I have heard it before,
“I can’t take a day off from work…”
The excuses start flying…
- “I am so far behind on my work.”
- “Because they need me there.”
- “I am the only one who can do…”
- “I will never catch up if I miss a day.”
What other excuses have you heard? Are they your excuses?
Why Can’t You Take Off?
People convince themselves that they cannot take a day off from work. The numbers are staggering how many people do not take their allotted time off. Studies show that approximately half of U.S. workers do not use up all their vacation time each calendar year. (Yet, vacation days are usually a major issue when negotiating a job?)
Many people do not take care of themselves by taking their time off to recharge and relax.
Even worse is when people come to work when they shouldn’t. Maybe they are sick. Or their kids are sick. In their self-serving obsession to the job, they become a disruption to others. Ever had a sick co-worker refuse to go home and then get the whole office sick???
Here are just some of the impacts of not taking time off:
- Too Much Stress – Even the best cannot run at 100% pace, 100% of the time. Everyone needs time to relax.
- Missing Family Events – There is so much discussion about work-life balance, yet how many people “choose” to miss family events for work.
- Coming to Work Sick – This is one of my personal pet peeves. First of all, if you are not functional, you should not be working. Second, have some respect for your co-workers by not bringing your illness to the office.
- Working On Your Day Off – When some people finally do take off, what do they end up doing? Endlessly checking their email. I know some people who dial-in to conference calls when off.
- Dealing With Issues on Vacation – From there it progresses to actually having to work while on vacation. Working on or cleaning up issues that co-workers should have been able to address.
How to Take Off…
There are times to stay plugged into work. However, when you are really taking time off, take the time off.
You will be more productive both at work and in your personal life. You will return to your job recharged, instead of stressed from working while off.
Here are some of TMN’s rules for “Taking Time Off:”
1 – Unplug – Technology is great when it allows us to work when and where we want. But, you have to unplug if you want to truly take the day off. Stop checking email on your mobile. Better yet, turn it off.
2 - Set Expectations Before Leaving – Let others know who to reach in your absence. This one tip can prevent many unneeded interruptions while off. Also, many underestimate the power of the simple “Out of Office” message. Most people will respect reaching out to you, if they know you are gone.
3 – Don’t Hesitate to “Take One Day Off” – When people think of time off, they often relate it to a multi-day vacation or trip. Don’t get stuck in this paradigm. Sometimes it makes sense to take one day off for yourself. To relax. To recharge. Maybe just to work on that personal project or to spend it with your kids.
4 – Avoid Being “the Only One” – Ensure that others can carry out your duties in your absence. Don’t get trapped by being “the only person” who can do a particular task. This makes you the “Single Point of Failure” (SPOF) for a particular issue. This is dangerous for both the individual and the company. Avoiding this issue benefits both sides.
5 – Put Someone in Charge – Make sure you designate someone to address your work while you are gone. Even if you are not in charge of a team, empower someone to take action in your absence. It is important that they are not just a “point of contact” for you, but are authorized and ready to make decisions on your behalf.
6 – Schedule Catch-up Time – One of the reasons people dread coming back form vacation is because they walk into an onslaught of meetings, projects, and tasks. It can be stressful trying to get back in the groove. Plan for it. Schedule time on your day back to do nothing but catch up. Don’t let people fill your return day with meetings galore and project deadlines.
Get Out of the Office!
So, what’s stopping you from getting out of the office?
Make sure you take your time off. It is there for a reason. Have fun and recharge while unplugging from work for a short time.
If you find yourself unable to get away, it might be time to take a look at “why” you can’t…
What about you? Do you take all of your allowed vacation time? Can you take a day off from work?