What are you going to do to relax and rejuvenate this summer?
Taking time off is vital to help recharge your batteries.
Summer is just around the corner, and many people are looking forward to vacations and time off. On the other hand, maybe they aren’t — according to a survey by GfK for the U.S. Travel Association, more than 40 percent of employees who have paid time off don’t use all of it. This is a mistake. It’s important for people to take time off to rest, to spend time with their families and friends, and to revitalize themselves.
At Rep Cap, the content marketing agency I founded, scheduling time off for everyone is a core part of our values and business model. We offer unlimited vacation to our salaried team members, on top of a weeklong shutdown between Christmas and New Year’s. Our work requires a high level of creativity, as well as a cheerful, helpful attitude. Tired people aren’t usually very innovative or patient. I’d rather send someone home to rest for a few days than keep them on the clock doing subpar work. (That doesn’t mean everyone is free to take off all at once, of course. We work together to make the schedules sync up without affecting the level of service we provide our clients.)
When to take time off
It’s time to take a break when you start to feel the beginnings of burnout. Ideally, you can take time off even before you feel you need it, but your body and mind can give you warning signals. When you start to lose perspective on your work, or when tasks that should be easy take longer than usual because you’re tired, this is a recipe for burnout. You become less productive over time.
Also take some time if you feel discouraged about your job. You may think you need a new career or job because you’re miserable, when all you really need is a vacation. Time off can give you new perspective on your work and you may come back ready to dive in again — or it may clarify your thinking and send you on a new path.
How to get the most out of time off
Time off from work doesn’t have to include a vacation to some other destination, but it should mean a vacation from work. Unplug. All the way. Don’t check your email or voicemail, and turn off any notifications you might have on your smartphone.
Find a way to take longer breaks. Ideally, you would get at least two straight weeks off from work each year. You don’t even really start to destress from work until a few days have gone by. And traveling can be just as stressful as work, leaving you without the benefits of unstructured relaxation.
For me, the best breaks involve getting outdoors. I spend so much of my workday staring at screens that I find the perfect antidote to that is to get outside. I go tent camping with my family, and we explore national and state parks. I love places where my phone doesn’t work.