Taking time off


Each year in the United States, over one million vacation days go unused. They are essentially wasted.  We are just too busy and have too much to do to take them.  We actually feel guilty by using some of the days when we do manage to spend a little time away from the office.  We want to be there in the mist of battle with our colleges and we want them to know how dedicated we are. With that in mind we are also the leading country for depression, burnout, and stress related illnesses.

This past weekend I attended a weekend sporting event.  It was extremely hot and humid.  Between games some of the athletes would leave the outdoor temperatures and enter an air conditioned facility.  Others didn’t want to leave the so called battle ground and stayed outside in the heat amongst all the activity.  What I noticed later in the day and into the evening, the people who had went indoors when they weren’t on the field, looked rejuvenated almost as if their battery had been recharged.  The players who never received any relief looked and played like walking zombies.  They had no spark and were just going through the motions.  The zombie players did not do well later in the day and were overtaken by the fully charged players.

The same goes with business.  You have to take time to recharge your battery without feeling guilty.  Unfortunately the word “vacation” has a negative connotation to me.  Darren Hardy suggests “vacation time” be called “rejuvenation time”.  So I’ve done that.  I know that taking time to recharge in an integral part of being productive.  If a man is trying to build his biceps and does curls all day, every day, without taking time to rest his muscles will begin to deteriorate.  You should always rest and recover.

When you don’t take the needed time off your work gets fuzzy and dull.  You begin to run on half a battery.  You are more productive when you sprint and recover rather than a foot dragging limp.

I suggest taking a time to rejuvenate at least once every six weeks. Do whatever you need to do to recharge your battery.  If it’s to play in a sporting event, spend time with friends, go for a hike in the woods or lie in bed all day; do it.  Do it and be there.  Don’t do office things while you rejuvenate.  Those tasks can wait. Rejuvenate. Schedule this time and do it.  God even took time to rest, so I think you will be okay.

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20 thoughts on “Taking time off

  1. Taking a vacation or time to yourself should not be viewed as time wasted. These should be the times when we are truly in tune and aware of what’s around us!!!

  2. Great reminder. I always operate better when I am living a balanced life. When I commit too much time to work I become less valuable as an employee, less engaged as a husband and less peaceful on the inside. It may sound like an oxymoron but I believe that the more I rest the more effective I become.

  3. cb75948 says:

    Wonderful story and I was guilty of this over my work years. One facet that some face, especially in small businesses, is that there is no one available to keep the business functioning as there is no back up for all positions. I am a major shareholder in a small company that can’t afford for some key people to be away if we stay in business. This dilemma is real, not an imaginary thought. I would enjoy finding a solution that does not increase the expense in a company that is bare boned and stretched to stay afloat in our current regulatory jungle. We can’t raise prices and all fringes have been eliminated.

  4. jamestollefson says:

    You’re absolutely right. The same thing happens all the time in the Army’s various leadership schools. Hard chargers decide that they’re going to execute a 36 or 48 hour mission without planning any rest time for themselves or their troops, and they end up falling on their faces (sometimes literally, which is funny). Good leaders should absolutely treat their rejuvenation time, as you’ve taken to calling it, as seriously as they do their work because the same thing applies. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll fail. In combat operations that usually looks like people getting hurt not by the enemy, but by their own equipment because they make idiotic, avoidable mistakes. In an office environment, like the one most of us work in including myself nowadays, that usually looks like depression, divorce, and disease. We aren’t doing our followers any favors if we kill ourselves. They deserve our best, and that means leaders need to rest.

    • You know, back in the days of Andrew Carnegie in the steel plants, that is what happened to the workers. They were so overworked they became zombies and ended up hurting themselves on their own equipment.

      Great thoughts and thank. Your input is always welcome.

  5. I’m a big believer in mental health days. I try and take a random day off a couple of times a year, on top of my scheduled days off. My normal time off revolves around school holidays so that when my son is home for the day I can be with him, but mental health days are all for me. He goes to school and I do whatever I want! This time makes me a better boss, better employee and better mom. I believe in recharging my batteries! And, I do let my son have mental health days, too. He gets to skip school for it, and he has never taken advantage of it. He has always taken just one day a year and felt better for it!
    Great reminder that just because we aren’t doing anything doesn’t mean the time is wasted!

  6. Sandra says:

    I love my teaching job for that reason. We have a month off to recuperate and plan for spring term. We have three off in the summer to recuperate and work on our writing, research and scholarship over the summer

    Far less casualties that way. ;-).

  7. I personally have experienced the advantages of “Goal Free Zones”… it allows me to hit back with this massive energy and even more creativity!

  8. Janet says:

    Great to meet you! You’re so correct, for me there’s a huge difference between “vacation” and “rejuvenation” I love that! When I was in the corporate world I rarely took time off but perhaps I would have – if I’d thought of it like that. The power of words ; )
    Janet x

  9. AprilD says:

    Taking a couple hours every single week helps keep me on track. I set aside Friday mornings to rest and recreate myself through reading and writing. It’s what fills me back up to face the next work week!

  10. GFixation says:

    Also what is imperative, persons should not be “controlling” daily task/work, when other people are there to do it. They think by controlling it will lead to high praises, when truly they end up with an unorganized stressful mind/home. THEY don’t understand that what they harbour/cling/control stipulate that there is something lacking. Also because this is an ongoing process there is no time for ‘rest’

  11. lvantaggiato says:

    I am definitely motivated towards a career lifestyle rather than extra cash in my bank account…. great story!

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