be the simplest way to avoid this resentment and maintain passion for our work. This passion is the driving force towards sustaining a fulfilling long-term career - and the secret to finding it just may be as simple as learning to relax.