Whether it’s because you love your job so much that you never want to stop working, or because you feel like it just isn’t possible to take time away from work, I’m here to tell you that a day off is good for you. If we don’t take breaks, we end up less creative, less focused, and less healthy.
I’m here this week to encourage you to make time in your life to relax, enjoy your friends and family, and read a good book. Trust me, your employer will thank you.
I often refer my overworked clients (which is most of them, to be honest) to a Harvard Business Review article that spells out the benefits of downtime. What I find compelling is that in addition to improving productivity, downtime can even have positive effects on your physical health.
You know when it’s getting towards the end of the day, and you’ve just finished something up? Go home early! Enjoy a job well done. Those few minutes off will help you be more ready to get things done tomorrow.
Do you eat lunch at your desk while scrolling through email? Try going for a walk or squeezing in a quick workout instead. It will help clear your mind and have better focus for the rest of the day.
Create Rituals and Routines
Just like you schedule and keep your dentist appointments, you can schedule downtime. Set aside a few nights a week that are work free, and make sure you get vacations on your calendar. Doesn’t matter what you do or where you go, as long as you unplug from work.
Get in the habit of leaving your laptop at work if you don’t have specific tasks that you need to get done. Plug your phone in for the night (ideally not in your bedroom!) as early as possible.
I know lots of people say they don’t have time to read, but if six minutes of reading time can reduce your stress by 68%, I would argue you don’t have time not to. If you stop doing one last email check before bed and crack open a book instead, you’ll be less stressed and likely sleep better.
Just as I was putting together this post, I came across this opinion piece from the New York Times. It tells the story of a German technology startup that has five-hour workdays and doesn’t allow their employees to work in their off-hours.
The founder, Lasse Reinghans, is betting that if we reduce the number of distractions and time spent talking about work instead of doing it, we’ll get a lot more accomplished.
To test this hypothesis, the company’s radical measures also include limiting meetings to 15 minutes or less and having employees check their email only twice a day.
While your boss might not be ready to let you call it quits at 1 pm, this is a good reminder that we should reconsider our belief that more work is always better. Handy for me I already speak German, so if you hear that I’ve moved overseas you’ll know that I am enjoying my afternoons off reading a good book.
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