A study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economic, and Ipsos showed that 768 million vacation days went unused in 2018. Even worse, 236 million of those days were forfeited completely.
Not only is this a loss of money in the form of benefits, but it’s also a loss towards your quality of life and mental well-being. Whether you work for someone else or for yourself, it’s essential that you use your PTO or take time away from work to avoid burnout and achieve an optimal work-life balance.
If you find yourself debating whether or not you should take the day off, don’t think any further. Take the day, week, or even month. I’ve gone through much deliberation myself, especially as a self-employed person.
After a year of constant grinding away at my desk, I finally came to the realization that I needed to make a change. I was sick of working all the time and feeling like I was missing out on what life had to offer.
So, I started taking time for myself in the form of nights, weekends, and even a vacation. Instead of worrying about my email inbox and to-do list, I made these enlightening realizations instead.
Reconnecting with family and friends is not optional
During my time off, I made a point of spending ample time with my husband, family, and friends. It made me realize just how much I had been pushing off in favor of working on my business.
Focusing on my career definitely has its perks, but nothing to the effect of the rewarding feeling of developing my relationships. Talking, laughing, and having fun are so important for a healthy frame of mind.
I left my time off understanding that the people in my life are what’s important in the grand scheme of things, and that I should make time with them a priority.
Disconnecting from technology can clear your eyes and head
When you’re stuck in the same repetitive routine day in and day out, it’s hard to get a clear picture of your life and career trajectory. Not to mention, technology can be so overwhelming between your calendar, social media, emails, productivity tools, video chat software, and more. It’s hard to have a clear head and eyes on what’s actually happening because of all the distractions. To add to this, we have all been more computer bound during the pandemic, with people working at home and completing school online.
Being away from technology and the daily grind during my time off reminded me that I am doing what I love every day and I am grateful for it. It brightened my perspective on what my overall goals are and what I can do to achieve them. Sometimes it just takes some thoughtful reflection to be recentered in your life and choices.
Self-care is essential to job performance and productivity
For those who have a perfectionist personality as I do, you’ll understand the anxiety that can come from work that piles on day and night. It feels like you’ll never get ahead of your to-do list, and like you can not focus on anything else. Your brain will be foggy, you’ll be less productive, and your body will feel worn down.
I experienced these feelings every day. But, time away from work allowed me to take a step back and breathe for a minute. I slept in, laughed with family and friends, enjoyed a few quiet moments alone meditating and reading a book, and took my dog for a walk.
Coming back to work I felt refreshed and rejuvenated, which allowed me to perform better for clients and myself. It was apparent that time away from work to take care of myself actually allowed me to get more work done than if I had not taken time off at all. Not to mention, I was able to think more sharply and creatively in my tasks.
Whether you have a formal vacation planned or not, you must take time off from work. Don’t be one of those people who let’s it be wasted. Take advantage of the work perks you are given as an employee and the freedom you have as a self-employed person. Just like me, you’ll be thankful that you did.