We’re in the homestretch, y’all.
Before you or I know it, the holidays will be upon us and we’ll be putting a bow on 2016 - it’s just kind of what happens once summer leaves us behind.
With this unavoidable passage of time comes the realization that over the course of the next three months, there are only a handful of days-off to look forward to. We no longer have the luxury of breaking up the work calendar with vacations here and days off there. Instead, we’re stringing weeks of break-free work together, counting down until the holiday season is upon us.
This, as you can probably imagine, is no fun. Though we may be able to take a long weekend here and there, the likelihood is that you won’t - 41% of Americans took ZERO vacation days last year – meaning that the next few months are going to bring with them work fatigue and burnout.
Fear not, dear friends. As always, we have the tips to help you get through this trying time.
VACATION DAYS: USE ‘EM
Remember how I (just) said 41 percent of Americans took zero days of vacation last year? Don’t be one of the those people.
Your company almost definitely offers vacation days, meaning, regardless if they want you to take them or not, you are allowed (and hereby encouraged by me—let me know if you need a note) to use them and recharge your batteries. Take those days off. They’re yours, and if you don’t use them, no one else will.
Take some time off for yourself. Get online, cheaply book a flight somewhere, and just go. Pack your bags, your loved ones, and a feeling of no regrets, and just get on out of here. They’re your days to do with them what you will. Do something.
(I know this is pretty self-explanatory, but apparently many Americans didn't get the memo.)
TAKE A BREAK, OR THREE
Forget breaks. GO ON VACATION! Ok, I get that not everyone is going to heed my advice and take full advantage of their vacation days. That’s fine. What you can do instead, though, is learn how to take better work breaks. The common misconception about taking breaks is that they eat into your productivity and that any amount of time spent away from your desk is time wasted. Wrong. In fact, many articles and even a study or two out there touting the fact that taking breaks can actually improve the overall quality of your work and keep you from burning out.
Think about it this way: let’s say you’ve never run before but you want to train for a marathon, you (probably) can’t just put your shoes on and hit the road for 26.2 miles. Your body simply won’t make it. You need to take baby steps, work your way up in mileage, and allow your body to rest and recover before being able to run for hours on end.
Your brain is the same way. You can’t be expected to work at a high level all day every day without proper training and recovery time. Your brain can’t handle it.
Now, to be clear, these articles and studies aren’t giving you free reign to slack off and take a break every 20 minutes because you’re bored. These breaks are only as effective as the work you’re doing in between them.
WHAT DO I MEAN?
By now you know that I am not the type to tell you what to do, but here’s what I will say: I don’t write this post as a means of permission to work less, or “game the system”. This is meant to help you with burnout and get you to the point where work doesn’t feel like its crushing you under its sometimes-unbearable weight. Especially through this part of the calendar.
How? Pick a task you need to complete, and complete it. Turn your phone on silent, don’t go on the internet (unless you need it for the task at hand), and even move to a more secluded area if you need to. Remove all distractions and hit the ground running. You’ll be shocked by how much you get done.
Give it a shot, won’t you? You owe it to yourself to try to make these next three months of vacation-less as palpable as possible.
Until next time – let’s take a walk.