Feel the Guilt But Take Time Off Anyway
Taking some time off the treadmill, whether it’s a week’s vacation, a day off, or an hour to yourself, makes a lot of people feel guilty. We live in a culture of rampant busy-ness, and so many people have significantly more on their plates than is actually do-able. Taking any time off can seem irresponsible, like you’re letting down the team. But feeling guilt doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong. In this case, you’re just out of your comfort zone.
The reality is you need the down time in order to be as productive as you can be. Just like in music, where the rests are as important as the notes, so it is in a professional’s life. Down time enhances your productivity. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true. You certainly know that the opposite is true: when you’re exhausted and burnt out, you’re not the best you can be, creatively or productivity-wise.
There is great restorative value in allowing yourself some free and clear time off. It will reduce your stress level and lighten your heart. Here are three recommendations for powerful actions you can take, starting immediately:
- Once a month, take a half day to yourself, with no “results” required: spend the time however you really feel like spending it. If this is truly impossible, start with 2 hours or even 1 hour — whatever you can pull off.
- One day a month, allow yourself to wake up on your own, without an alarm. If you have young children or pets who need early morning attention, find someone else to take your place that one morning.
- Every week, allow yourself at least one hour, somewhere during that week, when you are NOT RUSHING, when there is no time pressure on you.
When you practice these small “time-outs” from your usual pressured existence, you will probably feel guilty for not accomplishing something or for not leveraging your time to the max. That guilt will be a good sign — it will mean you are really taking some time out. And that’s a good thing for you.
Try at least one of these recommendations in the next 30 days. It’s a way to have a micro-vacation in the midst of a busy time. You will more than make up for it when you get back into busy mode: you will have replenished some of your personal reserves and will have more of you to bring to your work.